March 30th, 2011
Chris joined us for a hat trick weekend this last weekend of mountaineering, rock climbing, and ice climbing.
The weekend started out with a attempt at Snowdon peak where Ben and Chris made it to the Naked Lady coular before having to turn back.
So, with some extra daylight to kill, we took Chris to the beautiful East Animas cliffs for some afternoon rock climbing which was a warm welcome to the chillier morning in the snow… this is what makes this area so great in the spring! Done with winter? Head towards town for some spring warmth and sun.
After Chris getting in some more leads and harder top-ropes, it was off to town for some well earned dinner.
Finally after a great dinner in town and a good nights sleep, we headed up to winter and Cascade Canyon for some ice climbing on the surprisingly fat ice climbs and some great mixed practice as well.
All together, another great “hat trick” weekend of varied endeavors and jam packed fun… I think this spring “Hat trick” thing could catch on.
March 13th, 2011
This last week, Jeff, Matt, Mike, Jamie and Jason joined Matt and I for what turned out to be a great time in the San Juans. The crew had a good range of experience. Some people had never climbed a mountain before and others had already done a couple of the ‘Seven Summits’. Everyone came away from the weekend having learned a lot and having experienced the amazing summit of Engineer Peak.
On Day one we drove North of Durango to Cascade Canyon for a day of ice climbing. Everyone seemed to pick the art of climbing ice up very quickly and were cruising up the walls in no time. Jason and Matt wanted to do some rappelling so we arranged that near the end of the day, then packed up and headed back to Durango to prepare for the next day.
- Ice Climbing at Cascade Canyon
- Jason and Matt discussing a V-thread.
Day two we drove up to Coalbank Pass and hiked in to our camp at around 11′500′. When we arrived we set up our tents and then got to work digging out the best cook tent I have ever seen. At 6′ deep with an archway to the kitchen plus a separate seating area, it will be hard to beat.
- Matt in cook area.
- Archway and pathway from kitchen to seating area.
Day three dawned clear which was good since we had a ton to go over. We started out with some Avalanche Awareness and beacon searches. Then transferred into self arresting, snow anchors, crevasse rescue, and ascending a fixed line. We finished off the day with, quesadillas and cheddar and broccoli soup for appetizer then burritos for dinner and cheesecake for dessert!
- Jason ascending a fixed rope.
Day four was summit day. A team on day three was nice enough to break trail part way up Engineer, but we had to finish it off on our own. We summited in great time in perfect conditions. After soaking up the views from the summit we returned to camp, packed up and headed for Durango.
- Everyone on the summit!
Everyone in the group did a great job and I hope to climb with each of you again in the future!
March 13th, 2011
Despite getting food poisoning from suspect airport food, Chris trooped through the weekend in style. Back in Ouray, Chris was able to overcome and conquer getting multiple pitches in between bouts of sickness. Way to hang in there Chris!
The next day with Chris feeling much better, he was ready to up the ante with his climbing. So with all the experience that he had gained with us he was ready to cross a major milestone in his climbing… His First Lead!!!
With a couple of Mock-leads the day before and a review on techniques, we found a nice WI3 that was well within his abilities, talked strategy, and off he went cruising his way to the top!
Despite some bumps, we had a great weekend and crossed a milestone. Great job Chris! We’ll see ya soon for Snowdon and more climbing!
March 8th, 2011
Allan joined me this past weekend to get some vertical ice climbing under his belt. Allan has climbed all over North and South America already, and will join us on our Cordillera Blanca trip in the heart of Peru. Artesonraju is a 6000 meter peak comprised of very continuous 50 to 65 degree snow and ice climbing.
check out this program at http://www.swaguides.com/trips_courses/expeditions/peru/artesonraju.shtml
On Saturday Allan and I climbed in the schoolroom. He picked up a perfect swing and great footwork immediately. We made a couple v-threads and placed multiple ice screws. Allan was absolutely shocked as to how strong both v-threads and screws can be. By the end of the day, Allan had climbed around 800 feet of ice. Nice work.
The next day we started out of ‘The Schoolroom Pillar.’ This is the steepest piece of ice in the Schoolroom. No problem.
Allan cruising up The Schoolroom Pillar.
We then moved North into the Alcove Area and climbed another 5 pitches here ranging over 120 feet long.
One of the LONG routes in the Alcove. 140 feet.
Our afternoon was spent working on skills ranging from knots and hitches to glacier travel to companion crevasse rescue. Once we had out climbed our area and were happy with progress, Allan climbed one last route from the canyon floor to the rim. Around 150 feet. 1300 feet total over both days.
Long way to the top.
At the end of the day, we swung by The Black Canyon of the Gunnison to see the “big ditch” in the winter time. Allan had never been there before and it was a great added bonus to his trip to Southwestern Colorado. Hopefully he will join us for some world class rock climbing there this summer! All in all, the weekend perfected Allan’s ice climbing ability and I know he will be successful in Peru this summer.
Looking across from the south rim of The Black Canyon