2018-2019 Ice season retrospective

My 2018-2019 ice climbing season was mediocre in terms of volume (I logged 17 days this year) but extremely successful in terms of improving my technical skills, climbing amazing routes, and having fun with good friends.  Here’s some highlights;

Top rope laps to start the season in November!
Crossing a frozen lake high in the Selkirks to get back to the car after a great day of early season ice.

I made three trips to Hyalite this year with my great friends, Ben and Zach.  Climbing with these guys is always marked by a lot of laughter, extremely weird music, and some good routes.  One highlight from my Hyalite outings was Responsible Family Men (WI5-), an adventurous route which Zach led.  The approach alone is a technical alpine climb, involving a solid WI3+ pitch of ice, unprotected (but easy) mixed climbing, and a very involved traverse of a snowy ledge to reach the base of the route.  This route actually took us two attempts, because we were way too slow and struggled to find the best way to approach the route on our first try.  Armed with knowledge from that attempt, we returned and SENT!


Ben utilizing his secret and infamous four-tool technique on Feeding the Cat (WI3).
Starting my lead of Feeding the Cat (WI3).
Zach getting burly on The Scepter in WI4+ conditions.
Ben on the spiritual crux of the approach to Responsible Family Men.
Zach traversing to the main flow of Responsible Family Men while I belay.  This route is most often climbed by traversing in from the side, with about 100 feet of exposure below. My anchor was some old-looking tat wrapped around a block combined with a good V-thread. Photo: Ben
Zach leading Responsible Family Men. Photo: Ben

Another big highlight from Hyalite this year was finally climbing the ultra-classic Cleopatra’s Needle (WI5) with Ben.  I’ve been coming to Hyalite for years, but had never climbed this very famous route.  Thankfully, Ben led the crux!

Me leading the first pitch of Cleo’s Needle.  As you can tell by the number of screws I placed, I was pushing myself a bit on this lead.  It was steeper than it looked! Photo: Ben Ward
Ben leading the crux pitch of Cleo’s Needle.

Ice conditions at Banks Lake were, by all accounts, incredible this year.  Ben Boldt and I made a daytrip to Banks to capitalize on these once-in-a-decade conditions, climbing a handful of routes.  The best climb of the day was Absent Minded Professor, a 3-4 pitch drainage-style climb.  Every pitch was challenging and fun! This route earns a rating of WI3-4 in the Washington Ice guidebook, but the first pitch was steep enough that I felt it earned a solid WI5 rating.  The other pitches were WI3+ to WI4.  All other parties on the route that day opted to bypass the first, hardest pitch, but Ben cruised the lead.

Ben leading one of the middle pitches of Absent Minded Professor.
Ben hiking the last pitch of Absent Minded Professor.

All in all, it was a pretty good season spent with solid partners.  Thanks to all who shared a rope and gas costs with me!

Pulling over a bulge on Copper Falls (WI3). Photo: Megan Holt

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