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;
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!
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!
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.
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!