Alpental Valley, Jan 19
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Alpental Valley Ice and Mixed

January 19, 2003

I've been feeling crappy all week. Enough so that I bailed on our plans to play in the Tatoosh on Saturday. But after lounging around all day and eating almost an entire quart of FarFar's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream, I needed to get out on Sunday.

Having heard rumor of some ice and a couple mixed routes in the Alpental valley, Dave and I left my house at the crack of 8:00 AM on Sunday.

The air is cold when we get out of the car in the upper Alpental lot. The collection of cars indicates that this will not be a day of solitude in the wilderness. Soon enough we're skiing up the rock-hard trail toward Source Lake.

On the way we spot climbers on a little flow about twenty minutes from the parking lot. They've just finished leading.

Seems like most of the short ice routes in the Alpental Valley end with a thrutch through trees (climber's head and shoulder circled).

This is the first time I can remember going up the trail in clear daylight conditions. I snap a few pictures for future reference.

After some huffing and puffing in an interesting hoar-frost, crust, sugar snow combination, Dave and I reach the little crag with the mixed routes. Two M7s and an M9. In all three cases, "mixed" is relative: None of them have more than a few feet of ice.

Nonetheless, we are emboldened by fat, closely spaced bolts and Dave is soon laying siege to the right-most M7. After clipping the first four bolts he lowers off and it is my turn to lead in the best* possible style (*this is all relative, after single-handedly consuming two tins of Costco cinnamon rolls over the holidays). I sketch up to the last bolt that Dave clipped and then suggest that a bivy may be necessary, and that Dave should send up the ledge, the stove, and some cinnamon rolls.

Me waiting for the cinnamon rolls and bivy gear. Sadly, they never arrived. Photo by Dave.

Sadly, Dave demurs, and I am forced to actually lead the rest of the climb, which I do with a generous amount of hangdogging, swearing, and general lack of style. The highlight is the top-out, which is a typical 70 degree unconsolidated snow ten feet above the last bolt affair. I'm told there are nice chains at the top,  but they are nowhere in sight- buried in snow and ice. I slog up the slope to a tree where I make an anchor. Dave and I each take another lap, dialing in the moves and placements, then we pull the rope and watch some hard men (one of them is the dude who we saw soloing Drury the week before- small world) siege the M9, in similar, though slightly better style.

Climbing, in hope that cinnamon rolls are at the top. Photo by Dave.

Around the corner Dave spots a nice, though short, pitch of ice, which he leads and we each take two laps on.

Dave looking for a stubbie. The route starts about ten feet below the belay.

Dave told me there were definitely cinnamon rolls at the top, so up I went. He's a liar. Photo by Dave.

Dave ends the day by soloing a WI3 route closer to the valley floor while I watch- the flu starting to get the best of me.

The ski out is entertaining, at least to anyone watching us. Spectacular endos and cartwheels accentuate the short descent to the lake, after which we sail down the trail, packed in like a luge run, back to the car.

Alpenglow on Snoqualmie Mountain

A fun day of sport-like mixed climbing very close to home. The Alpental valley has a lot of untapped potential for hard mixed lines, and there is more seldom climbed thin ice that I realized.

Dave's TR is here.


This page was last edited on Wednesday, February 23, 2005
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