Snoq. Pass 12-2000
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Climbing is dangerous! Every year many climbers are broken, maimed, and killed. Don't be so foolish as to trust your life to what you see here. I'm not a guide and neither is this web site. If you don't know what you are doing or where you are going, please take a course or hire a guide!

Snoqualmie Pass Ice

December 17, 2000

Whew, it was just ten days ago, but it already seems so distant. Jens and I wanted to climb some ice without making a weekend or a very long day of it. And since there has been quite a lot of clamor about ice at Snoqualmie Pass this year, we decided to go check it out. We left the car before dawn, heading up toward a potential flow we'd heard about. Unfortunately, we miscommunicated slightly and it took us 90 minutes to do what should have been a 25 minute approach. As it turned out, the last 100 vertical feet to the base of the climb was the crux: Almost too steep to skin through a partially covered alder thicket. Jens took off his skis to see it that would be easier. It wasn't, except to make my meager progress on skis seem more substantial.

Soon enough we were at the base of the first pitch: 25 vertical feet of steep snow slogging to a 30 foot vertical column. Jens made quick work of it, then disappeared out of sight. When the rope came tight, I started up the steep snow until I heard him call "Off belay!"

I started up the column, impressed with Jens' lead. The ice at the top was snow covered and softened to slush. Placements were poor and protection was nil. Above me another snow slope led to a shorter, though more dramatic pillar. When I reached it I saw that Jens was able to loop a runner through the chandeliered ice for pro. Nice. At the top, Jens had constructed a belay from a beefy alder tree and a couple screws. We swapped gear and I led out. Working through the alder and around the overhanging cliff it was growing from involved a bit of groveling and whimpering. Because I was just a few feet directly above Jens, I was especially nervous about falling. I made it around the corner without incident got one good screw in before the final short curtain. I set a quick tree belay and Jens came up. We made one rappel from the tree down to the column where Jens had threaded the ice. From there we inspected a wad of slings wrapped around a person-sized boulder. From twenty feet away it looked like a death rappel. Upon further inspection, I discovered that the smallish rock was frozen in place by six inches of water ice. And with that judgement, we simul-rappelled back to our gear. In fifteen minutes, we were back to the car, having enjoyed some very nice turns in atypical Cascade powder.

Unsatiated, we ventured up the Snow Lake trail looking to play around on the 'flows' blandly named Alpental 1-??. Come'on folks, we have what, like eight marginally worthwhile ice climbs on this side of the crest and the best names we come up with are Alpental 1, 2, and 3? How about "Ephermeral Flow" , "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow", and "Beggars Can't be Choosers"?

Anyway, the lines of people waiting to climb what had become a steep snow slope leading to 15 feet of 60 degree ice dissuaded us from the first couple flows. We ended up at a short, wide bouldering area. Jens had the most adventure- first getting 'lanched out of the descent couloir, then boldly hopping on a thin mixed line with a nightmarish snowy finish. I bouldered around and quit while I could still raise my arms.

To complete the day, we went over to Summit West (aka Snoqualmie Summit) and skied Dodge Ridge and Thunderbird for a couple hours.

Sorry no pictures, I forgot my camera.


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