I'm having a hard time finding my words but I miss regular blogging so I guess I better suck it up and find a way to write some stuff anyway. At least I have some pictures. This is from a few weeks ago when Chad, my avalanche buddy, and I hiked our butts up to the Chasm Lake cirque to climb a couloir called Martha. I climbed it last year when I was really quite a new climber and it was great to come back a year later and see the difference.
The approach is maybe 5 miles but well worth it. After a minor false start following snowshoer tracks we popped out above the trees.Sun is coming up earlier and earlier these days. That means the alarm goes off darn early for alpine starts.
To the right of my head you can see the couloir Chad and I were avalanched down. It's the 2nd wide snow band from the bottom right of the picture. If you zoom in you can see where it begins to narrow significantly. We went from ~50 feet below the narrow part all the way down the wide part more or less. Note to everyone, don't do that.
The Diamond looks mighty impressive from down here.
We were at the well frozen lake in no time and hiked across much to Marni's excitement on the SPOT. "You looked like you were in the middle of the lake so I thought the SPOT was wrong." Time to gear up. I donned my harness and the rack and began to drag the rope up the hill.
I headed for the shady gully climbing bomber snow and a nice easy ice/mixed band. Somewhere above I found my first piece of gear while Chad was already simul-climbing.
The wide part of the couloir was easy but still filled with some deep powder snow. I put in the stairs and was happy to find occasional rock pro in the couloir walls as the angled kicked towards 50 degrees, just in case.
Still happy simul-climbing, Chad was somewhere below at the end of the rope. I hugged the left edge of the couloir until it finally narrowed back up and the loose snow depth decreased.
After running the rope up to just below the crux sections I was out of gear due to our small rack. I brought Chad up, collected the gear from him and headed up again.
I tried an interesting left line but it turned out more difficult than I thought so I down climbed and headed right instead.
Chad following the route.
Nice and narrow now.
The crux ice section was thin but I got a stubby screw in and fired it easily. Quite a big difference from a year ago when I was nervous just following Juan's lead with much fatter ice!
I built a quick belay so that Chad would have one climbing the cruxes and brought him up. The view certainly was nice and we were topped out before the sun hit the main couloir which was perfect.
Chad finishing up some great ice, snow and mixed climbing.
Heh, cold hands aka the hot aches or screaming barfies. Don't overgrip your tools kids.
The route beyond this point is easy so I sent Chad up to the safety of the rocks above while I broke down the belay. The snow was bomber up here too, just starting to warm in the sun.
Up in those rocks we stripped our crampons and harnesses and put the rope and rack away. A short 3rd class scramble brought us to the summit of Mt. Lady Washington. After a quick lunch we hiked and glissaded back to the car. Round trip was ~7:45 which was sure better than the 7 hour descent alone time it took us to get down with our matching broken ankles!
There are about a half a dozen routes pictured in the photo below that I hope to do this year alone including my first trip up the huge face (The Diamond) in the left center of the photo. The route Marni and I climbed last July is the right edge of the Diamond down to the lower right snowfields. Hard to believe why Longs Peak is so popular :)