…What a fun, interesting and dangerous climb.
Doug Folland, myself along with Dee Winegar on his 62nd birthday and www.gearexpress.com
‘s owner Blake Taylor climbed the GWI in the wee hours of Friday January 9th.
Doug and I looking to see if we could set a new personal best with a better time than last years 1:42. We have been training every morning for two weeks and decided to make one technical change in our climb. We usually solo climb to the base of the Bulge and then rope up for the last two pitches. This climb the plan was to simply clip the last anchor with a draw and continue simo climbing to the end of the route.
was cold, snowing hard with steady wind and some hard wind gusts.
up through the top of the Ramp had lots of deep snow and in places because of the up hill angle the snow was to my mid-thigh not to mention punching through several holes that went into the water. The ramp looked like a waterfall with a steady flow of ice and snow on top of the ice. Doug and I alternated breaking trail. We got to the Bulge in 30 minute, ten minute slower that when we climbed the route in 2:10 earlier this year.
To the top
, because of the less than good ice conditions on the lower half of the route I approached the Bulge with the idea that if the ice was compromised we would turn back. The wind and snow made it difficult to see the route from the anchors. When I arrived at the ice it seemed good and I placed a screw at the bottom of the Bulge, ascended the Bulge and placed another screw near the top and a third screw at the little head wall 30 feet before the left side Curtain Anchors. At this point Doug is preparing and setting off as a simo climber. When I got to the left side Curtain anchor I clipped a quick draw and the rope to the anchor and moved toward the Curtain pitch. The snow was very deep and I broke through into water twice. Reaching the ice I put a screw in and start up just right of the cauliflower ice. The ice was thin as I made my way to the left of the real Curtain. I placed the last screw of this climb into the side of the Curtain and continued up. Near the finish I had my right ax in the frozen moss, my left ax in ice and when I kicked with my left foot a big chunk of ice broke free just below my left ax. I yelled ice and quickly realized that the ice had fallen behind the dome of ice into the falls. There was another big chunk of ice dangling attached to a tree root. I yelled ice then pulled it free and guided it behind the dome and into the water fall. I knew I was on very sketchy ice so I sank my left ice ax higher and into the frozen moss, followed by sinking my right ax higher and also into the moss. I looked at my feet for a perch for my right crampon. Pulling with both arms I get my right foot high, as my left foot touch the ice to the left another large section of ice fell. I yelled Ice and this time I could hear the ice rumbling down the canyon. Doug my simo-climbing partner was hit in the shoulder but maintained is position on the ice, the ice continued down over the Bulge and airborne over Blake’s head. We all communicated and luckily no one was hurt. I climbed to the belay tree and finished belaying Doug to the top.
, as I belayed Doug final climbing effort using a Reverso I was able to prepare for the descent. I like everything in my pack except one ax. When Doug arrived I added the screws and draws to my pack and Doug and I where off headed towards the truck. Wading through the deep snow we blazed a trail around Rosqvist Ridge and to the start of the descent gully. I sat down at the first opportunity to glissade. Instead of going all the way to the gully I headed just right of the big pine as a short cut. It’s steeper and faster and you guessed it I set off a loose snow slide and I thought good, this will help get down the mountain faster. The slide quickly turned into a small avalanche and I was going fast than I wanted to with lots a power building up behind me. I stuck my foot out to the right to catch a tree a slow myself then caught the next tree with my arms. Most of the slide passed me and I let going continuing to ride the moving snow. When I stopped I jumped up and started down the mountain as fast as I could go. Sometimes running and sometimes glissading. Where you turn right to cross the streambed I turned and couldn’t see Doug. I waited there until he was back in sight, communicated that he was ok and across and down I went. I pushed into the deep snow after the trees then sat and glissaded the first of the remaining two steep areas. That slide went well and I started out into the last possible slide zone and sure enough under my feet I felt the top layer of wind blow slow crack. I looked down and saw the snow moving leaving the scar of a 6 to 8 inch slab slide. I was down and the slide only last for twenty or so feet to the trees. I looked up and the scar was about twenty feet wide. Doug soon followed and down the trail we headed crossing the bridge to the truck. Doug looks at his watch; try’s to do the math as we both heave for air. The time was 1 hour 45 minutes, just three minutes longer than our best time last year.
, nothing like great friends, happy 62nd birthday to my cousin Dee Winegar, thanks to Blake Taylor and I’m so glad he didn’t get hurt from the large chunks of ice. When Blake got to the truck he said he had been hit three separate times and a big thanks to my great climbing partner Doug Folland. I believe we will get real close to the one hour mark with better conditions. The only technical change will be trying next time is a shorter rope for the simo climbing.