Today I went up to Lincoln Falls near Hoosier pass. It’s at the base of a route called “The Amphitheater” on Mount Lincoln, 14,295′ (4,357 m), 8th highest in Colorado and 11th highest in the Continental USA. We had a bit of snow yesterday so the going up Hoosier Pass on Hwy 9 was slow and slippery, but Hwy 4 just south of the pass was snow packed and good. You probably don’t even need 4×4, right now anyway.
While I was getting my bags transferred around (I went rock climbing a few times in the previous weeks) a couple of guys pulled in and we chatted for a few minutes while we all got ready.
I hiked up the road to the inlet to Montgomery Reservoir and crossed the bridge and headed into the trees. The trail was slick with powder snow over ice on ground that was just barely frozen. Just as the trail forked into the boulders I ran into another soloist and we discussed our gear and previous incidents. Tons of fun.
The climbers from the parking lot caught up to me, which was great because I really had no clue how to get up there. The other soloist was lost on the way down and said not to follow his tracks.
I went pretty slow to keep my heart rate and sweat levels low. Finally I got the the base of the route near Scottish Gully where the other guys were setting up. We talked about what our plans were. Since this was my first solo in a while and my first outing of the year I planned on getting onto a nice slabby WI2 and just having some fun and getting back into the groove. I walked around and found one that looked good just around the corner from the sled. I think in a “normal” year or later on anyway, it’s a steep snow ramp up to the pillars and mixed routes. Now though it was a great fun looking roller coaster slab with a few feet of low 3, but mostly 2. Good enough.
I went over to the right and up a gully of boulders with poor footing and managed to ding my shin. Ouch! After the guys disappeared up to the chains on Scottish Gully I broke out my gear and set a bottom anchor in good solid plastic ice. The rope was a mess since my kids had put it away, but a few minutes later I was tied in as was the anchor.
You can’t see it in the pic but that 8 is backed up with a fisherman’s knot. So is the one on my harness in the next pic. I don’t usually tie in when soloing, lead or toprope. Wanted to mess with it some today. It bit me in the butt, which I should have known it would do. I clipped in with a GriGri and tested it. It held. I usually test the GriGri – because it’s so hard to remember which end is which when you’re lead soloing.
Gotta love that rat’s nest of rope there. I stepped over it. I went up about 15′ and put in another stubby. Not planning anything really serious, I brought two stubbies and two 16mm screws. I brought four wiregate draws. I had to strip my rappel rig of a locker for the bottom anchor. I have an extended rappel pre-rigged on my harness most of the time.
I went about 20′ and with no obvious bulges that would take a longer screw, I went on. About 5′ more and Karma got me. The loop of rope I was trailing had become wrapped around the anchor below me. I didn’t see anything thick enough to put in a 16mm screw so I got stable and untied. Then I carefully pulled the rope up and stacked it below my feet, and kept going about 15′ toward a good stout 8″ tree, but I didn’t have a sling with me. I guess I was going a bit more minimalist than I should have. After a few minutes of looking for a good rock to loop around nothing stood out so I decided to downclimb.
I angled back over to the plastic sheet of ice and worked my way down. It was pretty interesting because I’d never downclimbed that far on the sharp end before. Also, it wasn’t all climbed out, so I had to actually swing, kick, and stick. I kept pulling in rope through the GriGri as I descended, leaving it lying along the route as I went. I got to the anchor and cleaned it and finally was at the base. I took that anchor apart and pulled the rope down and stacked it at my feet.
I got a little pumpy downclimbing and I needed to get the kids from school so I decided to call it a day. It was fun getting in my first route of the year. It was fun essentially free soloing a slabby WI2. It was awesome downclimbing it from about 35′ above my pro. The ice was about 60-70 degrees and that boulder field below it was a good 45 degrees. It was great imagining that impact. Over and over. A lot.
Going down the slick boulders was very slow going, and I was glad for all the pointy bits sticking out to hang onto. Later in the year when it’s in waist deep packed snow it’s a lot better going.
- Bring along more gear and pro. Slings, lockers, etc.
- GriGri sucks using it this way. Doable, but sucks.
- Bring my Edilrid Eddy next time to see if that works better.
- Bring more stubbies in early season.
Don’t do any of this. Ever. Nope. Never.