While we were in New Zealand, I remember sitting on the beach, next to the lake and soaking up the sun and enjoying the southern hemisphere summer. Being a person who loves to do things in the winter, I found myself stalking the weather conditions back home and even though the sunshine and lake were beyond beautiful, I could not help myself when I counted down the days till we were able to go climb some ice.
|Yellow Pine, Idaho PC-JDSTYLOS|
When we got home, Joe, my family and I drove north to McCall Idaho. We took advantage of being a bit farther north and met up with our ice climbing friend George. All three of us drove the long drive even further north to Yellow Pine in search of any possible ice. We found a small 25ft curtain right off the side of the road, you could literally belay from the car if you wanted to. Even though this flow was small and not exactly super exciting, all three of us took the opportunity to practice technique, and to hop on a mixed climb just to the left of the ice.
Once back in Boise the temperatures soared. Birds chirped, the grass seemed to be turning green, even flowers were trying to pop up out of the ground. Not ideal temperatures for ice. So, after two weeks of spending time with my family in Idaho, Joe and I packed up the mobile humble abode and officially headed east.
Last year, on our way back west we drove through Bozeman and finished the 2017 ice climbing season. This season we hit Bozeman first on our way to the east coast. Both Joe and I read about unreal conditions in Hyalite. Some routes that had not been climbed in decades were being climbed, and all the ice was in. Having a very good friend in Bozeman it makes staying and climbing here so enjoyable. We drove into town and settled in, and the following day we made our way into the canyon and met up with George and his friend John.
|George Leading Jeff's Right PC-JDSTYLOS|
I couldn't help but smile the entire way up to the first large ice climb of 2018. Conditions were perfect, and with no else on our side of the canyon we had first pick of all the climbs. We settled on a nice WI3 called Jeffs Right to start on. This route was fairly deceiving, the hardest part wasn't necessarily the steepness, but the length required far more endurance than anyone expected. After George lead that and set up a top rope, he brought up John and he set up a rope on a flow just right of the first climb. All four us us took laps on Jeff’s Right and on Magically Delicious (a short WI4 with a cool mixed climb to the left of the ice).By the time we headed out for the day all of us were pretty spent.
|Magically Delicious PC-JDSTYLOS|
The following day, both Joe and I were feeling quite ambitious and drove up to Hyalite with quite the pep in our step. Since both of us are still perfecting technique and are just getting ready to start leading we headed towards a climb we knew we could top rope on our own. We arrived to Genesis I and no one was there. So of course, we picked what we thought would be the most fun line. As Joe went and set up a rope, more and more people started to shuffle in. By the time we finally started climbing, there was no space on the ice for anyone to set up another rope. As I put my tools into the ice my hands and arms burned in exhaustion. My enthusiasm covered up the fact the my whole body was feeling quite fatigued. So after a couple routes on the 80ft WI4+, we chose to call it a day and head back to the house.
When we were not climbing, we took the chance to spend an evening at the Bozeman Hot Springs with friends before heading to the local burger bar for dinner. I also got the chance to see and ride a horse I used to take care of while working at Aspen.
After receiving a message on FB from an ice climbing friend that had seen that we were in Bozeman, we decided to meet up with him and go climbing after a rest day. I met Matt Ward the first day I went ice climbing, and climbed with him one more time that season and haven't seen him since. I've stayed in touch the last couple of years, and watched his climbing excel. So when the chance came up for him to not only be our rope gun, guide, and teacher for a day, we jumped for the opportunity.
|Matt Leading Scepter PC-JDSTYLOS|
We started our day out with a hike up to Sceptor, a 100ft WI5 and one of the most classic climbs in all of Hyalite. With snow dumping out of the sky, when we walked up to the climb and my heart might have skipped a beat. This massive, vertical, waterfall of ice was framed by some of the most beautiful wilderness one could ever imagine. Matt geared up and lead the whole thing in style. Not only did he make it look easy but he made it look wicked fun. So when it was my turn to climb I tied my knot and was quickly ready to get climbing. The first part of the climb was hard ice, almost mushroomed in appearance. It quickly got straight vertical, and that's when you could feel all that technique practice come into play. By the time I got back down to the ground I was beaming. Joe climbed it next with just as much enthusiasm and with solid technique. We both were enthralled with what we were going to climb next.
We hiked and wallowed through deep snow to get to our next climb. A large cave was just under the ice and I stood in there and belayed Matt while we he climbed to the top. I couldn't see Matt but I could see all of the spindrift coming from the slopes above. Even though this climb was only rated a WI4, it was tricky! The ice narrowed near the top and your body wanted to barn door off from one side to the next.
|Matt Leading The Matrix PC-JDSTYLOS|
With time ticking away we didn't have much daylight left for too much more so we ventured down and got the chance to climb a difficult M5. Neither Joe or I had done any sort of mixed climbing until we were in Yellow Pine with George. So after Matt lead the route (White Zombie), and set up a top rope he coached us through some techniques and other ways to get through the hard sections. Both Joe and I rock climb and ice climb but who knew combining the two would be so exciting! I’ve always hesitated to put my tools on rock. With the idea of scraping very sharp tools and ultimately the rock making them very dull has never been appealing. But after these last two experiences mixed climbing, I wouldn't be surprised if we find ourselves doing it more and more.
|White Zombie PC-JDSTYLOS|
We said our goodbye to Matt and couldn't be more thankful for his time, and patience with us. Having him climb with us made for a fun experience and we got to hop on routes we would of otherwise never gotten the chance to climb.
A couple of days passed and we went for one last adventure to Hyalite and hiked up to Palisade falls. After not feeling to confident about the quality of the ice near the top of the climb we decided to not climb and instead we went for a hike before headed back to the car.
|Start of The Matrix PC-JDSTYLOS|
We’ve started packing up all of our gear, loading it into the car and with that we are getting ready to say goodbye to Hyalite Canyon and Bozeman! It’s always amazing how fast time can fly. We are heading east tomorrow towards Munising, Michigan for the Ice Fest for the second year in a row.
Huge thanks to the Maxwell crew for letting us crash at their home, and George, Matt and John for showing us a killer time in Hyalite Canyon. What a world class place to get the chance to climb!
|Palisade Falls PC-JDSTYLOS|