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jumar
01-27-2008, 08:52 AM
Iceaxe, Redbonez, Millsclimber and I (along with a friend of millsclimber) went out and did the first pitch of Stairway on Saturday. The ice was very nice! Redbonez took a bunch of pics, hopefully he'll post some of them here?

accadacca
01-27-2008, 07:10 PM
Uh yeah, bring on those pix. :popcorn:

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Iceaxe
01-28-2008, 09:32 AM
Here are a few pictures from the trip.

stefan
01-28-2008, 10:24 AM
sweet photos :2thumbs:

can we add some close-ups to the pic-bar?

climbinghalfdome
01-28-2008, 10:55 AM
Looks like fun was had by all.
I noticed that there were quite a few folks there. More than your group?
I'm glad to see you got out.
Down here in Kanab things are looking real good.
Kevin

Iceaxe
01-28-2008, 12:15 PM
Yeah.... lots of folks but never got crowded, falling ice was not a big problem while we were there. When we showed up at about 7am there was our group and two other small groups. Everyone was really good about sharing and swapping different routes.

After a few hours Exum Utah showed up with a really large group teaching an ice Climbing class, which is why it looks like a lot of folks. But Exum hiked to one end and used a spot of ice that was out of the way and not being used be anyone. The large Exum group never presented a crowding problem while we were there, but it did add a large number of people milling around.

This was the first time I had ever climbed in Provo Canyon so I don't know what it's usually like. Normally when we go somewhere we are the only ones on the ice, but then again, we seldom have a massive ice wall like Stairway to Heaven.

Only danger the crowd caused was at the end as we were packing to leave. A group decided to climb the second and third pitch and started raining massive amounts of ice down on everyone below. Many of the blocks were bowling ball size and could be deadly. I'm not a big time ice climber so I'm not real up on the finer points of ice edict.... but this seemed really uncool to me. The group doing the second pitch did create a safety hazard and they showed up late after everyone was already established and climbing.

Brian in SLC
01-28-2008, 12:59 PM
Only danger the crowd caused was at the end as we were packing to leave. A group decided to climb the second and third pitch and started raining massive amounts of ice down on everyone below. Many of the blocks were bowling ball size and could be deadly. I'm not a big time ice climber so I'm not real up on the finer points of ice edict.... but this seemed really uncool to me. The group doing the second pitch did create a safety hazard and they showed up late after everyone was already established and climbing.

Hmmm....

Stairway to Heaven is a 5 to 8 pitch route. You can't really expect to show up at 7a.m., string a TR up on the first pitch, then have everyone else not climb "the route". That would be the "uncool" expectation.

http://www.mountainproject.com/v/utah/wasatch_range/provo_canyon/105879622

Its one of the finer climbs in Utah (longest best route, no doubt) and one of the longer routes in the U.S. as a pure ice climb. Its a huge plum, especially to climb through the fifth pitch, which tends to be the p1-5 crux.

I mean, if you stand below someone climbing ice above you...then you need to move (DUH!). If your intent was to never climb the route, but, TR the first pitch, then your TR should be out of the way of folks who show up to climb the route above you.

On multi pitch ice, get out of the way of folks climbing above. They have precidence out of a default position. And, I really think folks can't expect to TR the first pitch of a multi pitch route and not have folks pass by and climb the higher pitches.

I've run into this ice crowding issue thing a time or two. Had a guy, last year, climb below my partner on Scruffy Band, and, when we rappelled off, he gave my partner a ration for kicking ice down on him. I'm like, "well duh, dude, you were below someone climbing ice above you, what did you expect?"

Also, my bet is that most folks who climb the upper pitches of stairway (or at least a significant number of them) bypass that first pitch, since you just walk up to the right and get on the second pitch from there. So if you stop and TR that first pitch, to the right, you'll always be in the firing line of folks coming up later in the day.

With ice, its best to be well out of the way, off to the side, if you have no intent of climbing a multi pitch route. The Stairway apron is huge (thankfully) and seems to accomodate a number of parties. But, I think its unreasonable to expect that a climb that continues, obviously, way above that wide apron pitch, won't have any traffic above 'cause they're folks TRin' down low on it.

Folks that camp out at the base of the first pitch, below and in line of the upper pitches, are the safety hazard. Remember, those upper pillars eject some days without warning, climbers or not. Best to not dawdle at the base of any longer ice climb. Stand clear and keep your eyes peeled.

Given the amount of ice climbing traffic these days, I'm surprised more folks aren't nailed with stuff from above. Friend of mine got nailed by a dropped pack on the Great White Icicle, right in the chest, whilst leading.

How's that go, Shane? When you're not the lead dog, the view never changes? With ice climbing, its best to be the lead dog.

-Brian in SLC

Iceaxe
01-28-2008, 01:52 PM
Thanks Brian, I was just curious if what I witnessed was standard practice and what the "rules" were. As I said, I've never climbed at a crowded spot like that before.... or at a spot with so much great ice above the first pitch.

Next time I'll know it's best to be the lead dog. :2thumbs:

.

Brian in SLC
01-28-2008, 02:23 PM
Thanks Brian, I was just curious if what I witnessed was standard practice and what the "rules" were. As I said, I've never climbed at a crowded spot like that before.... or at a spot with so much great ice above the first pitch.

Rules are pretty gray at best.

It can be kinda itchy. Which is why some of us avoid crowded ice. I mean, I'd feel awful if I kicked ice down on someone and they got hurt. Especially someone I'd passed or snaked around to get above to continue a pitch. Its pretty common. Geez, drive by the GWI any day (or night!) of the week these daze. We came off it at 8:30pm a few weeks back, and, there was still three or four parties on it...

A friend of mine who's solo'd laps on the GWI, actually changes his jacket so's as to not bum out the folks he passes twice...

Crazy.

Couple of us were climbing upper Bridleveil a few years ago, as a party of three. We topped out, and, noted a real fast party of two catching up. No biggie. We waited for them to top out before we rappelled, but, they didn't wait for us to finish rappelling. One of the guys, in a hurry, kicked down a huge block that nailed my partner in the face. Tough guy, but, still needed several sets of stitches in the inside of his nose and upper mouth (bled like a stuck pig). Anyhoo, got a bit aggro for a second there, as we were pretty bummed but the guy was really sorry about it and offered to help with anything we needed. Was one of those "accidents waiting to happen" kinda guys. Nice, but, not all there. Dead now (no surprise IMHO). Sad.

Crowded ice is kinda wierd. If folks can pass, or, play through, they will. Then folks below are at risk.

Cut and paste a story I posted awhile back about climbing the Black Dike at Cannon in New Hampshire below.

-Brian in SLC

>The dike is the GWI of new england, looks like you had it all to
>yourself though.

Yeah, kinda funny. We're packin' up in the lot, its a tuesday morn, 'bout 8:45 or so, and John's a bit surprised no one's there. Then a car pulls up. Out pops a couple fella's. One asks me, "are you fast?" I'm thinkin', oh no. 'Cause, while I can sorta climb quickly, homey ain't no sprinter to the base. "Compared to what?" says I. "Well, how 'bout my grandma, and Will Gadd?" "I'm thinkin' somewhere in between". We chuckle. John and I are pretty much all packed and ready to go, and he's done it a couple times, whilst the other guys haven't, and, John can hike, uhh, rather quickly. So we're off. And they don't push us, which is nice for me.

Rope up, John's already off, most the way to the 1st pitch when they show up. Ugh, I think. But, we're on, so, up we go. I get to the belay and John takes off on p 2, which is all rock for a ways, and not just the standard traverse to ice. Its across, then up, then he disappears behind the rock into the shallow gully, finally, I can barely see him reach the ice which has to be only 30 or 40 feet below the standard p2 belay. By that time, the first guy has come up, and quickly, climbing leashless, not placing much if any pro, and asks from below if its ok to join me at the belay. No problemo, plenty of room. Which he does. He spends a few minutes backing up the belay with an ice screw and asks what my partner said about the second pitch. I say, "nothing, he just climbed it". "Hmmm". They're using talkabout radios, and, seems like there's a fierce bit of yelling from below.

I note that the second has set up his first pitch below smack dab in the middle of the ice fall. Hmmm. Was kinda funny, but, sorta not, that while climbing p1, the leader knocks loose a bit of ice, that flattens his belayer, actually knocking him off his feet, and I'm thinkin', good thing he didn't roll down the slope, or, he'd have pulled his leader right off the route. More yelling and it seems there hasn't been enough communication on the talkabouts? I couldn't figure the jist.

Anyhoo, I leave p1 belay and don't see them until the parkin' lot. But, there was a bit of yelling while we were climbing the last pitch. Still wonder what that was about. I get to the lot just after 2pm, John shows up a short while later (he went over and scouted Omega, which he has major wood for). John spotted them from the parking lot at the top of p2, just barely starting p3 at around 3ish.

So, yeah, was a bit strange. I wouldn't care to follow anyone on that route. Its a gun barrel. We'd discussed that, if there was someone ahead of us, we'd probably give them 2 or 3 hours and try to do it late in the day, but, not climb the route at the same time, which we both thought was a really dumb thing to do. You just can't avoid gettin' pummelled by ice from above. Which is exactly what the two guidebooks say as well. But, folk gotta get 'er done.

Funny. Kids these daze. Fast, but, some times I wonder if they lack a bit of saavy and common sense in their pursuits. More risk averse as I get older, I suppose.

I did want to leave a note on their car that said, "fast enough, eh?". Ha ha.

-Brian in SLC

jumar
01-28-2008, 08:17 PM
If you're climbing ice, some of it going to come down. I've always just been of the mind to stay out from under someone or it's my own fault.

climbinghalfdome
01-29-2008, 11:36 AM
Yep Ice will fall for sure.
I always set up a belay out of the line of fire, or as far from it as possible. As for the Stairway's first pitch (never been there) the Ice climbing school had the right idea. Find ice thats out of the way and stay there.
If you want to do the upper pitches, consider if its worth it. So it ruins your day not to do what you want, consider the risk you're imposing on others. Come back later when you have the place to yourself.
Also leave the dinner plates! They can refreeze and reattach. Choose concave spots in the ice for your axes as to avoid an exploding bulge. its just less ice for everyone it you loose it.
I think if I'd been there during all that, I'd come again another day. It maybe its a little inconvienient, but week day climbing far out shines the weekend climbing. LNT taught me that. That goes for Rock or Ice. I find its ther perfect way to let off steam after work. Not fast enough to do it before dark? Get fast! or light it up. Night climbing has its own feel and I love to pretend (in my mind) I'm going light and fast in Alaska, Patigonia, or Hymalayas.
Kevin in Kanab