‘Tis the year for Leavenworth ice climbing.

I spent the day with a couple friends climbing some fantastic ice in Tumwater and Icicle Canyons.  An overcast sky kept the temperatures cool and the ice continues to grow.  All told, we did 6 pitches on three routes.

Up first was a three pitch undocumented route (perhaps a first ascent) in the Tumwater.  We don’t have a name for it yet, but that will come soon.  Anyways, the climb is across the Wenatchee River from Castle Rock, just upstream from the ice climb Comic Book Hero.  The approach is one of the easiest in Leavenworth too–just follow the trail across the bridge and take a right on the old road.  Follos the snowshoe packed trail for twenty minutes of flat walking, put crampons on, and start climbing.  Zero approach slogging on this route.  Anyways, the route begins with a 20’ WI3 step followed by a two rope lengths of ice up to WI2, topped off by an incredible WI4 flow in a tight slot. At the top, we did one 60 meter rappel then downclimbed off to climber’s left back to the base.

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Up next was a closer inspection of a rare testpiece–The Drip.  It is a rare year when The Drip’s free hanging pillar even touches the ground;  right now it’s about 6′ in diameter at the base and well formed all the way to the top.  Unfortunately for me, The Drip lived up to its name today and was dripping heavily.  Due to that fact and that I didn’t have an adze on my ice tools to chop away poor quality ice, I only made it a little ways up before deciding it prudent to try again another day (tomorrow).

Attempting The Drip (WI6)

Me starting up “The Drip,” a rare WI6 in Tumwater Canyon.

Another day of great ice awaits us tomorrow before a big storm will deposit feet of snow in the valley and turn to rain as it is so fond of doing nowadays.  Hopefully all the ice won’t fall down in the warm spell.