Eastern Sierra Ice Report: 12.31.20 // Good bye 2020!

In Conditions Reports, Eastern Sierra Ice Report, From the Range of Light & Fast by Michael O'ConnorLeave a Comment

Disclaimer: By reading this ice report you understand and accept ice climbing is a dangerous activity requiring significant skill and experience. This report is for reference only and does not erase personal responsibility for your own actions and decision making.

Happy New Years Eve! I hope everyone is ready to get 2020 done and over with!

Just a few updates for our Eastern Sierra ice climbing venues to report. First, the ice is still out there and it’s getting better.

Horsetail Falls Areas:

North Gully: (as of 12.31.20) I just climbed the North Gully of Horsetail Falls today and it was a blast! The approach is boot packed in with plenty of snow left over from our last storm as you would expect. Crampons on early was nice for the hike up the tram tracks. The ice over all was good, but watch out for the snow coverage and thinner crust layers of ice in certain areas. There is good ice to be had but you may need to do some digging. Good ice anchors can be found all the way up to the top, but things did start thinning out a little as we got higher. One thing to note, if you decide to walk off from the top, take care in navigating this section. There is a lot of running water under just a thin layer of ice with a lot of snow on top. I’ve heard tales of climbers falling through… never to be seen again. Just kidding! But I wouldn’t be fun to fall in one of those holes.

North Gully 12.31.20
The new Camp Rocket Ice Screws have been super nice to use this season.
SMG Guest Brian cruising up North Gully today.

Horsetail Falls: (as of 12.19.20) From SMG Guide Geoff Unger– “The Right and Left Flows on the Main Wall of Horsetail Falls are in condition for climbing. This area is a slightly shorter walk and has less snow on the approach than Lee Vining Canyon. There are two sections of fixed line installed on a ramp/gully to reach the main area.”

Tatum Falls: (as of 12.31.20) Looks climbable but I haven’t been out on it yet or heard from anyone that has.

Lee Vining Canyon: (as of 12.18.20)

I haven’t been out to Lee Vining in a bit, but here is what SMG Guide Geoff Unger had to say: “The jewel of east side ice saw some traffic over the weekend and the track is in to Chouinard’s. Of note is the limited amount of real estate available for climbing at the popular area. 3 or Maybe 4 Anchors have suitable climbing under them. At times it is possible to head down canyon to Main Wall and do some single pitch climbing, but this flow is very lean right now. Another alternative could be to head just above Chouinard’s to the short flows in the back of the Canyon.”

Note: There has been considerable snow fall since this observation. The approach is likely much different now.

Crystal Crag: (as of 12.20.20) From SMG Guide Geoff Unger– “Most people think of Crystal Crag as a pleasant summer outing, but it can provide plenty of fun and an additional challenge to tackle it in winter. Try the classic North Arete in boots! Or don crampons and go up one of the snowy ramps typically used for descent. Many options exist so good route finding, movement and rope skills are required.”

And that’s all she wrote. I hope you all enjoy the final hours of 2020 and always remember to keep your tools sharp and your knots tight!

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