07 Feb Eastern Sierra Ice Report – Lee Vining Canyon and June Lake // February 4-6 , 2022
“Let’s keep our fingers crossed!”
The ice in February is off to a great start here in the Eastern Sierra and this past weekend was just delightful with cool, sunny, bluebird days with pretty much zero wind. I keep asking myself “how are we out climbing ice in these conditions?!?!” Let’s keep our fingers crossed that things don’t warm up too much or we’ll be in for a quick ice season.
June Lake: (Horsetail Falls/North Gully) Feb 5th
As warm as it’s been in the June Lake area lately things are still holding on quite well and climbing even better. I was out on North Gully and Horsetail Falls again this past Saturday with one guest (Caitlyn) and we had a blast. Starting out on the N. Gully and finding things to still be in pretty decent shape. The last pitch is starting to feel a bit thin and hollow so let’s hope the June area keeps getting a nice refreeze in the evenings.
Once we topped out on that, we rappeled over to Horsetail Falls for a few more laps and encountered a happening scene with about 20 people (including us) in total out ice climbing! Somehow everyone seemed to have their own little section of ice and it all went pretty smoothly. One of the rec groups had a near miss that afternoon with two climbers taking a big ride down the snow slope on the far left side and almost colliding into another group. No one ended up getting hurt but it was a wake up call. I’m not totally sure how the two climbers ended up sliding but it’s a good reminder to keep your systems tight and your head on a swivel and always be asking yourself “Where are we most at risk at any given moment?” throughout the day.
Lee Vining Canyon: Feb 4th and 6th
Friday and Sunday I was out in Lee Vining Canyon with two different guests (Dave on friday and Cailyn on Sunday) with great weather and conditions both days. Friday I spent the day at Chouinards Wall with Dave practicing some mock leading and more anchor building skills. Chouinards Wall is still climbing really well and Tree Route seems to be hanging on! The middle set of chains is still covered in a deep layer of ice and will likely be this way the rest of the season.
Sunday I was back out in LVC with my guest Caitlyn again for day 2 of our weekend. It started out windy and cold but as soon as we started climbing the wind died down and we found ourselves again enjoying some incredibly nice conditions. To start the day off we climbed on the first sections of the “Adventure Flows”. This was maybe some of the most fun ice I’ve climbed all season, with some short steep sections separated but really nice ledges and rests. A full 40 meters right now from the start of the ice to the tree at the top which has a nice rappel anchor installed on it right now. Be aware: I have been seeing ice and rock fall down this section of the canyon almost every day I’ve been out in LVC for the past few weeks. If you intend to climb in this area an early start is advised or go later in the day once the zone has gone back into shade.
After warming up and playing around with some anchors we made our way up to the Main Wall. There were a couple other groups climbing here, one group on the Center Flow and another on Caveman. With Chouinards Wall looking a bit crowded we opted to not wait in line and hop on pitch one of the Main Line. This season the Main Line is coming in pretty fat up high with a very steep section leading to the bulge and the start of the route climbing a bit thin but dry with nice plastic conditions. Overall this might be the steepest section of ice in the canyon at the moment. This was a great pitch to end the day and get our arms and calves fully pumped!
We’re off to a great start for February so far and if we keep getting a good freeze overnight things will continue to get better. The highs for the next week are forecasted to be above freezing which isn’t great, but we’ll be getting lows below 20°F at night which should keep things in pretty good shape. Let’s keep the pos vibes rolling and we might just find ourselves sending some good fun ice all the way into March! See you out there next week!