14 Feb Eastern Sierra Ice Report – Lee Vining Canyon // February 11-13 , 2022
“Still Solid in LVC”
I spent the last few days up in Lee Vining Canyon and enjoyed some surprisingly great conditions for ice climbing. With the warm temperatures down in the valleys it was hard to imagine the ice not falling down the mountain, but LVC is conveniently sheltered from direct sunlight for most of the winter season making it very nice for ice climbing! Even with warm temps during the day, the night time lows are keeping things pretty solid up there at the Chouinards Wall and the Main Wall.
I ended up climbing the Chouinards Wall Friday, Saturday and Sunday with guests enjoying a pretty mellow time with minimal crowds. It’s looking like Comrads Corner is trying to make a comeback with some new ice forming at the top and starting to drip down but we’ll see how it fairs. Everything else is holding up well and we’ve been finding some really nice conditions. One thing I’ve been noticing on my first leads of the day on any of the flows is that a lot of ice is fracturing and coming down. This seems to happen most often in the sections between the wet flows and the dry flows with tool placement’s dinner plating on the majority of my swings. This can make a WI3 route feel quite a bit more intense! Saturday was a bit more busy at the Chouindards Wall with another guided group and a few rec parties but everyone was finding space to make things happen without too much crowding. Sunday was fairly mellow with just a couple recreational parties at Chouindards and a couple at the Main Wall and then one other guided party that stayed down on the “adventure flows” all day.
One of the biggest changes this weekend was the amount of ice and rock falling down on the opposite side of the canyon. The upper sections of the “adventure flows” are pretty much gone leaving only wet streaks and dry rock now. It’s hard to imagine these will reform. On the approach as you pass the narrows you can see evidence of this ice falling down with blocks the size of large microwaves and rocks littering the slope. I would not recommend climbing in this area until things cool down or if you can hit it early before the sun is on the upper cliffs.
Luckily we have some colder temperatures on the way this week, and possibly some fresh snow?!?! Starting tomorrow the forecast is saying the night time low temperatures will be below 20°F for the next 14 days and just a couple of those days getting high temperatures of 34-36°F this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It’s hard to imagine the conditions in June Lake held up as well this past week but hopefully these cooler temperatures will snap it back into shape. Thanks for tuning in, everyone. Hope to see you out on the ice again soon!