10 Jan Eastern Sierra Ice Report – Lee Vining Canyon // January 7-9, 2022 “It’s Great where it’s good!”
I just finished up a couple days of guiding out in Lee Vining Canyon this past weekend (Friday and Sunday) and was pleasantly surprised with the conditions we had! The approach is fully packed in and no longer requires snow shoes. Be careful on the second creek crossing as the snow bridge looks like it’s sinking in a bit and will likely cave in soon unless we get some more snow. The normal creek crossing spot just upstream will likely be the next spot to move the approach trail to if this section caves in.
Chouinards Wall is coming in quite strange this season. There is a lot of ice forming in the middle sections but the flanks are not seeing much growth at all. There is water flowing on top of the ice in many sections creating wet slushy ice. But just to the sides of these sections we have been finding really nice “plastic” ice! Comrad’s Corner is not filling in much at all yet, and the Tree Route is still quite thin in sections and doesn’t seem to be growing much. The far right side of Chouinards Wall is filling a bit but the bottom half is mostly filled in with snow. Good protection can be found throughout the cliff but be careful of the hollowed out sections where the snow has filled up on ledges and created pockets behind a thin shell of ice.
The Main Wall seems to have been getting some more action and looks to be filling in more than last season in some sections. I climbed the first pitch of “Caveman” WI 5 with my guest yesterday and found the standard thin section down low to climb very well and take a good 10cm screw below the main pillar/curtain. The rest of the way up the pitch good protection was abundant and the climbing steep! Fellow guide Ian McEleny reported really good conditions on the upper half of “Main Line” last week and it’s looking even better now.
Summary: Overall the conditions seem to be great where it’s good but the cliff is still looking pretty lean compared to this time last year. It’s still quite early in the season so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for some more winter storms and for the cliff to really start filling out soon. Getting some leads in on the Main Wall this early is a good sign though!