Happy Spring Ice Climbers!
Ice has been good this season, and we haven’t had many interesting ice happenings to report on until now. Spring is in the air and has recently sprung in force, so we are looking at the tail end of the ice climbing season around here. That said, we had some thick and fortuitous ice formations this winter that are holding on well at this point. As most climbers shift focus to the sunny rocky crags, the next couple of weeks may be a great opportunity to climb ice lines with minimal crowds.
As always this time of year the assessment of ice stability is of paramount importance. Don’t mess with rotten ice, and especially don’t put any ice screws into it! If setting up topropes or directionals in the ice that may see hours of use, consider using redundant systems and angle your screws more away from the direction of pull. Better yet, use V-threads, as they are typically much less prone to melt out when temps are warm. In Lee Vining Canyon, a surprising amount of solar radiation bounces off the opposite side of the canyon so pay attention to the effect of that on the ice on sunny days. Watch evening low temperatures and look for cool, clear evenings to help plan which days may be best for climbing. Start and finish early. Most of all, don’t be too proud to walk away if safety is uncertain. Bring your rock shoes or your skis so you have a perfectly acceptable plan B for the day. Other than that, enjoy the season finale on the ice before it is gone and we have to wait another long summer for more of California’s best ice climbing right here on the Eastside of the Sierra.
recent photos from March 18-19th: