Eastern Sierra Ice Report UPDATE // January 9th, 10th and 11th.

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

Hope everyone has had a good start to 2021! I just wanted to drop in a little update for the LVC and June Lake areas. I was out in LVC this past Saturday (January 9, 2021) with a group and we had a really nice time on the Chouinards Wall. We had another guide out in the June Lake area today and here’s what we saw:

Lee Vining Canyon UPDATE (January 9th and 10th) 

Approach: 

Overall tame, if you choose wisely. From the parking area head into the trees for the normal approach. Once you reach the initial talus field you have two options. Left is the normal way which may take you quite a long time to navigate the snowy blocks and until we get some more snow will be a real hazard if you slipped into a large hole. If you go right, you’ll still have some snowy blocks to travel through but it’s only for a short distance. This will put you on the climbers right side of the creek. Follow this through the trees parallel to the talus filed until you meet up with the normal approach. There is a good boot pack to follow so it’ll be hard to miss. From here it’s smooth sailing all the way to the ice. 

Photo: Geoff Unger

Ice Conditions: 

  • Chouinards Wall is pretty much fully in and fat except for the Comrads Corner route. There is a small smear of ice but would require a good amount of dry tooling and rock protection. The far right side past Tree Route is in but a little thin. Everything else is climbing pretty well and taking good screws. There are some sections where snow pockets have been covered by a thin crust of ice that leaders should be aware of when placing protection. Pay attention to  the resistance and the amount of ice being evacuated when placing ice screws. This will also create much larger ice fall for belayers to be aware of. Think about positioning your belayers strategically. 
  • Main Wall is looking really nice right now. We did not climb on the main wall but I observed a large group of recreational climbers with a couple top ropes here. One on the main flow and one on Caveman. The main flow looked leadable all the way to the top with a short section of thinner ice at the start. Here are a few photos from one of our guides that climbed this yesterday (January 10, 2021). 
  • The Heel-Toe wall has few little spots of ice forming and the Bard Harrington wall is still completely bare as well as the Narrows. 

Crowds: 

It was a busy day out in LVC on Saturday. When we arrived there was one other rec party of two on the right side of Chouinards. By the time we had our ropes set up there were 2 other groups approaching. By the end of the day I observed a total of 12 people on Chouinards (including my group of 5), 2 folks on the first pitch of Scrappy’s Child and then a group of 6 down on the main wall. Totalling 20 people in total out in LVC on Saturday. Everyone showed up at different times which made the flow of groups easier to manage. It also helped that everyone was very considerate of each other and not squeezing in too tight. 

Photo: Michael O’Connor

LVC Summary: 

LVC is really good right now. The approach is mellow and if you can manage the crowds you’ll have a really great time out there. The flows of ice further up the canyon look really nice right now too. This will be a good alternative option if there are too many people on Chouinards or the Main Wall. Have fun out there! 

June Lake Area UPDATE (January 11th)

Horsetail Falls, North Gully, and Tatum Falls:

Geoff Unger was out with two guests in the June Lake area yesterday and it looks like the North Gully is still in decent shape. The ice flow on Horsetail Falls proper looks good but be aware of the opening in the ice. This area is now getting a bit more sun throughout the day and open water will be more likely to shell ice down to the base of the flow. Be extremely careful about where you are setting up to belay, etc. Here are a few photos Geoff took from yesterday.


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