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    Ice Ice Baby!

    Ice Ice Baby!

    We’re back for another Eastern Sierra Ice Report. It’s been a few weeks and a few things have changed here in the Eastern Sierra. We have had a few snow storms hit the range that have kept our snowpack interesting but even more interesting is how cold it’s been. Or lack thereof! We have been seeing oddly warm temperatures in the range over the last couple weeks but the ice is still holding on. 

    June Lake Area: 

    June Lake

    We have been out climbing at Horsetail Falls and North Gully last week and have found some fun ice to climb. It has not come without its challenges though. The approach up to Horsetail Falls has been a bit trickier this season with a low snowpack in the June area; it’s made the fixed line section feel like proper 4th class rock climbing. Not to mention several funky snow bridges to cross. Once you’re up at the base of Horsetail you might notice some interesting ice debris that could have only been knocked down by giants with the biggest ice tools ever made… or maybe the amount of running water over the falls and under the ice with the combination of warmer temperatures has created a recipe for spontaneous ice fall the size of small refrigerators? Either way the right side of the falls is quite dangerous right now. The far left side on the other hand was climbing quite well. 

    Intro to Ice Climbing Course on Horsetail Falls

    I climbed up North Gully on January 15th and had a grand old time. There are several open holes to navigate that have likely gotten a bit larger in the last week but we were able to climb some nice ice all the way to the top. 

    North Gully

    Tatum Falls looked like it was in for a day or two as well but the lower half quickly faded during a long warm spell last week. 

    Carson Peak looked to still have some decent ice flowing last week too but as soon as we get some more snow, most of those routes will become ski runs if they haven’t already. 

    Lee Vining Canyon: 

    Chouinard Wall

    I spent the last few days climbing in LVC with several different groups and found good ice on the Main Wall and at the Chouinard Wall. The approach has slowly been filling in, and for the most part goes fairly smoothly at the moment. 

    Chouinard wall is in pretty good shape right now and most routes are in, with the exception of Tree Route. Conrad’s Corner was climbable but quite thin down low. The flows on the far right side (Larry and Moe) look quite scrappy right now but seem to be climbing ok from what it seems. 

    Heel Toe Wall is trying to form up and might be there in thin conditions soon. Mixed climbing specialists might be psyched though! 

    The Main Wall has ice top to bottom on the Plumb Line. The Main Line looks climbable but quite thin in sections. Spiral Staircase is trying to come in but hasn’t fully formed up yet. At least not for a full on ice ascent. P1 of Caveman is in and lean. The initial slab start is also very thin. 

    P1 of Caveman on the Main Wall
    P1 of Plumb Line on Main Wall
    P2 of Plumb Line on Main Wall

    Summary: 

    The ice that’s in, is climbing well and hopefully will hold on in the next couple weeks but we do have some very warm temperatures on the horizon for this weekend and early next week. Be sure to follow the forecast as well as the ESAC avalanche forecast before venturing out into the backcountry! 

    10. Happy climbers Alex and Kyle after a big day on the Main Wall