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    Super Bowl Weekend!?

    Super Bowl Weekend!?

    I spent the past two days climbing out in Lee Vining Canyon with my good friend Dave to celebrate the Super Bowl by smashing up some ice and freezing our tails off! No, neither of us really cared much about the super bowl this year, especially for me since the Ravens totally blew it a couple weeks ago. Anyway, we were psyched to find the crowds mostly mellow, and the ice fattening up quite a bit since the last time I was out. 

    Approach conditions on 2/10/24 

    The last storm cycle that hit the Eastern Sierra produced 60+ inches of new snow over a nine day period from January 31st to February 8th. Pool Power Plant Road was cleared this past Thursday and is in good shape with plenty of parking at the power station. Please remember to park mindful of the power station operations so they can move equipment in and out, as well as other users heading out to the ice. The approach has filled in quite nicely now and there is a good track all the way to the Chouinard Falls wall. Snowshoes have been helpful the last couple days but judging by how many people made it out there without them, they do not seem necessary if you don’t mind postholing?

    SMG Guide Mija leading up Chouinard Wall
    Dave climbing up Piolet on Chouinard Wall

    Saturday the temperatures finally dropped to a level that seems appropriate to be ice climbing for the first time in a while with a high of around 20 degrees F. Dave and I climbed on the main flows (Piolet WI3 and Classic Curve WI3+) at the Chouinard Wall alongside my coworker Mija and his clients, Paul and Murali all day with a handful of other parties and had a blast. Tree route has still oddly not really formed up this season. Comrad’s Corner is looking a bit fatter and the couple routes on the far right side (Curly and Moe) are a good mix of steep/deep snow with a bit of ice. Overall Chouinard Wall is in pretty good shape considering the slow winter we have been having. 

    Dave climbing up P1 of Plumb Line on the Main Wall

    On Sunday the temps warmed up a bit but still stayed very cold in the canyon. Dave and I spent the day climbing on the Main wall which has been filling in quite a bit since the last time I was out in LVC. The Plumb Line is climbing very well from top to bottom. Pitch one of Caveman looks to be fattening up nicely but still hasn’t really connected to the top yet. The Main Line is growing a bit more but would likely need a couple stubbies. Spiral Staircase looks like it’s got enough ice on it to be lead now. Of note for the day was how much snow and ice layering we cleaned off on our rappel from the top of the main wall. All the ledges that have collected snow in this last storm had a lot of crappy ice supported very poorly by faceted snow. We cleaned some very large sheets of ice that would have been a nightmare to try and climb through. Take care to navigate this terrain being very mindful of your ice fall. 

    Dave topping out Plumb Line on the Main Wall
    Main Wall overview from 2/11/24

    I haven’t been into June Lake since the last storm but have heard things are still quite thin. Hopefully things have fattened up with this last cold snap. We have some more snow and unfortunately some above freezing temps in the forecast for this week into the weekend. Hopefully the overnight freezes are deep enough to hold the current conditions for us. With some new snow in the forecast the approach should continue to fill in, likely making snowshoes the travel method of choice. But we’ll have to wait and see how much it actually produces and if it affects the road conditions to the Pool Power Plant. Hope everyone is having a good start to the week!