Just got back from a great trip up north, to blow off a little steam and to play with new toys. Here's a short recap:
Day 1: Drove up to Keene Valley from New Paltz after work on Thursday. Got to the Ausable Inn at 8pm and met My partner Jung. Realized I left my double boots home...^@&!@%!! Weather clear and cold. Stayed at High Peaks Base Camp. This is an adequate facility in Upper Jay. $20 bucks a night includes a full breakfast.
Day 2: Spent the morning buying new boots at the Mountaineer in Keene Valley. Oh, how I hate giving them my money!! They are a great pair of Leather ice boots though. Jung and I drive to Chapel Pond only to see a mob at the base of Chouinards. We drive over to Roaring Brook falls and hike in. It is in so FAT!!, but also mobbed. We go back to Chapel Pond and decide to do Dogleg Right (NEI 3+). I draw the first lead. The first pitch is VERY thin, and I swing delicately. It gets a little thicker at around 100 feet and I am able to sink in a nubber screw. The other three pitches were a snow gully with occasional bulges, very reminiscent of Shoestring Gully in the Whites. Back down and over to Chouinards, (NEI 3). It is 3:30, and we put on our headlamps. The ice is thick, and very chopped out. We do it in two rope stretching pitches. We draft the entire first pitch on old pick holes. I led the second pitch, finishing on the steeper columns to the right. We rappel, and are back at the car by 5:15pm.....not a bad ascent!
Day 3: Roarng Brook Falls, (NEI 3+) looked too good yesterday to pass up, so we head out early and are the first ones there. Jung takes the awesome looking first pitch, and stretches the rope all the way. Great climbing, but also very chopped out, making it a lot easier. I take the last rope stretching lead to the top. It is a great moderateice climb, and I can see it being a lot harder on virgin ice. Back to the car by 10:30 and drive over to Multiplication Gully, (NEI 3+) in Wilmington Notch. Weather so far has been great, but now it is starting to snow. we eat PB&J's in the car....YUMMY!!! The book is right..a short, but very tedious bushwhack leads to this great looking climb. Jung again stretches the rope on the first pitch. I take the second, and incredibly awesome pitch up to the top, on continuous 3+ ice....what a great pitch! We are glowing on the way back to the lodge. Back at the lodge we are greeted by a surprise. A fellow Gunks.com climber meets us a day early. The three of us head back to the Ausable Inn. I have perhaps the best piece of prime rib ever. I cut off a piece of fat the size of an ATC and sicken both katie and Jung by eating it whole...YUMMY!!! Katie and I decide to hike Algonquin tomorrow while Jung goes boarding at Whiteface.
Day 4: Katie and I break trail all the way up Algonquin,( actually katie breaks most of it..hee hee). we have gotten a lot of snow, and by the time we hit treeline we are on five feet of mixed powder and packed snow. Whiteout conditions and snowshoe problems dictate that we turn around, but it was a good hike nevertheless. After a nice hot shower, seperate of course, we hit Lake Placid for New Years Eve. Some pizza started us off, and we eventually would hit three different bars before the night was over. Of course, I was my typical suave, debonair self with the ladies, (I struck out multiple times). Thanks to Katie for being the designated driver on a horrible weather night.
Day 5: Katie wakes up early and goes skiing before heading home. Jung and I both have fuzzy tongues, and fall back asleep after saying goodbye. We wake up again at 1pm, feeling mildly better, and decide to go try Chillar Pillar, (NEI 4). A group of 11 French Canadians are camped out on it, and the mixed wall to the right. I decide to lead Chillar Pillar via the easiest line, my first Grade 4- lead ever. It goes well, and I only hang once from my tool at about 75 feet. But hey, with ice it is all about getting up without impaling yourself, so if I have to clip into a tool and rest, that is what I will do!!! Jung Topropes a sick mixed line to the right, impressing everybody.
Day 6: we pack up to go home today, then head out for Poke-O-Moonshine. I have never even seen the cliff before, and am awed when I drive by. What even makes it scarier is the sight of the line we want...Neurosis,(NEI 3+ mixed, with a 4+ finish). If Chillar Pillar was a happy blue column of ice, then Neurosis was an evil sentinel, just waiting to collect the souls of two weary climbers. Jung and I look at each other on the road, mouths open wide. We hike in for a better look. Thankfully, someone has broken trail, but when we get there, there are two French canadians at the base. Eventually they decide not to do it, saying the ice is too thin and aerated. Thin indeeed! The first two pitches had an inch of ice in the best spots. I took the first lead, delciately tick, ticking with my tools, and scraping rock with my crampons under the ice. I found a good alien out right at 25 feet, but that was it. Jung takes the second. If his mother saw what he did, she would kill him!! Horribly thin ice...brittle...steep, but with rock pro out right every now and again to lure him upwards. Jung is usually a fast leader, but this 150' pitch took him one and a half hours. He had the fear of God put in him I think, because he was unusually quiet at the belay when I got there. Another 200' pitch of easier, and somewhat thicker ice for me. Jung takes a short section of easy ice up to a column. This column had an aura about it. It radiated a feeling. Anyone know what I mean? If you do, then you understand what this was all about. It was bordering on grade 5, it was deep blue, and it was 100 feet long. Jung hands me the lead, and I decline...I know my limitations!! Jung boldly takes it, but hangs in multiple spots. I have never seen him that frazzled. He tops out at darkness. I quickly follow, and we spend the next two hours rapping the route in darkness, sans headlamps, (DOHHH!!) Started the climb at 2pm, down at 7:30...drove home only to realize I have lost my house keys. I stay at a friends in New Paltz until my landlord gets home.
Synopsis: Good weather, (minus one snowstorm), great ice, some scary leads, good friends, and lots of beer. This is RangerRob's recipe for a great ice trip!!