16 February 2010

The Real Big Tick

After a few frustrating days it has been good to get a couple of routes finished. Following our unsuccessful first visit we went back to redpoint the Real Big Drip: (more HERE)

The Real Big Drip; a totally brilliant route packed with great climbing.

Driving in to the Ghost Valley was not difficult as there is very little snow now, but a 4x4 or a lot of courage is required to get near to the rote (we have a 4x4). We followed our tracks in the snow from the previous day and got to the base of The Drip ready to go for it. As Ramon had put in the leg work to find the holds the previous day we decided that he should have first crack at pitch 1. This crux pitch is graded M7 in the Rockies Mixed Guide and I think this is a bit stingy! so a very good lead by Ramon got us to the first bolted belay.

Ramon near the flake on pitch 1

Pitch 2 (my lead) was meant to ramble up the ice shrooms on the left, but on closer inspection I was stopped by a rock band (the alternative, overhanging ice of the main pillar, didn't entice me!). Luckily some crimping got me to a bolt then some psychological pro in a ice bracket helped me back to more permanent ice. Now it was Ramon's turn for the M7+ pitch 3; climbing well he held on to make a cool onsight of the steep limestone wall. This pitch was physically easier than the first and holds were easier to find but it was still a good test. I followed Ramon up the small limestone edges then struggled up a rock/ice chimney with the backpack to a belay behind the final pillar. To start the final hard pitch I tapped my way up aerated vertical ice forming the back of the curtain, after clipping the tat extending from a piton I traversed left hooking a partially reformed horizontal crack that threatened to drop me and the curtain. Poor footholds focussed my attention as I turned round the edge of the curtain on to the face and some vertical ice to easy ground.

On the way round the curtain edge

Two more pitches got us to the top of the Real Big Drip as it was getting dark, on with the headtorches for some spooky abseils past weird ice features looming out of the darkness. Down on the ground we could relax a bit more but there was still the walk and drive out to complete without any trouble.

hmmmm.... I wonder if my tongue will freeze to that krab?

During the day temperatures were warm but the Drip was not thawing, this was not the case for snow covering the featureless forest floor. When we reached the trees our tracks back to the 4x4 had mostly vanished! I have got lost in Fontainebleau forest before let alone the Ghost, somehow by linking occasional snow filled depressions in the moss we found our truck and only missed one turning on the track back. Pizza at 11pm. 0700 start to collect a slightly battered Kristoffer Szillas for a look at Pilsner Pillar.

Kristoffer on his 3rd Wi6 of the weekend (2 previous routes had dropped ice on his head)

I made an attempt at Lucky Lager in the back of the cave behind Pilsner, it quickly beat me off with to many excuses to go in to here. Then, much to the disappointment of the damp Pilsner team, I set off up another mixed route on the right hand side of the crag (something in the Traditional Ale area where there are now 3 lines).

Some bolts, loose rocks, screws and pegs lead up to the hanging ice finale. (photo Kristoffer Szilas & Ramon Marin)

Leaving the Pilsner Amphitheatre to go home for a rest. photo Kristoffer Szilas

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