Ortopvr Ii Wi Ms

{Photo: Brad Johnson)

Location: You will find Octopussy in the Rigid Designator amphitheater in East Vail, Colorado.

First Ascent: Jeff Lowe, April 1994

Elevation Gain: About 120 feet, including the Seventh Tentacle

Equipment: Four ice screws, half a dozen quickdraws, Friends to #3

Season: December through the end of March

Comments: Although the Seventh Tentacle varies greatly in difficulty (from M6+ to M7+) depending on how far down the ice hangs, Octopussy itself will probably always be M8—only slightly easier when the curtain hangs down more than a few feet below the roof. From a safety standpoint, it is a good idea to refrain from placing a screw in the ice curtain until you are well above the roof line. This eliminates the risk of the curtain breaking with you on it, attached by the screw to a ton of falling ice.

Approach: Driving west from Vail Pass on Interstate 70, take the East Vail exit and follow the frontage road west until it passes under the freeway. Turn left toward a fancy housing development and immediately left again into a parking area. From the parking area walk east, then take the first right and go south through the cul-de-sac to a bridge that crosses Gore Creek. You are now on a maintained cross-country ski trail. Follow this east for several hundred yards until the Rigid Designator and the Fang (if it is formed) come into view on the right. The Seventh Tentacle is directly behind the Fang, to the left of the smear of ice called the Little Thang. Octopussy is the clump of ice hanging from the left end of the roof above and left of the Seventh Tentacle, Follow the climbers' trail (or posthole) across the meadow, through the aspen grove, and up the drainage to the climb.

Route: Although it is possible to begin with the Little Thang (M6), you might as well start with the Seventh Tentacle (M6+ to M7+ S), which is just to the left of the three bolts that begin the former route If you are unable to make the moves on the Seventh Tentacle, there is no point in attempting Octopussy. The Seventh Tentacle can be identified by a fixed angle piton 8 feet off the ground in a block, with a single bolt 4 feet higher Belay from bolts underneath the roof at the top of the ice about 80 feet up. Octopussy begins with a moderate rock traverse (M4) left under the roof for about 25 feet. Soon you will see two fixed pitons at the junction of the roof and the wall, and two more out underneath the roof Very technical hooking moves and extreme acrobatics lead out the 10-foot roof to the ice. Be gentle with the hook placements, as they could be destroyed by flailing. Once you are on the face of the ice, it is only 10 feet more to the top.

Tbfl crux IwodwoH of Trapodo'i Descent: Rappel from a V-thread, removing your protection as you go, or, if your Sooth Foce. (Photo: JbH Lowe) second is going to follow, climb up into the trees and traverse left to the fixed rappel point at the top of the Rigid Designator.

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