The United States South of the Canadian Border

The northeastern United States is well known for the wide variety of winter ice on such crags as Cathedra! Ledge in North Conway, New Hampshire, which harbors dozens of ice climbs, including the famous four-pitch Repentence and its harder neighbor, Remission. Not far away, Frankenstein Cliff offers routes in ail grades up to 300 feet, while 600-foot climbs on Cannon Mountain, such as the Black Dike and Fafnir, have a more serious air. The gullies in Huntington Ravine (the birthplace of winter ice climbing in the United States in the 1920s) are exposed to the renowned Mount Washington winds, which have been measured at over two hundred miles per hour!

Lake Willowby in Vermont has a wide, 400-foot-high cliff that sports a number of hard climbs, including the Promenade, a climb on good New England ice similar in length and difficulty to Colorado's Bridalveil Falls. Katahdin in Maine gives some of the hardest, longest, and most alpinelike climbing in the region on the walls of its several steep "basins" that lead to the 5,100-foot summit. However, the approach is long (fifteen miles) and the weather generally bad, so Katahdin is not as popular as some other areas.

Good summer gully climbing is available in the mountains of Wyoming and Montana, including the Tetons' Black Ice Couloir, the most famous. The Tetons have also yielded a number of high-quality off-season climbs. The Big Horns and Wind River Range hide some fine climbs for the person not afraid to explore with no certainty of finding anything. Both states also have good but little-publicized winter waterfall climbing. The waterfall climbs near Cody, Wyoming, are some of the best in the West.

Colorado and Utah are essentially void of alpine ice, but good off-season water ice can be found in the high mountains of Colorado, and winter provides opportunities for much frozen waterfall climbing. Some of the best concentrations of climbs rise above a highway in Provo Canyon, Utah, with more than a dozen fine lines up to 850 feet. Farther south, in Zion Canyon, several long routes have, in cold winters, formed on the sandstone walls. In the Ouray/Silverton/Telluride area in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado are Bridalveil Falls and Ames Falls, the two best climbs in the state, each having a distinct character. Rocky Mountain National Park, not far from Denver and Boulder, has relatively little ice to offer the many climbers who live in the area,- but what there is has been fully exploited, and the -term "mixed climbing" has been extended to include radical techniques on some short but very hard, iced-up rocks.

The Sierra Nevada of California are home to some of the most enjoyable gullies in the country. The V-Notch, the U-Notch, and the Mendel Couloir are justly popular climbs that are reached by pleasant hikes through John Muir's "Range of Light." Ice Nine, to the left of the Mendel Couloir, is a challenging mixed route. In cold winters Yosemite Valley offers the 1,000-foot Widow's Tears, which may be America's most beautiful ice climb. Further north, in Washington, are Mount Rainier and other peaks of the Cascade Mountains. Rainier has been the training ground for generations of Pacific Northwest expedition climbers, the many glaciers on its flanks closely simulating conditions in the greater ranges. Other Cascade peaks, such as the north faces of Mount Maude and Mount Redoubt, though still glaciated, are considerably steeper than Rainier and contain some good, moderate, alpine-type routes. In some winters, off-season-type ice forms excellent climbs like the Northwest Face of Mount Stuart and the Eve Dearborn Memorial Route on Mount Index.

Souih America

Between the southern Rocky Mountains and the northern Andes in Columbia few opportunities exist for the ice climber, with the exception of the high volcanoes near Mexico City. But from Columbia to Patagonia, the entire Andean chain is icy in its higher elevations. Peru's Cordillera Blanca is the most popular and accessible of the areas. Routes of all grades, on ice that varies from porridge to good water ice, can be found at altitudes between 18,000 and 22,000 feet. Huaraz, the main jumping-off point for the Blanca, is a Spanish-speaking Chamonix in June and July, the best climbing months. Even farther south, the Vinson Massif in Antarctica is 16,000 feet high with 7,000-foot faces.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment