The next day we delved deep Wo the Gothic lenafe of a 150-foot mineralized golden i »l i ■■tnj-l —-x -l ... j.hm m lim-

laoyrmtn ot cmmittrmng mushrooms draped from a huge rock cave end supported by a pilar of poorly welded pendl kldes which required smooth climbing to avoid slidng through with the picks. Crampon holds could be fashioned by kicking the entire toe into the friable surface, making an mtrustworthy step. Protection «1 this 50-foot WIS* section came only from the mind.

A second, mare substantial, pillar led up into the overhangs. Although a fracture line bisected the base, I arranged goad protection from screws to begin. The climbing was steep but psychologically less demanding Aft« twenty or thirty feet I was able to stum a shoulder back against one of the huge Iddes (lower left), which allowed me ta rest and piece another screw In preparation for the crux section through the upper roofs. A couple of traverse moves directly to the right (upper left) put me in line with a groove through the overhangs. Finally, WI6 climbing led up into tight pick and crampon placements in a bomb-bay chimney [right].

Right On the initial fragile pilar, Bird was surprised by bow nebulous pkk and trmnpon placemen Is can be hi a mass thai looks sold from a distance. Even handholds she triad would crumble unexpectedly In her grip. Her customary Rght step was Inadequate in the» conditions. Fran my position I could faintly hear Bird's seH-encouragement as she dealt wfth the stroage medum. She coached herself through the difficulties, remaining calm and faceted as she teak hi new sensations and leoriid.

Above: Above the chimney thirty feet of booking led up lower-angle caufiflowered he to the top of the formation.

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In ethereal, fragile, chanrieliered, overhanging tenon like this, an open-minded exploratory attitude is repaired. Careful, calculated, deliberate limbing, questioning every section of ke and anticipating the effect of climbing on it, whether it will collapse or support your ascent, is the only approach that offers the hope of consistent success and a long life. Bird was forced to locus extra attention on getting adequate pick placements hi the confined space of the narrow, overhanging slot. She gave a yeil of relief when she finally deared the overhangs «id was able to cfimb with her hands un the last coulfflowered section.

placing protection is the simplest and purest on steep tee, but a deep and narrow starting hole for the screw or piton must be chipped. The technique conserves energy and allows long, clean, vertical ascents.

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Taping the wHit loop to the shaft ef ywir axe at a plate dese ta the bottom grip reduces the strength necessary ta hold on in vertical and overhanging situations. (Photo; Brad Johnson)

Taping the wHit loop to the shaft ef ywir axe at a plate dese ta the bottom grip reduces the strength necessary ta hold on in vertical and overhanging situations. (Photo; Brad Johnson)

Our last morning ia Ouray we cfinibed a bolow lube in O'F conditions Although the wails of (Ms particular tube were thtdc and solid, the fragile, eggshell-like nature of the formation was brought home to me hdfway op when I planted a tool and the entire feature vibrated with a loud "CRACK." Gingerly I climbed to the top, avoiding placing any awe protection so as not to add further stress. Just below the junction of the apex of tbe tube mid the main ice formation I found the one-inch' wide fracture hue- With a toprope and without screws in the ipper tube, it was safe for Bird to follow the pitch and see for herieH one of the potential haimds of waterfal ice dimbing. (Photos: ion Jomlinsonl

Clearing a Bulge

Often the most difficult moves on a pitch are at the top or where you must clear a bulge. The normal tendency is to reach far over and plant the tools as far back from the lip as possible. However, this makes it impossible to see your feet as you come over the bulge, What's more, you won't be able to keep your heels low enough as your tendons simply won't Stretch that far, and you will find your frontpoints shearing out. It is better to plant your tools just over the bulge and climb and mantel on them until your feet are above the lip. Then replant your tools higher.

Grabbing and Hooking Natural HoUs

On steep waterfall climbs you will often find features that provide good natural holds for hands, feet, and tools. Whenever a climb is chandeliered or cauli-flowered, it is often better to look for handholds or to simply hook the features with your toots rather than to try to plant your picks solidly. You will find that wet wool gloves or mittens stick well to cold ice, sort of like ice climbers' chalk. With experimentation you will discover that it is more secure to iieback up a small pillar, hooking your picks behind the ice, rather than to risk shattering the fragile column.

Class 6 Ue Techniques

The monkey hang is a good pure technique for climbing well-formed vertical ice. However, you will often encounter grooves, pillars, overhangs, and other formations that make the climbing more difficult. On ice between 90° and 95° you can use a modified monkey hang that includes what I call a cross-body loci. This is a kind of turn-out maneuver where, instead of facing the ice directly as you pull up to replant your tool, you rotate sideways. If you are hanging from your right arm, for example, turn your left hip and shoulder into the ice, standing on the outside edge of your left crampon and inside edge of your right crampon. This locks your gently crooked right arm across your chest and allows a

Pigeon-toe Front pointing, keeping the feet perpendicular to the surface of the ke. If eatier to accomplish with monopointi. The tripod effect created between the monopoint and the second set of lorward-angled points an be more jtcbt» than a more standard deaHroatpoint configuration. (Photo: Ian Jomlinsoni

Pigeon-toe Front pointing, keeping the feet perpendicular to the surface of the ke. If eatier to accomplish with monopointi. The tripod effect created between the monopoint and the second set of lorward-angled points an be more jtcbt» than a more standard deaHroatpoint configuration. (Photo: Ian Jomlinsoni

high reach without the effort of hanging from a radically flexed bicep.

Always look for stemming possibilities that enable you to get the weight off your arms. Many times you can find a small bump of ice to rest on. Even on the steepest pillars you can do a frog rest, with your frontpoints together on the foothold and your knees splayed on either side of the pillar so that you are essentially sitting on your heels.

Waterfalls with multiple pillars, roofs, and other features often allow unusual rests. Never pass up an opportunity to take a break by assuming a chimney position in a groove or scumming a hip or shoulder behind an icicle. Knu locks can be achieved between a rock wall and a free-hanging curtain. Icicles can be straddled or encircled with arms or legs, and, if you have equipped your crampons with spurs, you can actually push yourself up the column. When a pillar has a very small diameter (two feet or less), it is necessary to crampon in a pigeon-toed fashion, ensuring that your frontpoints penetrate the ice perpendicular— horizontally and vertically—to the surface. For very technical waterfall ice climbs, spurs on the hee! clamps of your crampons will allow you to perform very effective hetl hooks on pillars, between icicles, and on roofs. Heel hooks are most often used to maintain balance in awkward situations, but occasionally can be useful in making upward progress.

Advantages of Monopoint Crampons

For several years I have chosen to use only monopoint crampons, which offer a number of advantages for waterfall ice climbing. With monopoints it is not crucial to keep your foot absolutely quiet after placing the frontpoint—-your heel can swivel and turn as needed to execute backsteps or drop-knee moves, high steps on narrow pillars with your foot directly in front of your waist, or rock-ons over roofs and around corners. You can slot the frontpoint between icicles or take advantage of a single air bubble in the ice. On thin ice you can frontpoint in the same hooking nicks you have carved for your picks, thus avoiding the possibility of breaking the ice. On dry rock, monopoints allow precise use of incredibly small holds, and your foot can swivel without the danger of one frontpoint levering the other frontpoint off the rock, as is the case with dual frontpoints, Monopoints slot readily into knifeblade and bugaboo cracks, and they torque well in baby-angle-size cracks. And surprisingly, if the geometry of the monopoint and secondary frontpoints is correct, monopoints are more stable on pure ice. This is because of the tripod effect created when you drop your heel and the first set of forward-angled points contacts the ice in addition to the monopoint.

Thin Ice Technique

Many climbs of class 6 and above are actually on very thin ice or mixed rock and ice. Thin ice can be durable and well adhered to the rock (such as verglas), or rotten and loosely anchored, or a solid sheet separated by some air space from the rock, or—worst of all—thin, rotten, and separated from the rock. Occasionally you may also encounter a thin-walled hollow tube of ice with water running inside. Thin ice must be treated gently.

If the ice is well bonded to the rock, gently chip small holds for your tools rather than trying to plant them with a forceful swing. Sometimes you will find a tiny air pocket that, with a light tap, will accept the pick and make a good placement. If the ice is less than vertical and you have modified the hooking angle of your pick sufficiently, you can simply scrape the pick down the ice until it begins to grab, then weight it some more to secure it. In all these cases, you must not apply any outward force on the shaft of your tools, but rather push directly down on your wrist loops, even as you move up. Crampons should

I mode the first ««Ml of a thin-ke route caSed Silver-tongued Devil in Vail. Hie lower portion consisted of steep, poorly bonded, and poorly protected climbing, requiring delicate pick and crampon placements, always pulling down on the shafts of the tods, never applying an outward force even as I moved up past them The ho ended in a moss garden under a rock roof near tke top. Slinging a rickety pilar with a double-length runner gave some protection as I made awkward moves up onto the moss, which provided shallow—but reasonably good—sticks for my tools The moves up under the roof were exceptionally awkward, especialy «nee the pick placements in the moss hod to be treated exactly the same as thin-ice placements, i.e., no outward pull on the shafts. (Photos: Brad Johnson)

Above: Extremely thin king vettkal well with smaR pillars is often best hooked in podiels el the side of the pillars and la locations where the ke Is well bonded to the lock. Gently dripping a held It al the Ice will alow.

Right; Unable to arrange acceptable protection hi the mess (I could only gel a hook-type pitoa partway in before El bottomed on rode), I down-climbed and placed a screw in the top of the pillar, increasing the slim possibility that h might hold o Ml by dtppfog a lead-limiting Screamer sting to it. With this protection I was able to climb back op and drive a kniiebMe pit on in the comer underneath the roof. With these throe pieces I felt safe in making the Sffkuh and awkward (M6+ or 7-} dry-tooBng moves up <md loft to the top el the (limb. Placing my own protection in the difficult situations oa Silver-tongued Devil added a dimension of psychological and physical chalenge that U lathing in the other bolt-protected climbs En Voil.

(Photos: Brni Johnson)

be placed in a similar gentle chipping manner, making several very light taps to chip small holds for your picks. Monopoints can be placed directly in the pick placements as you pass them.

On rotten, thin ice, your points will tend to slice through, so look for areas of greater density within the sheet of ice. Moving the pick just a few inches to one side or another will frequently yield a better hold. Occasionally you will have to continue pulling on your tool as it slices through the ice, hoping it will eventually grab something substantial enough to rely on. On such ice, it is often useful to attempt to climb on the underlying rock with your crampons; in other words, kick your points through the ice and scrape them down until you feel them hook on a rock hold, attempting to spread the weight between the ice and the purchase on the rock. Move smoothly in these conditions so as not to overstress any of your points of contact.

On thin, hollow sheets or tubes, stagger your tool and crampon placements one above the other to lessen the risk of fracturing the ice horizontally between two placements. Sometimes a thin, flat ice pillar on a steep rock wall will have small pockets behind it, which you can hook with your tools. These may provide the most security you can find. On this kind of ice an even better technique than chipping holds for your crampons is one 1 call pressing. Simply push your frontpoints into the ice and then, as you weight them (if they are sharp and your butt is well away from the ice), the points will penetrate Hollow ice can sometimes be quite easy to eiimb. You can punch right through the ice with your tools, forming handholds that can later be used for your feet. When these conditions prevail, the difficulty is more of a psychological nature—there may be a real risk of falling through into a hollow tube. A tool (or tools) with a downward-sloping adze gives you another option for climbing thin, rotten ice; the tool's larger surface area can resist the tendency to slice through the ice.

Thick but rotten ice is often easier to deal with using two long-shafted axes. These tools give more options for placements, and more force can be generated when they are swung to penetrate through surface layers. Rotten ice may be on the verge of collapsing, so beware.


Very few pure ice climbs reach this level of difficulty, On alpine ice you may find an extremely overhanging pitch on a serac or ice cliff that merits this rating. On water ice there are situations where a curtain of overlapping icicles has formed a long, steeply overhanging, difficult-to-protect stalactite, pillar, curtain, or wall that could potentially warrant the classification. Keep in mind that tools with classical curves lock into the ice when you pull out on the shafts, and therefore become more secure on extreme overhangs, in contrast, pulling out on the shafts of reverse-curve picks on such terrain tends to disengage the tools.

Backsteppmtj and IwrnoHf are two techniques that reduce the amount of strength required to reach high on overhanging terrain and plant your tools. On horizontal roofs of less than a body length, there are several choices for clearing the lip. In extreme cases, heel booking one of your tools can take some weight off your arms for a short rest. Stacking tools is often useful, and occasionally a figure 4 will allow a high reach to solid pick placement.

After making the high placement, a good way to clear the lip is to disentangle yourself from the figure 4, throw the foot opposite your high placement above the lip of the overhang, and plant the frontpoint, letting the other foot dangle for a minute as you roll up the arm that has the high placement. This creates a cross-body lock from which you can bring the dangling foot up in a quick movement, popping the frontpoint in above the lip. Then sit on that heel, flagging the other foot up and out for balance. From this position you can remove the lower tool and replace it higher, which establishes you above the roof. Call it the gorilla grunt! Text continues on page 16 7

A gymnastic sport-dtmNng technique that can be used for (fen ring overhangs is the figure 4, Getting into position is dffdadt as yoo must cross the opposite leg up and over the crook of year arm (Ulow left) then yoo hook your toe under the ice or against the rock, which allows yoa to lever your body into o high and stable position from whkh to swing your other tool (below tenter) Finally, stacking tools wSi let you pull over the roof (below right)... and squat on one frontpoinl, flagging the opposite fool high for balance (right), positioning yourself for climbing above the reef. In this case, you have made only four axe placements to clear the roof—a minimal number, fPhotos: Brad Johnson)

The gorilla grant Is a term I have coined to desa&e an efficient sequence of moves for dewing roofs. Hera (opposite page) I have my first goad pick placement m the In above the roof with my left tool «id I am preparing to book my right tool over the head at the left tool, thus avoiding the need la get a stick with the right tool and making the next placement much quicker, since I don't have to remove the toel from the ice fir»*----Turning my body Into my left arm shifts my right shoulder higher and allows me to gel a high slick with ny right tool wilhavt having to strenuously hold myself up by a crooked arm. I am also getting a heel-toe jam under the roof to take some weight off my mi and maximise the reach [above, lower left) Shifting to the right, I have reversed the move to replace my left toel higher (upper left). *.. Again reversing the move, 1 get a final high stick with my right tod. My left foot b flogged oat under the roof for balance (right]. (Photo: Brad Johnson)

Above: Hiere It now enough room for me to take a quick high step onto my right monopolnt. At this paint t can roll tnto my right arm again and place my left pkk higher (not shown]... which allows me to bring my left foot up to the lip of the roof, and I'm new ht a monkey hang, ready to continue above the roof. ¡Photos: Brad Johnson!

A sequence of movements 1 call the orangutan hang Is designed for climbing onto free-hanging curtains at ke from overhanging rock behind and spirating onto the front faces el the curtains so the climb cos be ennfinued. Opposite page: A backhand swing is necessary (below left) to get a first stick in the certain. (Pradke it in advance of using it on a climb.)... Your arm will be in a crucifixion position (below center) Then drop your feet from the rock, turn to face the curtain, plant your frontpoints high In the curtain and, with the tool that had been on the rock, get a high stick near the corner of the curtain (below right). Right: This allows you to pull around the comer and get a new slkk on the outer face of the curtain, in goad position to continue up the climb. (Phofos: Brad Johnson)

Above: As Ik rode climbing, ftog-ghtg one foot or the other off Is the side is o usoful technique for maintaining balance hi awkward situations.

Left; Heel ami toe hooks are a key to stabilizing yourself on pillars and in convoluted ice. Modifying your heel damp with the addition ol a one-inch bolt with rile and left sticking out makers beol hooking much more »cure. The baft may be slightly sharpened, but this is not redly necessary and cm» be a pain in the buttock when squatting on your heels to rest! Above: Stacking tools, one pick hooked over the other. Is quite often an ewfgy-javmg and useful technique.

(Photos: Brad Johnson)

Left; Heel ami toe hooks are a key to stabilizing yourself on pillars and in convoluted ice. Modifying your heel damp with the addition ol a one-inch bolt with rile and left sticking out makers beol hooking much more »cure. The baft may be slightly sharpened, but this is not redly necessary and cm» be a pain in the buttock when squatting on your heels to rest! Above: Stacking tools, one pick hooked over the other. Is quite often an ewfgy-javmg and useful technique.

(Photos: Brad Johnson)

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