Thursday, March 24, 2016

Gimme Shelter-Canadian Rockies

Dave's and my annual trip to Canada.  Each March for the last few seasons, we head up for some warm weather, big sun and plastic ice-Paradise-

This trip was open ended, with a week and a half scheduled that turned into two via a high pressure system rolling into town for the last few days.  Couldn't drive home early!

Tick list via each day
1-25 hour drive straight to the Ghost from Wisconsin
2-Wicked Wanda
3-The Real Big Drip
4-Rest Day
5-Johnson Canyon
6-Lower and Upper Weeping Wall (6 hrs RT)
7-Pilsner Pillar
   Last Call
   Carlsberg Column
   Cascade Kronenbourg
8-Rest Day
9-Monsieur Hulot (17 hrs RT)
10-Rest Day
11-Super Bock
12-Ski Approach to Consolation Lakes
13-Gimme Shelter (~8 hrs on route) and ski to car (~36 hrs RT)
14-Drive home

After every big route, we wanted MORE!  After Gimme, we were done.  It was time to go home.

The 13 mile or so ski in took about 5 hrs.  Not bad.  We scoped the route and put in a track to follow to the base of the route that evening as well before dinner. The am came early, up at 5am to -19C. Perfect temps for the objective hazards of the route.   We got to the base of the route and racked up, no sign of anything falling down, and only a few point release slides via solar triggers.

I lead the first pitch.  Thin ice, shitty ice when thicker.  Went at 4+ unto the large snow bench.  A full 70 meters to the belay. Dave took the second pitch.  A Full 70 meters out (we brought 15 screws) to a three piece belay (Dave never makes three piece belays on ice).  Seconding the pitch, removing 1/2 of his screws that were crap, the other 1/2 good.  The climbing was hard.  Vertical and shitty ice.

Getting to that belay "I will follow you up all the way, but I am not going to lead this shit and am ready to get back to WI now"  Dave's reply "WE are going UP!"
Damn that man has got it!

Dave lead the next 4 pitches.  Some easier, some harder.  The crux for us came at Pitch # 5.  We graded it WI7.  Not a number I have ever used in my past before, nor Dave.  But I can say it with a straight face.

Down the route via 5 raps on threads to the ground.  Back at the tent before dark and out to the car by 1 am.  A local hardman, and an ex local hardman both think about a dozen people have finished this route.  Fuckin impressive to them all.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Dancing on ice in our northern neighbors' back yard

Another fantastic trip to Canada with Dave Rone for SPRING BREAK 2015!!!!!  We landed in Calgary late Friday night, departed the 2nd Sunday after for 8 possible climbing days.
We managed some excellent climbing, one link up of two large ice routes and a bit of rock climbing on an "active rest day" just outside of Canmore.

The tick list (with the grades we found them in 'ish);
     Rhamnusia: M8 WI6 160m  (Dave led to the top of the mixed only)
     French Reality: M7++ WI6 145m
     Link up of Hydrophobia WI5+ 160m and The Sorcerer WI5 210m
     Sport climbing in Cougar creek up to 10c
     Nemesis: WI5+ 140m
     Man Yoga: First two real pitches: M7 & M7
     -Final climbing day...I left my boots at the hotel...learned this after the two hour drive to the base of  This House of Sky-WI4 500m in the Ghost...needless to say, we didn't climb...DANG!

Below are a few pics from the trip;

first 2 pitches of Rhamnusia

M8 3rd pitch

base of French Reality

 2ed pitch of French

traveling in style in the Ghost Wilderness

The Sorcerer

finally above the coulds

a foreshortened Hydrophobia

sport climbing on an ice trip?!?!

back to the headwall for day #3 up there!

1st pitch of Nemesis 

2nd pitch

2nd pitch of Man Yoga

driving home from the Ghost after I forgot my boots...

Thursday, March 5, 2015


I could barely look out to the horizon.  My eyes were watering and my hands quickly turning numb.  One brief shallow look into Sam’s eyes and we both wanted to bail.  He was 51% ready to pull the plug. I was a bit higher on the same scale.  The fetch was as far as one could see, the frozen lake was white, not deep blue like the other 6 months of the year. 

Today was the day. The next two were scheduled to be colder and windier; we only had three.  Still, I wanted to bail. Sam asked If I wanted to go first, I asked him the same. He decided to go first into a place where he had never been before, a rope length down to the shove ice below.

It took us three hours to get there that morning, the thermometer in the car reading well below zero when we started, but the ski in kept us warm.  There was no wind in the trees, the thick Michigan forest keeping it at bay. It was a different scene at the edge of the cliff.  Crumbly sandstone with drips of yellow ice from the left to the right, but we came for only one.

Sam tied in, I lowered him down to see if the route would even go.  It would, and the wind was shallow at the bottom.  Sam’s eyes opened, and we both took a deeper look. He took a chance and decided to take advantage of the moment.  He racked up, we rappelled to the lake ice and pulled the ropes.

Puff pants, double-puff upper, heavy belay gloves, double boots, and I still wanted to keep moving. Sam lead up through wet ice the first 10 meters; weird. Above was hard, brittle, old yellow stained ice that the lakeshore is known for.  Easier vertical climbing in the middle lead to harder above. 

The crux was pulling up vertical ice on an attached curtain fracturing away with every swing.  The screws went in with an extra force of the hand, a few picks got held up in the old dense ice but the curtain was ascended, screws almost every body length for the 10 meter crux before easier ground above.

One last stubby while still in view before the run-out sandstone ramp above.  Sam was soon back to the safety and security of the forest on the edge, and back in the howling winter wind.

I followed, pulled the final few screws by headlamp with the puffy gear in the pack.  A warm fire in the woods to thaw the hands, refresh the mind, and began the journey back home to civilization and cell service.

All Photos-Mike Wilkinson - #michiganicefilm-

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Feb 7 2015-Saturday Night-Michigan Ice Fest-Teaser Release 
Film release Feb 2016

Monday, December 1, 2014

14/15 ice season starter

 It was a cold weekend up in Nipigon Canada...

Liz and I spent Thursday a.m. in Duluth climbing with Adam at Casket Quarry. After Thanksgiving dinner with Adam's family, we drove north to the metropolis of Nipigon that evening to settle in at the Beaver Motel for the weekend.  We climbed Remember the Day, Ranxerox Tangent, and Tears of Joy for our first day out on Friday.  It was cold and the ice was very brittle. Very brittle.  Saturday brought us back to the Ice Palace to attempt Eveil Des Sens (too wet) and then Off the Couch (too weak) so we bailed without Liz swinging a tool for the a.m.  We drove to the end of the corridor and hopped on an easy condition Andromeda Weeps where I proceeded to leave my tools on the top of the climb after rappelling down.  Liz went back up to get them for her second lap. Then we ran back to the car to get one more climb in for the day, as I like to say a "bonus" route to get in before dark.

We were going to get on Obsession, but decided to head over to Cascade instead as the darkness was coming fast. We climbed the right side of Cascade, with Liz finishing in the dark.  Sunday brought us out early for another route before heading home.  We both got up a dripping Obsession before returning to the car, frozen and bailing on another "bonus" climb. Started the drive south instead; dinner in Duluth, Madison at 11pm.

Liz on Tears of Joy

Liz topping out on Andromeda Weeps

My high point on Eveil.  It was the first climb of Saturday and I wasn't committed to getting soaked

Liz topping out on Cascade in the dark

Liz finishing Obsession

Carter and Co. on Cascade.  Note Carter climbing in his parka...

And...the new bridge over the Nipigon River is being built...state-of-the-art.  Very cool to see Hwy 11 transform into a super highway of the future. 

Best part of the trip, MOM's COOKIES!!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Stool Pigeon pics

Top two from Doug Hemken
Bottom from Caliebe

Monday, October 13, 2014

Thursday Night
Memorial Union.

B there.  Slideshow.  Popcorn?!?!