Thursday, January 29, 2015

Early Season Ice Review

Ice and snow this past November and December was very hard to find. My winter season started at the end of Kaunertal in western Tyrol.  i climbed and skied the north face of the WeiƟseespitze with a couple of friends.
The cold, snowy face of the WeiƟseespitze
In December, everyone was complaining about the lack of snow and ice. I went up to check out some features that I sensed held ice on the north east face of the Berchtesgadner Hochthon on the Untersberg near Salzburg. Found a nice coulior with easy ice. It also laid the foundation for an wonderful alpine climb that I could pull off last week (January 21, 2015).
Easy first ascent on Salzburg's home mountain
The day after Christmas (still no snow yet), Jennifer and I went to the Gastein valley and into the Anlauftal. Walking up the steep boulder and scree drainage, Jennifer was on a treasure hunt, uncovering lost ice climber's booty from last season
"Look what I found, think it'll work?"
The moderate ice fall "Federweis" was in pretty good shape and a nice climb of three to four pitches.
The best ice in Anlauftal on December 26th
Right of "Federweis", the impressive "Mordor" stood in in good form with thin ice on the first two easy warm up pitches. It was interesting to see the bordering climbs of "Supervisor", "Seidenrampe", Rodeo", etc., bare of the surrounding snow.

Some of Austria's most impressive ice climbs

The first significant snow fell in the north-east Alps on December 26th. A lot more snow and cold temperatures arrived (finally) on the 29th of December. As i write this at the end of January 2015, winter has fully hit the area and there is plenty of fresh powder with decent ice in the classic Salzburg area ice climbing venues. However, the lower valley ice has still not come in, and may not this season as was the same with last year.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year's 2015 in Cogne - short ice report

I was in Cogne for New Year's Eve and did some ice climbing with my wife. We were there from 30. December 2014 until 4. January 2015. The overall situation was typical early season ice: some things are not formed yet, ice is thin, and the climbs are harder than the grades.

What follows is a short overview:

Lillaz

Cascade di Lillaz - forming well, but too much water flow. The steep, short practice lines before the main fall are formed with possible top ropes from above. Also the easy gulley to the left of the main fall is well formed and not running with water.

Tutto Relativo - good, pillar not formed on crux pitch but possible with a few easy mixed moves on left, upper ice good

Pattigagio Artistico - very good

Hard Ice in the Rock - very good

Pattagagio & Hard Ice are reached with the standard traverse, the lower columns are of course not formed. There was a team that did the mixed variation on Pattagagio

Stella Artice is not fully formed

Cold Coulior - a bit harder than the grade and run out on the third pitch due to thin ice and a delicate exit. It is fun to climb with more features than when fully formed, upper ice is good

Tuborg is possible but the curtain is not fully formed all the way across and a small pillar touches down on the left

Candelera del Cayote has been climbed a lot but is perhaps a half-grade harder

Valnontey
Lauson - very featured and wet. Climbable when cold and best on an overcast day

Thoule - protected from direct sun, but still pretty wet later in the day. Overall very good shape

Patri - in the best shape of all the ice in Valnontey, and therefore the unthinking masses are lined up 10 deep .....

Repentance - has been climbed and is in good, but early season, conditions

Monday Money - first pitch is mixed and the rest is good ice, but also like Repentance in early season conditions

There is very little snow in the valleys. Approach skis or snow shoes are not needed. Temperatures have been pretty good (http://www.yr.no/place/Italy/Aosta_Valley/Cogne/long.html) with well below freezing at night and generally clear skies. There has been very little to no precipitation & temps are at about -10 to +4 degrees.