Poudre Canyon Ice is in!

The Chimney Dribble

The Chimney Dribble

Reading Justin Harkins blog gets me psyched on ice. I’m always hatching plans to move up to Bozeman or down to Ouray for a full season of endless water ice pitches. There’s not much ice around Fort Collins, there’s some up the Big Thompson , and plenty of ice up in the Park (Patagonia Training Center) – but trips up there can hardly be considered for “cragging” and I’ve ended up just “taking the tools for a walk” a few too many times already this season.

Isn’t there any ice closer to home?

Driving up Poudre Canyon, going for trail-runs up different gulches, I’m always searching for ribbons of ice, or where I think they might form. Right now I know of four climbs that are “in” up the canyon. Most, if not all of them are very small and require long approaches that in my (lazy) opinion aren’t worth the effort. I do have hope for one little mixed climb I’ve been eyeing from the road. The approach is easy – park car, walk across frozen river, scramble up scree for about thirty feet – There’s a thin line of ice gracing a wide and loose chimney. I’m guessing about fifty feet or so of WI3+/M2 terrain.

On Saturday I went up there to check it out. It looks pretty intimidating from the road but in reality it’s quite tame. Currently the ice only graces the steep left wall of the chimney but you could still scramble up loose and rotten fourth class terrain on the right wall and you’d have to go out of your way to even touch the ice, so it seems a little contrived. If the ice gets a little thicker though, it has potential to be a fun and worthwhile climb. I’ll keep an eye on it… So Poudre Canyon does offer some ice… but it’s not exactly Hyalite Canyon.

Looking up the chimney.

Looking up the chimney.

The Tunnel Ice offers some quality bouldering at the moment.

The Tunnel Ice offers some quality bouldering at the moment.

On another note, I just finished reading the new issue of Alpinist. I’m something of a literary nerd and don’t often read climbing or ski oriented magazines. One exception is Alpinist Magazine. I was fortunate enough to start reading the “old” Alpinists years back and was pretty bummed when the magazine folded early last year.

When Alpinist was resurrected under new ownership and staff (including Editor Michael Kennedy – former publisher of Climbing Magazine) I was excited and hopeful. Right off the bat Kennedy made it clear that changes were to occur, especially in the magazine’s formatting, but overall its spirit would remain the same.

Three issues of the “new” Alpinist have been published and in my opinion the most recent, issue # 29 is the best yet, rivaling any of the old issues. Check out an intimate photo essay by Andrew Querner, a touching account of climbing, love, and loss by Jens Holsten, and a vivid portrait of Mt. Robson by Barry Blanchard. Climbing literature at its finest! Reading about spindrift, icefall, and frigid bivies is made all the more enjoyable when at home, curled up by the fire, sipping a frosty alcoholic beverage.

A planned trip down to Ouray got canceled, but hopefully I’ll get to head down that way next week and get some good skiing and climbing in. My classes begin January 20th, so I’m determined to get as much action in before then. I hope everyone is getting out and having fun.

Kevin L

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