Monday, December 10, 2012

Hyalite choss scratching

Hyalite Canyon has been good this year and I've had a few great opportunities the past month.  I had the chance to help with Sherpas Cinemas film Conrad Anker and Kris Erickson climbing a Hyalite test piece ice climb (Winter Dance).  I was the mule and hauled camera equipment to the top of the climb and then did a bit of rope rigging.  It was a learning experience for me in many ways.

Conrad on Winter Dance

 Looking down Winter Dance

The Chopper filming- the film is going to be awesome!

 I also got out with a few friends to do some Hyalite mixed climbing.  We have been working "northwest passage" (M11).  I came very close to climbing it on my third burn so I'm feeling confident that I can get it done this season (in between my student teaching semester in a middle school science classroom).

Kyle vassilopoulos climbing "Panama Canal" M8, "Northwest passage" climbs out the roof to the right of the hanging ice dagger.

Myself red-pointing the techy "Panama Canal" M8.

Rusty Willis on "Northwest Passage" M11.

Cheer, Loren

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cottonwood Towers


While trail running with Bridget last spring up South Cottonwood Creek, near Bozeman, we ran past what appeared to be limestone spires sticking out from a thick mat of pine trees.  I logged the location of these spires away in my memory, for a rainy day activity, and kept on running behind Bridget with a pounding side ache. 

Nearly a year later we were back, we left the ice gear at home and loaded a pack with rock gear.  We hiked up the south cottonwood trail in perfect fall weather to the third bridge crossing (2.5 miles).  From here we walked up the trail another 5 minutes until the spires could be seen on the other side of the creek.  We crossed the creek, hiked to the base of the spires and looked up at limestone choss in all its glory.  As an inspired choss tower connosure I can not pass up unclimbed towers so we tied in.

The first view of the cottonwood towers from the trail - "The Ancient Fart Tower" on the right and the "Choss Wrangler Tower" on the left.

The spires turned out to be really cool.  They are overhung, really narrow, and tilt out in strange angles.  There is a notch that separates the two towers on the spires' back (west) side that has a wide crack.  I started up this loose crack that lead to the notch that protected well with cams to a #4.  From here I went up the climbers left tower and found some protection with two ice specters pounded into turfed-up cracks.  I mantled the tiny summit that is reminascent of the 'ancient art of the desert tower' in Utah.  It really is the ghetto version of that tower- thus we named it the "Ancient Fart Tower". 

The ancient fart tower- the route goes up the arete in the center.

Myself heading up the "ancient fart" tower

Bridget rappelling off of the ancient fart tower- we ended up slinging the entire summit with cord as an anchor.

After climbing the ancient fart tower we decided to climb the other tower that is attached.  We started up the same wide crack that gained the notch between the two towers then climbed up climbers right on the exposed ridge to the other virgin summit.  

Bridget heading up the "choss wrangler" tower with the "ancient fart" tower in the background.

Bridget on the summit of the "Choss Wrangler" tower.

Required gear for the cottonwood towers.

We placed a single bolt on top of the choss wrangler tower in good rock as there was no other option for a rappell anchor.  Both these towers deserve a special rating- a choss rating- to mentally prepare for the climbing.  They both get a Choss 5.7 rating, bring some pitons/ice specters. These towers are chossy as hell, but also good fun and a cheap reminder that climbing inadequate rocks is best approached with humor and zest.

Cheers, Loren


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spire Completion, Butte Bouldering Bash, and the First Ice of the Season

Spire Climbing Center Grand re-Opening!

We completed the remodel of Spire Climbing Center in Bozeman this fall.  We had a grand reopening of the gym complete with a ribbon-cutting from 30 feet in the air!  It was great for me to be a part of this remodel project, and it feels good to see the gym in all its glory and people having fun climbing on it!
Here are some pictures I took throughout the summer as we made progress on the gym.

Jeff Ho cutting the ribbon on the Grand Reopening night with a sweet dyno from the roof.

Climbers on the new wall on opening night!  (props to the route setters)


Fall time in the mountains of Montana

Bridget and I tried finding some ice a few weekends ago to climb.  We wanted to go rock climbing but the weather had other plans as it snowed around 20 inches.  We basicly stumbled over slick, snow covered rock looking for ice.  We found a little ice to climb and a loose gully that was around M4 (short section).  We ended the weekend by bouldering on the perfect granite boulders in the Rock Creek Drainage.

Truck camping breakfast of champions

The best part was bouldering in the sun with crisp temps.

Bridget sending a John Gill problem near the road


 The Butte Bouldering Bash also occured last weekend.  I love going to this low key event (where dogs almost out number the climbers!).  This year the event was held at a new sector of boulders (the Trailer Boulders).  Rusty Willis and I manned the Sportiva booth and went bouldering throughout the day.  The new area is sweet, with high quality problems of all grades.

Good temps

good food and fun crowd

Rusty Willis sending a cobble arete

Keeping warm in the Sportiva booth.  Photo by Thomas Kingsbury

Cheers, Loren

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The SW Buttress of the Bear's Face

The SW buttress is the right skyline.
Bridget and I had a fairly successful time in the East Rosebud this last week.  We climbed the SW buttress of the wall above Elk Lake (its been climbed prior).  We managed to make a mostly free ascent of the upper headwall-  I pulled on a cam on a friction traverse (The original rating is 5.9 A2, and Daniel Burson and Ari Greenburg made a free ascent of the buttress a few years ago at 5.11) and we topped the monolith out around 1 in the afternoon.  The unsuccessful portion of the climb was the descent.  We totally went down the wrong gully (the gully below the first wall).  It was the most chossy place I have ever been (and that's saying something).  It was a place you didn't want to linger in as it funnels rocks from high above and they come exploding past like bullets and missles.  It was like a game of Russian Roulete in there, you knever knew if the next rappel had your name on it, and pulling the ropes caused a whole new barrage of rockfall.  The gully was pooring water and we were soaked, leaving nuts and slinging blocks for anchors.  Five hours later we stumbed out into the evenging light at five mile creek happy to be alive.  Aside from the descent the climbing was great and, as always, the scenery was amazing - just never descend down that gully!

Bridget on the headwall

Bridget knocking a big block off the headwall

 Myself climbing steep corners on the upper headwall

The top out

The descent

The rope didn't handle the descent well either

Cheers, Loren

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sunlight Buttress

"The Wet Whitey-Tighty Contest" 5.11. 

A terrible (and awesome) route name I know.... let me explain.

This past winter Kevin Volkening and I went exploring a cool place for some ice to climb.  Well, we didn't find any ice but we did "discover" (I found an arrow head at the base of the wall, which means the wall was probably discovered a few thousand years ago) a beautiful wall of gneiss.  While exploring the cliff we were forced to cross the creek below it - in winter - in our underwear (or lack of...) a seriously cold endevor...

...that's how this route got it's name.

Kevin crossing the creek

Bridget, Scott "Sandbaggin" Salzer, and I headed to the cliff this past Labor day weekend to check the rock out.  Here's what we found:

Myself on the first pitch (The Fruit of the Loom Pitch) in survivor mode.  The perfect 2" hand crack in the back was protected by a wasp nest and a huge spider, both of which I had to climb around to get to the top. 

Bridget on the first ascent of the second pitch (The Atomic Wedgie Pitch) - oh so good!!

Looking down the "atomic Wedgie Pitch" in awe!

Scott following "the atomic wedgie pitch"

The next day we rappelled the cliff looking for a way to link the route together

We linked the route together by climbing the pitches ground up after inspection from above.  We ended up placing a couple bolts in blank sections (i.e. one 60m pitch has 3 bolts)

Bridget following "The Fruit of the Loom Pitch" on the free push.
 On Labor day we climbed the route ground up all free at solid 5.11.

And we were watched the entire time by the worlds boldest climber... no pressure.

Scott on pitch 4 "The Bannana Hammock pitch" - bring very small gear for this one to supplement a couple of bolts.

Bridget on the 3rd pitch "The skid marks pitch".  Bring a clean pair of underwear for this pitch as it is insecure. (the white scars on the slab below are from cleaning the route, there still may be a few loose blocks on route- bring a helmet).

Route cleaning

We bolted every anchor on the route and the route can be rappelled with 2, 60M ropes (3 rappells total)from anchors that have bones tied to them (recommended as you approach from above).

If you want beta for this route let me know, I'd be psyched!

Cheers, Loren