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Trip Report: Hyalite Canyon

Trip Report: Hyalite Canyon

Trip Report: Hyalite Canyon

--When, Where, Conditions--
When: January 3 - 12 2015
Where: Hyalite Canyon - Bozeman MT
Conditions: Awesome. Super fat ice!
Duration: 8 days

--Helpful Info--
Difficulty: WI2 to WI 5 ice climbing.

The Report

Hyalite Canyon - Best Ice EVER!!!

The ice was in! I had been watching the weather for weeks monitoring the temperatures almost hourly. This would be mine and Rick’s third trip to the mecca of ice climbing in the lower 48 states. Hyalite Canyon near Bozeman Montana is one of the best locations for ice that is consistently of good quality, of the wild variety, and easy to get to. There are other places to go and I hope to get to them someday, but I know that if I go to Hyalite I am going to get a lot of ice and I will be sufficiently challenged.

Rick and I got the Window Rock cabin right in Hyalite Canyon so we would not have to drive in and out of the canyon. At $30 a night the deal can’t be beat. It’s got a cook stove and a supply of wood. No running water is available, but there is a vault toilet. Kinda roughing it, but not really. The cabin sits about a ¼ mile from the road. So it requires a little work to get your stuff in there. We brought a kids toboggan sled to ferry stuff in and out.

Our drive out to Bozeman was uneventful. After 12 hours of driving we arrived. Got in early enough to make dinner and get to sleep early. We were going to get started early. We had a lot of ice to climb.

Our first day we climbed just to warm up. We play our game like this. Each day one of us takes the first lead of the day. Then the next day we switch. So everyday one of us starts out cold and the other guy gets to warm up on top rope. It makes for a fun way to keep it interesting. I took the first lead for this trip.

I always count screws placed on lead. I figure we are practicing and we have a lot of ice screws. I want to be really good at placing them on lead. my personal goal is to lead WI5 ice. You have got to be good, fast, and efficient. Then climb with confidence to be able to pull off a WI5 ice grade climb. The definition is: WI5 - near-vertical or vertical steps of up to 20 metres, sustained climbing requiring placing multiple protection screws from strenuous stances with few good rests.

Hyalite Canyon

This is the screw count and the climbs we did on this trip. 

Day 1: Scott: 13 screws led Switchback and Fat Chance. Cleaned Switchback and pink point Thin Chance. Rick: 8 screws Led Fat Chance and Thin Chance Pink point Switchback.

Day 2: Rick: 4 screws Rick led Dribbles p1 and p2 as one pitch. Scott: 10 screws Scott led Dibbles headwall in one 75m pitch to the rap tree.

Day 3: Rest Day.

Day 4: Scott: 9 screws Scott led Elevator Shaft Then top roped 3 variations and cleaned the anchor. Rick: 7 screws Rick led Elevator Shaft Top roped 2 variations

Day 5: Rick: 5 Screws Rick led Hang Over. Scott: 14 screws. Scott led Hang Over and G2 direct Scott top roped G2 left side.

Day 6: Met Dustin, Nick, and Matt. Scott: 9 screws. Scott led Mummy. Rick: 2 Rick followed and cleaned. Scott and Rick top roped The Scepter.

Day 7: Rick: 10 screws Rick led Champagne Sherbert. Scott: 10 screws Scott led Champagne Slot

Day 8: Got skunked. Palisade Falls was collapsed. Went looking for Alpha and Omega. Got lost. Ended up on main road. Joe Josephson, the author of the guide book Winter Dance, recognized me by my hat, stopped and gave us a ride to our car.

Total this trip. Scott 8 leads Rick 6 leads 65 screws placed on lead for Scott to 34 for Rick. Hiked about 25 to 30 miles to get to all the climbs.

The best climb of the whole trip was Dribbles. It went like this. We had to break trail in neck deep drifted snow up hill, just to get to the base. Rick was so pissed off. He melted down and threatened to turn around. I took over breaking trail and screamed "YOU ...GOT ...TO ...REALLY ....WANT IT"!!!!, as I beat at the snow over my head. I pushed my way forward. I almost needed a snorkel. Rick took over again breaking trail as I was too short to make much progress.

Hyalite Canyon

His lead first. I got the crux on the Headwall. He stole my pitch by linking the first two. I didn't think I had it in me. But banged out the headwall in style. It went at WI4. Hard but not too hard. Then I caught my breath and broke thru another drift of deep snow. I hoped it wouldn't slide out from underneath me. I was ready to self arrest at any moment. I sucked it up screamed "William Wallace"!!! At the top of my lungs and knocked out the final WI3 finish.

We were using an 80 meter rope to climb with. Ricks lead was all of the 80 meter rope as he linked pitch one and two. I linked pitches three and four. My lead was nearly 75 meters or nearly 250 feet. I was so tired at the top of the climb I was glad it was over. I led it in style. Ricks lead was awesome too as he was able to do it in about 20 minutes. My lead took about an hour.

We had a good trip. Kept it mostly reasonable and loved every minute of it.

Hyalite Canyon
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