On my way back from leading a trip up Independence Tower I decided to stop in Lake City and see how the ice conditions are. There was a lot less moisture than I expected but there is still ice forming and I expect the snowy cold weather this week will help. Overall the report is positive. There is a lot of ice forming in the various gullies and with some colder weather and more moisture things will become climbable in the next couple of weeks. We'll start operating ice climbing trips and classes so give us a call if you want a tour of the area.
First I drove up to the Grizzly/Silver Creek trailhead that night and watched the thermostat drop to just around freezing. When I woke up in the morning though it read 20, should of brought a puffier puffy!
So after a quick hike to see how much snow was loading the north bowl between Sunshine and Redcloud (not much) I walked back to the car to see what was forming along the road. The two steppy, unnamed gullies by mile marker 16 were too thin to be climbable so I continued down the road to Cataract Gulch.
After crossing over the bridge I saw these huge facets on the surface of the snow, only a couple of inches but this is what the entire snowpack will be sitting on. Most of the snow I found was faceted. Something to keep in mind when you're heading to things like the Sherman Route in mid-winter or walking around under some of those gullies along the roads.
Farther up the trail there is some smears of ice here and there. Everything is just forming and some more moisture and colder temps will get us there. Chockstone, Fight Club, not in. There's a lot of moisture though so the temperature drop will definitely help.
After walking down I headed over to the Sherman Route which looked to be in when I was driving down from the Grizzly/Silver Creek trailhead. As I got to the base I noticed a couple people climbing, turned out to be a group of 4! I didn't hang out to see if they went all the way up. Hopefully not. The crux pillar does not appear to be well formed, more like 5/5+ conditions. From the sound of the people climbing it didn't sound very thick either.
Since there were people climbing I decided to head up Cottonwood Creek all the way to Cuba Gulch. The Cotton Climbs are also thin. Some parts climbable, some parts a little delicate yet to be climbing.
I saw a reasonable amount of moisture on the south facing aspects despite a lack of snow. There was flowing water on Sunshine Falls and the flow to the west up the road. Even a couple chunks of ice thanks to the cold nights Way back by Cuba Gulch things like Cuba Libre and Havana Nights had wet dripping rock. Even with the cold weather those, as usual, will take some time to build up.
That's all for now. The calendar is filling up fast so send us a message to get your climbing trip set up!