Winter Dance - Big Sleep link up
I truly do not believe there is a more aesthetic, inspiring line than our own Winter Dance. Whit and I along with JT and Gilbert went there yesterday with Whit and I having intentions to climb while JT and Gilbert took photos. What followed was a day for the ages.
Winter Dance as a route right now is superb! The first pitch is excellent M4 mixed climbing to the belay. Of course the second pith is the M8 bolt ladder that is a first rate dry tooling pitch with solid but sustained hooking in a steep, fantastic setting. One can easily aid through the difficulties to gain the second belay before traversing to the ice. Some mandatory climbing is required but nothing too crazy. The third pitch begins with a traverse to the low ice blob which is tricky but not too difficult. The fixed specter is the only pro but once on the ice things are very secure. The climbing continues up the first blob to he fat ice ledge and then continues up to the right, not the traditional way, through a little sneak and up the right side of the second pillar to gain the ice cave and the third belay. This pitch as well as the second belay were extremely wet so bring an umbrella and gore-tex. The third pitch after the traverse protects really well with screws and is done all on ice. The last pitch is a stunning vertical head wall of thunker ice. Superb in every way. Belay from the tree at the top.
After Whit and I topped out on WD at 1pm with no falls by either the leader of follower, we made the decision to keep rallying and try and complete a link up that has been driving Whit for over two years. So we continued! From the top of the climb we broke trail in Waste deep snow for an hour to the ridge line where we left Gilbert and JT and made a push all the way across to the drop in gully of the Big Sleep. We reconed this four days ago with our Big Sleep climb so had things ready when this link up was to materialize. And materialize it did! We began rappelling down the Sleep at 330 and began our upward climb by 4:15. Whit quickly dispatched the first two pitches and I followed quickly and then blasted off into the crux ice pitch. I was relieved to see it had been climbed earlier that day so my wasted arms and mind didn't have to work quite so hard. Once up that pitch light was beginning to fade and Whit made a great ascent of the last pitch which is steep, demanding and funky. I met Whit at the top right as the light turned itself off and we celebrated our crazy link up with frazzled looks and a big hug. We descended quickly and met JT and Gilbert who had collected our things from WD and then drove the car around to pick us up. Those two worked as hard as Whit and I. Thanks a million you guys!