WHAT WOULD ALEX LOWE HAVE DONE?
As the solstice is here and the ice season is now in full swing I can't help but think about a guy I climbed with for the last time about ten years ago. He was just coming off knee surgery and was like a caged tiger. He couldn't wait to get back on the ice. He literally almost ran down the trail. We carried on a conversation but I was nearly ten yards behind him the whole time until we got to the base of the climb. His passion for climbing just oozed from him. So now, many years later, I'm shopping ice climbing guides again thinking of routes to do this winter and one climb always stands out. No, not Winter Dance, although Kris and Whit deserve the highest praise for freeing the route. In my opinion they put the exclamation mark on the sentence that reads Hyalite Canyon is now a world class ice climbing venue. Nor do many of the other high quality routes in Hyalite really catch my eye. The route that always intrigues me is a bit of an obscure one far from Hyalite. Cedar Mountain Falls is in the Madison Range and I've never heard anyone claim it's a classic. In actuality, I don't even know that much about it. But what always amazes me is that Alex Lowe skied 16-20 miles roundtrip by himself to do its' first ascent. I never asked Alex about it either but I'm guessing he probably didn't know what kind of climb it'd be - maybe he didn't even know if there'd be ice up the drainage for that matter. But the point is he was out looking and searching. Sure Alex did numerous routes up Hyalite and other places where access was relatively easy even back in the old days when one would have to ski in from the dam. But the fact remains that he was also willing to go a little further you might say. So now when I see the crowds of folks up Hyalite many who are itching to do a first ascent I can't help but think what would Alex have done? I imagine there still might be some amazing lines to do up Hyalite that nobody has spied yet. But I also wonder if there's not some incredible routes to be done in more remote places. Of course there's no guarantee what you'll find or how hard the routes might be when you go looking. Like Alex you might find something like Cedar Mountain Falls which may or may not be a classic. But isn't at least half the fun just searching not knowing what you'll find?