What up all. I thought I would post a TR for the masses to enjoy. My new friend Nick Spang [who comes by way of Seattle] and I went out to Finley Creek for a few pitches of WI 3/4 and my first true multi-pitch water-ice lead. I've been climbing ice a bunch this winter, though mostly on TR. It gave me a good chance to learn good technique and practice swinging my tools. Mike Madison put up anchors on a top-rope route called "the thing in between" that goes at WI 2 or 3 last year and since then I've climbed it at least 15 times. The week before we climbed graineater I managed to crash my car on the icy road up to the trailhead and still haven't fixed it. We still managed to get a full day's worth of climbing in though. The approach to graineater is short, probably a mile and a half, with no exposure and limited uphill walking. This makes finley a great place to go for a half-day, since it's only about 25 miles from my house. Graineater is to the west of The Thing by a few hundred yards. It has a bolted anchor at the top of the first pitch, with a nice cave to keep the belayer out of the way of icefall. The top has a well-made sling anchor that utilizes two medium-sized trees. The elevation is probably around 5500 feet. The worst part about the trip was that one of my ice axes was loose! The pick was actually coming detached from the handle and wobbled every time I weighted it. I didn't bring a wrench, so I just kept checking the bolt to make sure it wasn't going to totally come apart. It lasted fine, but it was a bit unnerving. Although I made some leashes for my tools, by the time I was up 30 feet I went leashless since it was almost impossible to put in a screw while my hand was stuck to the ice ax. Here's a shot of Nick at the car: [img]http://www.forward-motion.org/finley/atthecarnick.jpg[/img] and me starting the approach: [img]http://www.forward-motion.org/finley/approach.jpg[/img] here's a photo of graineater on the right and weedeater on the left, i think: [img]http://www.forward-motion.org/finley/big.jpg[/img] at the base of the climb we ran into my friends ben and sam; missoula is a small town: [img]http://www.forward-motion.org/finley/friends.jpg[/img] climbing up the first pitch, notice the runout! it was only like 70-80 deg WI2. Overall, this route was like two full rope lengths and I only placed 7 screws total. 4 on the first pitch, and 3 on the second. I think I have to work on that a little, but I didn't really feel too runout. It was easy-going on solid ice: [img]http://www.forward-motion.org/finley/runout.jpg[/img] here's a shot of nick from the inside of the cave at the top of pitch one. This is one of the coolest belays I've ever done. so pretty and really neat spot: [img]http://www.forward-motion.org/finley/cavenick.jpg[/img] I led pitch 2 as well. This was a scary start since it climbed out of the cave and went vertical right away. The fall would've been a factor 2 with a bad landing. I hung out on the apron long enough to put in a decent screw and then got the hellll outta there: [img]http://www.forward-motion.org/finley/pitch2.jpg[/img] and the double-rope rap off the top [though it can be climbed with one rope and two raps, we didn't know that and brought doubles.]: [img]http://www.forward-motion.org/finley/rappel.jpg[/img] ....and just for fun, afterwards we climbed mule palace on TR. This is my winter project and goes at M7. I haven't tried it on lead yet, but I've got it pretty wired on top-rope. Perhaps next year it'll go on lead: [img]http://www.forward-motion.org/finley/mule.jpg[/img] the view on the way back to the car, with squaw peak in the background: [img]http://www.forward-motion.org/finley/sunset.jpg[/img] Overall, it was an epic day with great company, finished up with a burger and a beer at the Old Post which is only 2 blocks from my house. I'm slowly-but-surely earning my alpine stripes. Feel free to join me sometime! peace, -brett.