20090110 & 11 / Ice Climbing with Sierra Mountain Center

After living, breathing, and thinking skiing for the last two months, I jumped at Connie's call.  She was wondering if I was interested in coming down for the weekend and take Megan, Lohit, and Kartnik ice climbing in June Lake.  Of course I was!  But just in case, I packed my skis.

I was amazed to see how little snow there was in June Lake - which means a lot of the WI2 and WI3 lines that usually get buried by snow are still visible and climbable.  Anyone interested?  From talking to my friends in June Lake, it sounds like a rain-shadow event has existed from June Lake to Sonora Pass, so while Mammoth and points south have gotten a decent amount, and Lake Tahoe was hammered down by the Christmas storms, there's still bare ground in June Lake.

We spent two days at Horsetail Falls climbing the three different lines on the right side of the flow.  Everyone had prior experience belaying from climbing in the gym or outside, so we were able to focus on the specifics of climbing ice, including efficient tool use and crampon technique.  On Sunday I introduced mixed climbing as well, and we were able to climb a thin line that occassionally forms on the far right side of the falls.  Connie came out on Saturday to see what this show is all about, and swears she's coming back with her husband.
Sunday evening we toasted the weekend with coffee and hot chocolate:  I had to get back to Lake Tahoe, and Kartnik and Lohit had to drive all the way back to the bay.

Don't let the forecasts and weather reports fool you - there's still plenty of ice to climb in June Lake and Lee Vining.  I bet a couple of the less trafficked routes are still accessible right now too!

I posted a similar article on Sierra Mountain Center's blog: smcblog.wordpress.com. Check out SMC at sierramountaincenter.com - Chris