(Last Updated On: December 12, 2009)
I wouldn’t really consider myself an ice-climber. But, when I take the time or have the opportunity to go, I always enjoy ice climbing. Still, my exposure to it has been minimal. Aside from the fun-factor, I appreciate ice climbing for the mountaineering skills it builds.
Three years ago, Frank and I passed this Sherman ice climb near Lake City while on our way to ski Handies, one of the fourteeners in the area. Since then, I’ve had my sights set on climbing this ice fall, but never really got around to doing it.
My friend Jim, who works as a guide splitting his time between the Aspen area and Boulder, is an avid ice-climber. We’d been talking about getting together for an ice climb for awhile. Things finally came together this past weekend as Frank, Jim, and I all made our way to Lake City to climb the Sherman ice fall.
If you think Crested Butte is small, then you should go to Lake City. Even smaller and more isolated, I cannot think of a place in Colorado that has a more Northern Exposure feel to it than Lake City. From the deer that wander through the road on a regular basis to the eccentric characters you meet at the bar, Lake City is the living version of this long-canceled television show.
The temperature read 4 degrees F when we left town in the morning. Brrrr! Thankfully an incoming storm was blasting “warmer” wind our way.
A view of the ice fall from the road.
The hike to the bottom of the ice fall was less than 30 minutes. Frank in front of the ice fall.
Staring up the ice fall. Ice is so beautiful 🙂
Jim began leading the first pitch of the ice climb for us.
Frank belaying Jim.
Frank and I followed.
Top of the first pitch. Guess I like it 🙂
View looking down the valley from the top of the first pitch.
The second pitch was more of a walk than a climb. But the third pitch was more demanding. Again, Jim lead this pitch.
I followed next.
Jim smiling while we dangle off the anchor at the top of the third pitch.
At the top of the third pitch there was still one more pitch to go. But, time was ticking and daylight would have been an issue should we continue up the fourth pitch. With this in mind, we decided to forego the last pitch. I was oddly relieved as the third pitch had taken a lot out of me.
View from the top of the second pitch as Jim and Frank prepare to rappel. Can you find them about half way up, just below the rock wall on the left?
Showing some steeze!
Setting up the rappel for the first pitch.
Frank rappelling down the first pitch.
As we packed up and headed back to the car the first flakes of the big storm were beginning to fly.
Frank is all smiles with the onset of the snow.
Even though we didn’t make it to the top of the ice climb, it was still a great day. I had forgotten how fun ice climbing can be. We’ll just have to come back on another day to attack that 4th pitch. Thanks to Jim, who was a great leader and who made this trip possible as neither Frank nor I are capable of leading this climb. I’m looking forward to getting out with Jim some more on climbs and skis, and I’m looking forward to getting back to face some ice again soon!