Shawn Bunnell and Phil Schuld climbing “Called On Account Of Rains” IV 5+ (M4 R) on a bluebird day at Lake Willoughby VT
Solo climbs the Last Gentleman, Promenade and China Shop on a sunny day in January. “The Lake” always delivers.
A birds eye view of “The Lake” and The Last Gentleman amphitheater, like you have never seen before! – View Full Screen for the best experience
Video, editing and flying by Doug Millen
Heresy: An unorthodox practice, publicly avowed, and obstinately defended.
Heretic: One who carries out the above; traditionally burned alive as penalty for sins.
THE HERETICarticle by Patrick Cooke
There’s a particular dogma within our community that drives us and binds us together: get out every chance you can. Our season is short, and we need to make the most of it. Last year I climbed 55 days. I could have gotten out more, but I feel pretty good about the fact that I managed to get out so much in a season that didn’t begin for me until the week before Christmas, a full month after Doug, Court, Alan, and the rest of the gang had broken out the tools for first swings.
I needed to get out those 55 days. For me, every day out was a session in vertical therapy. Throwing myself at the ice, day in and day out, let me work through everything else that I couldn’t control in my life. I was the poster-child of the addicted ice climber – I couldn’t climb enough.
But how many of those days were truly good days? How many were days where I walked away as the sun set, thinking “damn, that was a great day of climbing!”? The truth is, although I climbed a ton last winter, it wasn’t really my best season of ice climbing. For every great day I had where I’d climb something noteworthy for me, there’d be another day of cruising up moderates because that’s all my mind could handle. Sure, moderate ice is fun, but climbing it because you feel like you should instead of because you want to isn’t necessarily inspiring. In fact, on many of those days, I probably would have been better off skiing, running, reading, sleeping in, or hanging out with friends.
I won’t be climbing 55 days this winter. Having a full-time job made that a foregone conclusion before the season even began. But 40 days would be possible. 30 would be easy. I doubt I’ll get 25 days out this winter. And I’m fine with that.
An Unorthodox Practice:
Two weekends ago, I passed up the opportunity to go ice climbing. Not moderate gully cruising or anything of that like… a day at the Lake taking advantage of hero ice on steep lines I either haven’t done before or would usually jump at the chance of doing again. I stayed home, took a yoga class, climbed some with friends at the local gym, saw my extended family.
I’ve gotten picky in when I’m willing to go out… I’m bailing if it’s too cold, too rainy, or the offerings not inspiring enough. Instead I’m climbing in a gym, reading, writing, doing yoga, running, pursuing relationships, hanging out with friends, and everything else I’ve swept aside in my dogmatic pursuit of ice week in and week out.
I don’t know how many days I’ve climbed so far this winter. I started counting at the beginning of the winter, but don’t really care to bother at this point. Maybe it’s 12 or 13 days… it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is how I’m climbing. Despite going two weeks between swings of the tools at times, I’m climbing better than I ever have.
This season I haven’t been getting out much, but every day has been a quality day. There haven’t been any of the “why am I here?” moments that seemed to happen so frequently when I was forcing getting on the ice. I’ve led pitches this winter I’d have been too chicken-shit to lead last winter, all with a cool, calm head and none of the overwhelming feelings of panic that lead to this.
I’m more relaxed, calmer, and climbing better. Replacing a single-minded obsession with a more balanced approach to life is reaping dividends for me. In three days of climbing in the Daks last weekend, I led more hard pitches and with greater ease than I did in 10 days in the Canadian Rockies last winter. Climbing the first pitch of PowerPlay Sunday as a pretty much dry, seriously runout line that required every trick I knew might have been the best lead I’ve ever done.
I have no regrets over bailing on that day at the Lake.
I’m not sure most people on this site agree with my stance. But I’m standing by it. I’ll climb less if that means I climb better.
There’s a heretic among us… Light your torches!
Astro Turf (IV M9, WI 4+ R)
Lake Willoughby Vermont
FA: Matt McCormick and Josh Hurst
On Saturday Jan 7, 2005, Josh Hurst and I climbed a new route in the central section of Mt. Pisgah. “Astro Turf” start as for Aurora about 150’ right of Super-Nova in the right facing ice/turf gully on the left side of the Star man buttress. The first 2 pitches follow Aurora.
1. Climb the 40’ right facing ice/turf gully to the big snow ledge and belay below the left facing turf and rock corner capped by a chockstone.
2. M5 – Dry tool into and up the left facing groove past one fixed pin and tunnel under the chockstone capping the groove. Belay immediately after the chockstone at the fixed nut/pin anchor.
3. M6/WI 4+R – Standing on the chockstone, dry tool left until established on the ice. There is a fixed angle and nut that can be found at the stance at the end of the traverse. The pin is reachable after stepping up immediately after the traverse. This pin may be covered in ice depending on the conditions but can be dug out against the main black wall. Once across the traverse, climb 80-90 degree thin ice for a 30-40 ft run out on to thicker ice. Climb thicker ice to the top of the ice smear and belay
4. M9 – Dry tool up into the shallow groove past 2 bolts and small cam placements. At the end of the groove, reach up and clip the bolt in the 6’ roof then pull strenuously out the roof past 2 more bolts and up the 90 degree thin ice to the ledge above.
5-6. WI 5 – Climb the center of three flows to the top as for (Starman?).
Standard rack needed plus ice screws.
– Matt McCormick
Lake Willoughby, VT
FA: 01-21-11 Ryan Brooks and Josh Hurst
“Tiny Dancer, It’s between Plug and Chug and Call of the Wild. It’s a modern mixed route that deserves to see a lot of traffic due to it’s accessibility, reliability and rock quality” -Josh Hurst
P1: M7 Climb 20′ of Plug and Chug than diagnal right on ice blobs to the center of the overhanging rock. Take the weakness up and right to more ice blobs on the mid-cliff ledge. Belay on left in the ice. It is possible to take ice blobs directly up to the rock in some years.
Rack: 5-8 ice screws, standard rack to 2″, no pins needed, 12 quickdraws
Photo’s by Ryan Brooks.
Lake Willoughby VT
“Larry and I rapped back to the ledge and Matt had just started the next rap when all hell broke loose!
Tons and Tons of water cut loose at very high pressure over the big wall for about ten minutes. It was just ten feet to our right. I cant explain what it was like, just terrifying. We were planning to rappel one hundred feet over in that direction. If we were a few minutes ahead we would of been goners. We could not even go back that way because it was so wet and the ice so washed out. So we had a totally epic rapper down the big wall with stuck ropes hanging belays and all. Our 70 meter ropes are now about 30 meters”. – Dave Powers
Source: NEice photo gallery – Dave Powers
Lake Willoughby, VT
Moody Aunt Ruby (WI 6 R/X, 110M) – Will Mayo, Joe Szot & Ian Boyer
Across the Lake on Mt. Hor, Joe Szot, Ian Boyer and I climbed the ethereal yellow icicles that hang from those compact limestone cliffs today, 12/13/2005, naming the route. Arriving at the base of the cliff with the temperature not much above zero and racking up above the southward rolling fog along the surface of the open waters below after having traversed the entire south end of the Lake, I realized that I had left the rock rack in the Flying Brick (my van). I asked the boys with a straight face, “Okay, who’s got the rock rack?” But, they knew the mistake was mine. My punishment was to lead the thing with only ice gear, which made things rather run-out. The first 60M pitch was the crux and involves a hollow vertical column of ice to a ramp to attain the golden double-tiered free-hanging icicles that hang above. These daggers of ice were the cruxes and required launching up gymnastically onto the hangers with gear well below. Joe Szot climbed the 50M WI 5 second pitch up mushroomed ice to a tier of free-standing columns and reached the trees. Moody Aunt Ruby was climbed on-sight in “ground up” style and was yet another in a string of phenomenally exciting days of ice climbing with close friends. Moody Aunt Ruby is definitely one of the most exciting ice climbs I have ever done.