Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Catskills Action!

This past weekend Naomi and I traveled down to the Catskills to attend the Catskills Ice Festival sponsored by Alpine Endeavors. I was scheduled to give my multi-media show in Saturday night and was excited to check out the ice and mixed climbing in the Catskills. We got down to New Paltz late Friday night and stayed with our friend Ryan Stefiuk of Bigfoot Mountain Guides. Ryan has been getting after it in the Catskills this season and has put up several first ascents. Saturday morning we tagged along with a clinic Ryan was teaching at a crag called the Black Chasm.

Ryan Stefiuk on a mixed line in the Black Chasm

Myself on "Instant Karma"

The Black Chasm and the rest of the Catskills ice climbing destinations are located high up in the mountains above the sun belt of New Paltz. We followed a mile long trail which eventually dropped 400' or so down to the crag. Ryan pointed out the different lines to us including an uncompleted mixed line straight up the tallest and steepest section of cliff. After warming up on an awesome mixed line called Instant Karma I rapped into the unfinished line and placed several bolts to complete the work that previous climbers had done to establish the line about halfway up the cliff. The route required cleaning some enormous blocks which came out frighteningly easy!

Naomi leading in the Chasm!

On the FA of Hydropower M9 WI 5-

In the thick of it on Hydropower

Sunday morning found us taking a Spanish tranquilo start and not getting out the crag until around 10am. This time our friend Lucho Romero joined us for the day. Lucho is one of the most well rounded climbers I know and is one of those people who just plain inspire confidence when you're around them. It was great to be out with him this weekend!

I got on the new line and flashed to the previous high point until I fell and then dogged my way up the rest to figure out the moves. The climbing was engaging from the start with solid M7 moves to a no hands rest at the start and then ever-steepening climbing to the massive free-hanging curtain above. After a rest I went back up and nearly made it to the curtain before unexpectedly popping off a slopey hook. With darkness pretty much having arrived, I packed it in and we hiked out.

Alden after headbutting the ice!

I decided to call into work and take Monday off and we headed back to the Chasm on Monday with Ryan and Vermont climber Alden Pellet who had received 3 stitches in his forehead the day before. Naomi led her second ice pitch ever and styled it and I followed for a warm-up. On my first attempt of the day on the new route I made it all the way to the ice before elbowing my ice tool out of a hook while clipping! AAAHHHH! I couldn't believe it. I had the route in the bag only to knock my own tool off the route!

After climbing 90+ feet of drytooling to get there it was hard to motivate to get back on but I rallied and sent on the next try. After pulling onto the icicle I moved above the attachment point and fired in a screw about 3/4 of the way when a high powered stream of water cam shooting out the back of the screw! I had never had this happen to me and was startling to say the least. I moved quickly to avoid being totally drenched and climbed to the trees to top out the line.

Check out the video clip shot by Ryan Stefiuk of Bigfoot Mountain Guides!

I named the new route Hydropower M9 WI 5-. According to Ryan this is currently the hardest mixed route in the Catskills and after seeing some of the potential that this area holds I'm sure it won't be the hardest for long. With some work and motivation, this area could house some of the raddest mixed climbing in the northeast! Get down there and get after it!

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