I have seen this small smear form up a few times over the years, but it has never gotten fat enough to ever protect and most years it never was close to touching. Over a two week period I watched this smear of ice start to form and at one point the lower half fell down. The temps and days had to align perfectly to keep this smear forming.
The smear is very visible from the road spilling off the prominent cliff. The climb gets sun until about 11am and then goes into the shade which is why its forming. If it got anymore sun in the day it would never form. The days and temps aligned and it looked like we had one day to get this thing done before it fell down. I was hoping that it would be protectable, but just in case I brought the drill to ensure this thing would go down. If it wasn’t going to be protectable in the incredible conditions we have had this year it was simply not going to ever happen.
After a good look at the climb we came to the conclusion it was just not possible to protect the climb at all. I rappelled in hoping to see some sort of gear, but the ice was just to thin or delaminated. The very top curtain had potential for a screw at the top, but at that point the climbing was over. I decided to place bolts so that the climb could also be done when its even more mixed and I know others will appreciate the bolts when they see this climb. I like to put up climbs that others will want to come and do and there is no doubt this climb will get some traffic now that it is protectable.
The climbing is super fun and I would highly recommend it. The best part, the approach is only about 45 minutes and most times the river is frozen, but bring trash bags just in case. The climb is located about 30 miles up the North Fork above Blackwater Creek. You cant miss it!