Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Winter of 2014/15 (so far)

So far it has been a mediocre winter for climbing in southwest Wisconsin, and real life has kept me from traveling too far afield since my trip to Jackson Falls over Halloween weekend. A quick check of my records shows only forty "pitches" in the last three months, more than half of which were laps on the short waterfall at the head of Cox Hollow in Governor Dodge State Park. I have been doing a lot of running, lifting, skiing and training on my campus and finger boards, but that is a weak substitute for the real thing. The ten-day forecast does not inspire any confidence either, and I think I am coming down with a solid case of cabin fever (despite seventeen-odd miles on skis and/or foot and about 400 feet of climbing in the last week).

It has not been all bad though, a few trips to Wyalusing State Park have yielded the discovery (or at least rediscovery) of a few minor routes and the ensuing potential first ascents.

While I cannot say for certain if any of these were indeed first ascents (or for that matter, are even of a caliber that makes claiming the FA worth worrying about), I can say that I, and several partners, did a fair amount of legwork (both literally and figuratively) to find them and look into their (in this case lack of) history. Regardless I had a good time with the various partners that I dragged over there, and I hope if the routes have been done in the past someone comes forward to set the record straight.
Tim (L) and Drake (R) following the Relien Ravin (WI2)
Tim belaying me on the possible FA of the first pitch of Le Petit Ravin (WI3-) - Erol and I would return a few weeks later to link the remaining pitches.
Me, on the possible FA of Le Petit Chemin de Fer Pilier (WI3)
Erol leading the possible FA of Sand Castle (WI4-)
Other than hanging out at Wyalusing, I have done a bit of ice climbing at Governor Dodge State Park, I shot some videos and placed them in an earlier post.
Matthew, night-soloing at Cox Hollow
Me, solo at Cox Hollow
I love ice climbing down at the Dodge, because it is close to home, and short enough that I feel comfortable ropeless in most conditions. It makes a great place for me to efficiently log some mileage, even if I cannot find a partner.

Speaking of close to home, I went out last Monday with Tim to explore my neighborhood. We found a short falls hidden deep in the Baraboo Hills. It is not really anything to get too excited about, but it was fun to find something so close to home. It is my guess that we did the first ascent of this thing, but it would be difficult at best to verify that. We called it Redacted (WI2-), because of its secretive nature. If you are really interested in learning more about this short slab of ice, let me know and I will get you back there. The falls is on publicly accessible land, but the most of the access routes to it cross private land. Tim and I were lucky enough to get a pickup truck ride to within a few minutes' walk of the falls - much better than another approach involving a multi-hour slog and still crossing private land.
Redacted (WI2-)
Aside from all of the ice climbing I managed to get out on the rock during a brief warming spell in late December. Matthew and I spent a day logging pitches at Devil's Lake in our mountaineering boots, a nice way to practice for moving quickly in the real mountains.
Matthew seconding Peter's Project (5.7)
I am actually starting to get really desperate to go rock climbing again, my trip to Utah is only a few weeks away, and I need to be in rock climbing shape for it. So desperate, that I actually went to the climbing gym yesterday. On my way home I stopped in Mazomanie to visit my friends Mike and Melissa Lohre. I was there to pick up some of their Mike's Mix products, and they offered to make me one of their ambassadors. A great fit for both of us, since I regularly use their and products and I am a huge fan of both the products themselves and the way Mike and Melissa run their business - they are a great family business with affordable and effective products - you should definitely give them a try. Thanks Mike and Melissa!

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