Marble Canyon (Lillooet) Ice, February 11-12 2011

2011 March 13

Right after getting back from Ouray, I got an email from Lukic asking if I’d like to go ice climbing. Yes, I’d like to go ice climbing. A small obstacle was that I had made other plans in town that weekend (I had been assuming that after a week plus in Ouray I would be tired of climbing. I assumed wrong). Since you’re reading this trip report it would be obvious that I flaked out on everything else and went ice climbing.

We only had two days, so the destination was Lillooet, BC. This is “only” about a 6 hour drive (each way) so it qualifies as “local” for a Seattle based ice climber. As we drove alongside the Fraser River, through evocatively named gas-food-lodging towns like Hope and Hells Gate, the wet, warm, and moss-draped canyons yielded to sagebrush studded hills dusted with snow, and the temperature dropped to freezing.

It was Lukic’s first time to the area too, but he had the beta and the guidebook and decided we’d try Marble Canyon first. It was surprisingly easy to find — road signs as described, frozen waterfalls visible from parking lot, easy walk across a lake (no bushes, postholing, or falling in creeks!). There were already a few climbers toproping The Dihedral, but the plum 3 pitch Icy BC was open. I was glad to take advantage of climbing with a more experienced partner, so Lukic led the first and second pitches. We declined the third pitch because of a combination of thin, steep chandelierness and closeness to sunset.

Lukic contemplating the third pitch of Icy BC

Lukic contemplating the third pitch of Icy BC

Next day, we left our motel room at sunrise to see temperatures in the 40s in Lillooet. Hm. We drove back out towards Marble Canyon anyway (other alternatives seemed likely to be even warmer), and when we got within a few kms, the snowflake icon blinked on, and it dropped into the twenties.

Crossing Crown Lake on Saturday morning

Crossing Crown Lake on Saturday morning

Another group was just starting up Icy BC when we got there, so we started on The Dihedral. Lukic led it then we repeatedly TR’d it until the Icy BC party were done and wanted to switch. In the meantime another team had arrived to toprope a mixed roof line, filling the three apparently doable routes to capacity (I would have guessed that there were only two doable routes before the mixed climbers arrived). One might complain about “crowds” at this point, but we got to climb what we wanted, and I really enjoyed watching the other climbers. Ouray is great, but many climbers there are newbies (including myself in that group of course) so are not that interesting to watch after learning the basics of what not to do (which I have to proceed to learn from experience anyway). I got to admire the confidence and efficiency of the other pair climbing ice, and learned that figure fours happen in real life, not just in climbing videos.

So, at this point we are flaking the ropes out under a route my partner had already led and I already knew I could get up without much problem. It is also afternoon, and we have a 6 hour return drive, so not only is this a good opportunity to lead, but it may be my last chance for the trip (and this is February, so it may be my last chance this season). Lukic graciously gave me the lead and even more graciously let me borrow his ice tools and screws. I don’t know if it was the Nomics, the softer ice, or what, but it actually seemed easier on lead than when I followed it the day before. Whatever it was, I’ll take it!

Icy BC

Icy BC

  • Marble Canyon, Icy BC (follow p1 and p2, lead p1)
  • Marble Canyon, The Dihedral (TR x3)
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