Sierra Winter Ice Climbing Season Finishes Off Strong

The winter ice climbing season normally begins sometime in November as the temperatures consistently enough to allow ice to form in Lee Vining Canyon and June Lake. This year ice began forming in November and by December we had enough to begin climbing on it. As the season progressed the already good ice continued to improve. Conditions remained great in February and with cold temperatures continuing to prevail the season stretched right into the middle of March. bNow our focus is shifting to the springtime. We are busy guiding climbs on the Mt. Whitney’s Mountaineer’s Route, going backcountry skiing, and are getting out on the rock more often. Stay tuned for updates on some of these adventures.

Believe it or not California actually has ice climbing for most of the year though. As spring turns to summer the snowpack melts except in areas that don’t receive much sun. There are many gullies in the Sierra that contain permanent snow that turns to ice through many melt/freeze cycles. By later in July many of these gullies begin forming alpine ice that make for very enjoyable climbing. Some of the more popular climbs include North Peak, Mt. Dana, the V-Notch Couloir in the Palisades, the Mendel Couloir on Mt. Mendel, Checkered Demon, among others. We are taking sign ups now for these and other popular summer and fall climbs.

Here are a few pictures highlighting some of our last days of climbing for the winter season.

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Rachel Hurlburt learning about the world of ice climbing for the first time!

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Kurt Wedberg high on Lee Vining’s Bard Harrington Wall on March 9, 2010

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SMI guide Sara Berghoff leading a pitch at June Lake

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Leading a pitch of ice on Lee Vining’s Main Wall


SMI guide Trevor Anthes leading a pitch of thin ice on Lee Vining’s Bard Harrington Wall

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Kurt Wedberg topping out on Lee Vining’s Main Wall as light snow begins to fall

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