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The wide start of Ice 9.
This is the wide, crooked crack that is easily spotted as you turn the corner around the North Buttress of the West Ridge. It is just right of Prince of Darkness and Sirens of Titan.
The first 20 feet are very wide but easy. After enjoying a seat on a pinnacle, you do a fun, rightwards hand traverse and pull up into a left-facing corner that you follow to the end. The last twenty feet of the corner protect beautifully on hand-size and smaller pieces, but will feel a little tough if 5.6 is your limit.
A large piece or two will protect the very wide start (i.e. #4.5 Camalot) or you can wait until the wide (and pretty easy) stuff is over at which point a standard Eldo rack will be fine. The anchor setup requires care and equalization of a slightly more than average number of pieces due to detached blocks.
BETA PHOTO: Ice Nine viewed from the Eldorado Canyon trail.
BETA PHOTO: The wide crack start of Ice Nine; easier...
The original start to Ice Nine.
Near the top.
|By Kevin Currigan|
Aug 26, 2002
I've done this route twice now and would do it again. I would give it at least two stars. Maybe not three because of the approach. But the easy walk-off counters that. Nice off-width (some of which can be avoided by climbing the face) followed by an exposed hand traverse with a 5.6 slab. For extra spice once around the corner from the hand travere the arete can be had sans pro but still 5.6.
|By Frances Fierst|
From: Manila, Philippines
Oct 22, 2003
First of all, this climb is an offwidth. If you don't like offwidth, you won't like this climb. However, I thought it was a lot of fun. I was able to climb a lot of it on the outside, and I spent very little time inside the crack.
Based on the description, I brought a 4.5 camalot. Dave mentions that he was not able to place his #4 until the crack narrows and slants up and to the right. Having a 4.5 didn't change this. I put my cam in the same spot Dave mentions. I don't think having a 5 camalot, or even a 6 WC friend would make any difference. This crack is WIDE. I did find a small nut placement before I put this cam in. I was also able to sling a jutting corner of rock at the top of the offwidth section. This gave me the confidence to climb around it, rather than grovel through it.
The rest of the climb protects well, and the hand traverse is great fun. I though the top of the climb was easy after leading the run out section at the bottom.
|By Clint Locks|
Jul 22, 2004
First off--regarding Kevin's comment-yup, this climb *is* way on up the West Ridge, my opinion is: allow enough time and just enjoy the hike. We could live in an uglier place, you know.
As far as the climb goes, there's a small (good?) chock stone low in the crack. I slung it, just for fun...that's about all you've got until that aforementioned #4.5. Do extend the slings on your pieces under the roof before the traverse, to minimize drag. Enjoy! Good times. --You can toprope Prince of Darkness from the anchor you build at the end of Ice Nine, by the way.--
|By Ron Olsen|
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 21, 2004
An enjoyable climb with a poorly-protected start.
I got two ball nuts and a black Alien in a thin horizontal crack about 10' up on the left side of the wide crack, and then ran it out to the pinnacle at the top of the crack, which I slung with a double-length sling.
The wide section isn't difficult and requires only a few offwidth moves. The hand traverse is airy, and the upper corner is well protected and fun.
|By tom stocker|
From: Lakewood, Colorado
Jul 17, 2006
You can protect the off-width portion with a blue BigBro about 2/3 of the way up. This should keep you off the ground if you pop before getting to the narrow portion of the crack. Then a #4 Camalot where the crack narrows and angles to the right. Main challenges are rope drag, sharp edges, hollow and loose rock, and several possibilities for grounding on ledges higher up the climb. Otherwise, a challenging adventure and quite different from most Eldo 5.6 climbs.
|By Dane Casterson|
Feb 23, 2008
Is anyone going to make the Kurt Vonnegut reference?
From: Santa Monica, Ca.
Feb 25, 2008
Or a sleeping drunkard up in Central Park,
Or the lion hunter in the jungle dark,
Or a Chineese dentist,
Or the British queen,
We all fit together in the same machine!
|By Chris G|
Nov 9, 2009
Okay, here's my take on this little 5.6. First, since there are so many sport climbers turned trad these days, you don't do this climb with a rack of quickdraws. Next, while easy, the moves off the ground put you into an offwidth that requires a big piece of pro to protect the moves. That first big piece of pro does nothing for you if you take a whipper before slinging the horn or turning the corner to get into the crack after the horn to place gear. In such a case, you risk a 35ft whipper into rocks below. I watched a guy, who could climb 5.10 sport, back off due to lack of pro needed for the start, so I lead the pitch for him. Wise move on his part. After passing the horn the pitch climbs a protectable 5.6 cracks to an offwidth roof that skirts rightward underneath. If you happen to have another very big piece of pro, you can protect the roof traverse, or if not you can get a smaller cam in a loose flake. Afterwards, this backs off to 5.5 or 5.6, but is a pretty finish in a short dihedral. Watch for loose rock above as well.
The long and short of this is, if you are a 5.7 trad leader, find another more protectable climb. If you can climb 5.9 or better you'll easily manage the headspace needed to do the somewhat unprotectable off-width start without concern.
|By Jay Eggleston|
Mar 17, 2010
The route described here is listed as the variation start in the newest Eldo guide by Steve Levin. Apparently, the original start climbs the squeeze chimney around the corner to the right. I found this chimney to be fun and enjoyable climbing. Done this way, the pitch is 5.7.
|By Julius Beres|
From: Boulder, CO
May 5, 2010
"After enjoying a seat on a pinnacle, you do a fun, rightwards hand traverse and pull up into a left-facing corner that you follow to the end. The last twenty feet of the corner protect beautifully on hand-size and smaller pieces, but will feel a little tough if 5.6 is your limit."
I found the description to be misleading. I did the original 5.7 start which was OK, but a little scary due to loose rocks. The final left-facing corner is very easy and protects well.... I don't think a 5.6 leader would be concerned about it. But the casually mentioned hand traverse does not seem like it is remotely 5.6 when you are standing below it. For those of us without a very long leg span, you basically have to just weight your hands and swing from one foothold out to the arete. I haven't seen too many other 5.6s that require you to be completely on your arms. Granted it did not require much skill, but it does require more strength than most 5.6s, and so I thought the hand traverse was the crux of the climb (harder than any move on the 5.7 start).