|Vail, Booth Creek
|Three Blind Mice aka Sabertooth T
This is a big curtain of unhacked, solid, blue ice. Maybe about 80-95 feet tall, and 60-70 feet wide. There are independent lines anywhere from solid WI4/4+ to possibly as high as WI5+/6(?). The easiest lines being on the far right, and left side variations. The middle sections being a bit longer and harder. Lots of variations possible on this, and the surrounding cliffbands. Would get a tad easier with some traffic.
We climbed the left side, and found the climbing challenging due to the steep, untouched, and bullet-proof nature of the ice. Quite possible it's been climbed before. But, there were no signs of former passage, no visible anchors, and a distinct shortage of opportunities for solid anchors.
The rap anchor (stoppers) we left in on the upper left rock band can be backed up with a couple small-mid cams and possibly a screw for a climbing anchor. This rap just gets you down with one 60 meter rope.
I gave it three stars due to the adventure-alpine feel of the area, and the chance to climb some thick and steep Vail ice without boot-sized chopped steps. Decently long approach though, and it was a bit spooky getting nailed by a powder-snow avalanche on the lead that left about 4-5 new feet at the base.
APPROACH/WALK OUT: Follow the snowshoe trail uphill from the Booth Creek trailhead for about 4-4.5 miles. Keep an open eye on the cliff bands to the West at this point, and some blue stuff should start coming into view. This is the second sizeable flow that comes into view (comes into view shortly after the big 4-500 foot ice ribbon). The trail runs above the east side of the gorge in the bottom of the valley. To access this climb, keep walking past it on the snowshoe trail until the gorge narrows from hundreds of feet to 20-30 feet across. Pick a way down the gorge at this point. Once at the bottom of the gorge, traverse back the way you came on the other side of the gorge, and up towards the climb. This involved some bushwhacking, and steep sections, so sniff your way up there. The base of the climb is a bit steep, but you should be able to stomp out a decent stance on one of the sides. When we were done climbing, we took a different path, heading straight for the trail on the other side of the gorge. This worked well, but may have been more work on the approach. (A note of caution: the trail itself goes below a few avalanche shoots that come down regularly, and the climbs themselves have some exposure, so use your best [judgment].)
Screws, small selection of small to mid size rock gear. Snowshoes/poles helpful on approach. Beacons and a shovel and stuff might not be a bad idea to throw in if you have it, and if the snow's been coming down. A single 60 meter rope just got us down from the anchor we put in on the top left side of the climb.
N/A. Walk-around opportunities looked very dangerous and steep from what we could tell. Better off to lead it.
BETA PHOTO: This is the ice ribbon that comes into view a few ...
The bottom section, steeper than it looks.
Starting up the pitch.
Jeff clearing a bulge. Photo by Scott.
Higher up. Photo by Jeff.
Jeff nearing the final step. Photo by Scott.
|Comments on Three Blind Mice aka Sabertooth
Nov 28, 2005
I've climbed this many times, fun route. Only WI2. We called it the Spider's Thread. The climb you [describe] has been done and is also known as the Saber's Tooth. There are a few [more] in the area as well.
|By Joe Keyser|
From: Scottsdale, AZ
Dec 1, 2005
When we were up there, the easiest line (only one I was capable of doing) was definitely a bit harder than say Spiral Staircase, or Hidden Falls in RMNP. Hence the WI4+ rating I applied in my description. The other lines were much harder than they appear in my pics, in fact, they were overhanging. I suppose conditions could be a factor. Anyhow, way cool to see somebody else has been up there!
|By Alan Searcy|
From: Pine, Colorado
Jan 5, 2009
The avi danger above this route and the Spider's Thread is bonafide. Three Blind Mice or the Saber Tooth is a fun 60' of climbing with 40' of WI4+. Very steep and pristine. Only 40' wide but had two or three lines on it worth doing. We hit it during a period of consolidated snowpack, and it still made me nervous. Skiing out in the dark is not recommended but was amusing.