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Upper Wall 

WI5 M5 X

   
Type:  Mixed, Ice, 5 pitches, 1000', Grade III
Consensus: WI5 M5 [details]
FA: Duncan Ferguson
Season: Occasionally in the fall (Sept-Nov)
Page Views: 2,246
Submitted By: Roy Leggett on Jan 21, 2007

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Atop P.4. This is where we bailed.

Description 

This ephemeral route forms up on North/North-West face of Thatchtop, to the right of Necrophilia, and when conditions are right, continues the entire length of the wall (1,000 feet).

This is an incredibly ephemeral route, and we did not complete it due to the sun causing it to fall apart while we were on it. The sun sent a rain of ice onto us with constant BB size piece stinging our face and pieces up to baseball-size whizzing just inches from our head. At one point, a chunk of ice about the size of surfboard fell fifty feet to our left. Time to go!

The first 2 1/2 pitches were thin slabs and corners. While the climbing was low angle (WI 3 with one spot of M5), it was very thin and unprotected. The upper two pitches that we climbed where steeper, but had more ice and protection (though still sparse). The upper pitches also tended to have steep short cruxes spread between easier unprotected terrain.

We knew the sun would cause problems and while we tried to move as quickly as possible, the tenuous nature of the climbing required us to move slowly and precariously. While we where both bummed to not complete the route, we felt very lucky as we got to climb about 800 ft. of the route on September 25th. A great way to start the season.
The route is mentioned in the Rossiter guide as WI6, but we felt we only encountered difficulties to WI5 M5. We did however have approximately 200 feet of sustained ice remaining when we bailed, though it did not look to be terribly steep, just thin (<6 inches of ice) and delicate. (See the photos).

This was an awesome route, and I can't wait to try and climb it again.


Location 

The route is located on the North/North-West aspect of Thatchtop Mountain. We found that it was much quicker to access it from the far, west side of The Loch (lake). Stay on the trail past the lake, then cut hard south to the base of the wall. The route start at the lowest point of rock slabs to the right of Necrophilia.
We rappelled the upper wall, then traversed over to Necrophilia to continue rappelling.


Protection 

The protection was sparse and tenuous and we often found ourselves climbing difficult cruxes 30 ft above half-driven knifeblades and slung icicles. The majority of the gear was rock gear, but we did have one pitch with 40 ft. of WI 5 that was thick enough to take screws. Bring a standard alpine rack to 3 in, a few blades and angles, several stubbies (possibly up to 6 depending on the amount of ice), and we even placed a few specters. We only came across one old sling at the point where we bailed, then traversed over to the Necrophilia raps.



Photos of Upper Wall Slideshow Add Photo
Andy Johnson entering zen on P.1.
Andy Johnson entering zen on P.1.
Andy Johnson on P.4. DAMN THE SUN.
Andy Johnson on P.4. DAMN THE SUN.
The Upper Wall as we descended. You can see Andy rappelling in the right margin of the photo.
The Upper Wall as we descended. You can see Andy r...
Andy Johnson gearing up at the base.
Andy Johnson gearing up at the base.
Approaching the route. The obvious ice is Necrophilia. Upper Wall is to the right and continues up the length of the wall.
Approaching the route. The obvious ice is Necrophi...
The last pitch which we did not climb as it was disintegrating in front of our eyes.
The last pitch which we did not climb as it was di...
Andy Johnson following p.2.
Andy Johnson following p.2.
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