2004 I c e  C l i m b i n g

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The 2003/04 Ice season was an abbreviated one for myself. Fewer of our outings are documented this year. I've just gotten too lazy to take a camera along. Several factors restricted my climbing this year, a main partner moved to Salt Lake City, another got injured, and we bought an apartment to which we did a bit of work on before moving in late December. A good thing this year was my wife Margaret was able to join most of our outings.

Our earlier outings before I was itching to lead were great practice for her on top rope. The last 2 times out I got a bit more ambitious in terms of leading and heading for more remote climbs. The one trip this year without Margaret was supossed to be to Hillyer Falls. We got side tracked first at Moores Bridge Gully, which is a great long climb, then by Viola Falls which unlike the description in the recent Catskills Ice Climbing Guide was not a mear 2 pitches but 5 wonderful pitches of climbing. The 5th being a thin ice covered hill side with a 20 ft. vertical column topping out of the ravine.

The most recent and possibly last outting this year took us back to Kaaterskill Clove; again Hillyer was the destination, but this time we weren't to be distracted. After a lengthy approach which lead us well west looking for a place to cross the stream without dunking our feet we passed the tempting Viola falls continuing upwards towards Hillyer Falls. Persisting until Hillyer was well worth the effort. We had 4 solid pitches, the weather preceding our climb had balmy warm and rain followed by cold. There was damage to the ice but the places where the flowing water had eroded the ice was refrozen with chandelier ice and cawliflower formations. There was an interesting mix of solid old ice and newly formed stuff. The ice was suprisingly brittle and I was more than a little concerned when my axe blows knocked off not just dinner plates but in one instance near the top of a bulge, a torso sized block of ice that had apparently been weakend by the weather.

I was able to push the level of my climbing this year by leading 30-40ft verical lines. I guess that's enough to be satisfied with the season. I'm writing this in Mid March, so most likley the season is over but there's always a chance...

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