Hi there ice climbers! Well as you may have noticed, Our ice report got a facelift along with our entire website. Unfortunately, we are guides and are not really competent with websites. If you are reading this you may be interested in one last ice climbing hurrah here in the Eastern Sierra. If that IS you, then read on…
This winter has been one for the record books. California experienced the driest winter on record in many locations including the San Francisco area where records go back to the 1850’s. With the drought also came the warmth. From December through February, the average daily temperature was 5 degrees warmer than the 100 year average. That is significant. “California ice” is already an oxymoron, so adding warmth is not necessarily great news. That said we did have cool enough nighttime temperatures here on the Eastside to keep Lee Vining Canyon frozen enough to climb for a normal full season. Horsetail Falls in June Lake did not fare so well and it dropped its ice by mid-February this year, never to reform again.
So Lee Vining Canyon is your last chance for this season’s ice around these parts. It has been cool the last couple of days and it has been hanging tough, but beware that this time of year there is too much warmth and solar radiation reflecting off of barren slopes to reliably keep ice from peeling off in large delamination sheets. Expert ice evaluation skills, or lack of interest in self preservation, will be required in the next couple of weeks, during which could be the grand finale. Ice screw anchors will melt out quickly and consider using V-threads for any anchor that will be placed for any length of time.
For those who want to make the venture: The approach is dry until the second creek, then the snow walking is easy. Still climbable ice on both Main Wall and Chouinard Falls. There was a big natural ice fall on the Main Wall recently and a 1 inch horizontal crack 3/4 of the way up Chouinard Falls. These are the signs and symptoms of dying ice. But go soon and go early if you want to get some one more time this season. Have fun, be safe, climb smartly!
Hear it from SMG guide Jed Porter on location in LVC on March 15th, a warm day: