Donorcicle is the only route at Joes Valley I found to be par with the Canadian Rockies grades. It is a true WI 5 pillar. The main corrective beta is that this is only a 100’ pillar, not the reported 140’ that David Black and others state it to be.
We found a typical pillar in late December, with a mushrooming base and a solid attachment. The ice was good for pro with some cleaning effort. The center to left was the driest side. There is quite a bit of wet drip formation to the right (December). There is a huge boulder at the top of the water fall where it was obviously quite convenient to place several rappel bolts. You can scramble to the top via the left or right if you need to top rope it. However there is a fence on the left, so perhaps that is private land. If you find yourself into a lot of snow, you will need a decent 4wd to drive close to the climb via a dirt road that veers off of the paved lake road to the right after the run down resort and then along the fence. We switched to low gear in quite a bit of snow through this section. Either way, parking out at the road or driving in, this route has a short approach.
ConditionsThe most important beta to offer regarding ice is what one saw or experienced during a particular month during any given year. This helps others gauge when certain climbs are in or not. During late December of 2008, Donorcicle and CCC were both in and in good shape. Deadbolt and Highway to Heaven was a real slog during December, 2008 and most of the other routes in Joes Valley were not in and looked to maybe not even make it during the 2008-2009 season. According to the locals, early December was in fact dry. This is a relatively high elevation area and the weather can be quite windy and cold. We experienced a ton of snow when we were visiting which, despite cold temps for several weeks, was insulating what ice there was keeping it from forming up nice and clean.
ApproachThe way to find climbs in Joes Valley is real simple, by mile marker on the paved road around Joes Valley Reservoir. Donorcicle is at mile marker 2.8 just beyond some sort of rough trailer park resort deal. There is a road that can be completely covered with snow that veers off of the paved road to the right and then hugs a fence for a distance until it starts to bend back right into the trees. This is a good place to park and walk from here up the left side where you can easily drop down to the base of the climb.
Tip for the Valley
Danny VanWagoner is one cool cat. We really enjoyed his hospitality and I could not recommend his place high enough for ice climbers who can afford to dry out and rest up at night. He charges $85 for his private bath rooms, but has cheaper accomadations with a shared bath. This includes breakfast which allows you to focus more on climbing. When you divide it up by two, it is a pretty good deal, particulary when it is damn cold. He allows you to use his kitchen for dinner with proper manners of course. He kind of has it set up more like a true hostel. Watch out for the killer dog and Danny’s obsession with Jimmy Buffett. I am not sure, but I think during the winter he might rather be in the Florida Keys.
You don’t want to stay in Price, UT as the guide book suggests, that is too far away from Joes Valley in my opinion if you are focused on climbing.