This is less than a 1000’ ascent day. The ice climb itself is three pitches of approximately 245 meters. Your approach from the official trailhead for the Beer ice climbs on the Field Service Road is all of 15-30 minutes. Leave the trail head and start ascending immediately through the trees on the south side of the road. Look for a trail through the snow, but if there is none, start traversing left past an obvious snow gully and continue to ascend and traverse left until you reach a small avalanche path with the first pitch of Guinness Gully in clear vision above (although it might be heavily covered in snow). There are a couple of smaller trees on the left hand corner of the start that make for a decent platform to gear up. You can scramble up from there another 10 meters to a flat belay spot. The first and second pitches are sustained for the grade, but relatively short, 30 and 20 meters respectively. The final pitch is 60 meters with rest stops and about three short steep curtains.
1st Pitch-30m/ In December, 2006 this pitch had some minor mushrooming effect going on. We started and kept right. This is a classic WI 4 pitch, nice and vertical, but not overwhelming to make screw placements. Once you near the top, venture left to the trees to find a belay station in place or make your own. Place one screw at the top for a directional for the 2nd. Rock flanks climbers right and makes for an aesthetic pitch. The views over the valley below and down the valley leading to Emerald Lake help keep you warm.
2nd Pitch-20m/ This is a steeper and more challenging pitch than the first pitch, but at least 10 meters shorter. The left side forms a pillar which was not stout enough to climb in December, 2006. Right center looked to be the best line. You are mostly hanging to put your screws in on this pitch. Like the first pitch, venture left once you near the top to find an existing belay station on a tree or create one yourself.
3rd Pitch-60m/ Wander up the left side of the gully and zig zag your way to the base of the final and longest pitch of Guinness Gully. This huge curtain offers a variety of options. The right side gives up more rest stops, but is also somewhat thinner. You will need a few shorter screws for this side more than likely. I used one short screw in December, 2006. The rappel and belay station is to the right side at the top of the pitch. If you are going to avoid putting a station in the ice, you will need to climb the right side due to lack of as well as drag on rope.
Due to an abundance of snow at the base of the curtain, I chose to run out the first steep section. The next steep curtain is the crux and where I found shallow ice. There is one final steep section once you succeed the crux, then it starts to ease off as the multiple rappel/belay stations come into sight to the upper right corner. There is a small section of ice further above, but you more than likely will not have the rope to ascend it (60m ropes).
DescentYou have two options for descent. One involves finding the top of that snow gully you passed on approach. This equates to ascending beyond the final ice pitch and circumventing a rock wall on climber’s right. We chose to rap the route. The first rappel can be done from any of two trees and even a single bolt and hanger at the top right corner of the final pitch. The lower two raps are on trees at the top climbers left of both of those routes. Basically all three rappel stations make good belay stations as well. You can take a fun otter slide down from the bottom of the first ice pitch back to the road and proceed back west to your vehicle.
Essential GearTwo Ice Tools, Double 60 meter Ropes, 12 Ice Screws and Draws (might need them all for that last pitch), Crampons, Helmet, Warm Clothes (no sun), Full Shank Boots. Be equipped to do a V Thread of course, but you should not have to on this descent.
- Avalanche Conditions
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