Day 1- Rainbow FallsI went out to Leavenworth for some ice climbing the 2 days between Christmas and my birthday, making for a perfect holiday break! It was my first time ice climbing, due to a very generous invitation on cascadeclimbers.com by Curt (montypiton). We went up Rainbow Falls (I think) the first day, where I learned technique and placing screws. I did a lot of "bouldering" (icicling?) at the bottom while Curt and his son Michael were climbing, and I took the time to test out different tools and different swing techniques.
Day 2- The FunnelThe next morning, we hiked up to The Funnel, a 3-pitch waterfall on Hubba Hubba Wall. The ice was more brittle and hard here, and I had to learn different techniques. I got a tool stuck on the vertical section at the bottom, and consequently fell trying to get it out. (Darn it!)
When I reached the belay, I asked Curt where to stand, and he gestured towards a slightly less sloped part of the waterfall with a thin layer of snow. I remember thinking, "Wait, what? I don't see a stance...oh." It was cool to look at the anchor, built off a resident piton, Curt's freshly-placed piton, and an ice screw. I hung the backpack with our puffy coats and some hot tea and clipped my camera in to the anchor. This was all new to me, but what a fun experience!
Curt brought Michael up and then led the second pitch, then Michael followed. A barrage of ice continued on throughout, with me looking up then consequently pressing myself against the waterfall repeatedly as chunks of ice bounced and shattered on my helmet. When it was finally my chance to climb, I undid the anchor and continued on to Curt and Michael at the top, noticing how small the front points on my G-12's were and how they barely scraped the surface of the ice, yet still gave me enough support to weight them.
The rappel tree, unfortunately, was about 20 feet above us. I led the short, unprotectable pitch (thinking there would be ice underneath, thus rendering it easy), but there was only powder snow covering rocks. I delicately continued up, and I hooked a small tree with my ice tool until I was able to climb onto the large tree, clip in, and belay Michael and Curt up. We rappelled back down, packed up our gear, and hiked down in the dark.
All in all, this was a fun trip and I am very eager for my second time ice climbing!
I bought a pair of Aztars from Curt! It was cool getting to test gear before buying it.
Rainbow Falls is like 3 minutes from the road, The Funnel is about 1,500 feet higher. Totally worth the walk though! (Who am I kidding- I like hiking too.)