I’ve only been to the Kitchen once, and I’m certain as we hike in that we’re going in a different way than I went before. Instead of rappelling in from the Upper Kitchen, we descended a series of switchbacks and follow a creek until we were standing on a frozen pool of water and looking out across the canyon at Tiers of Joy (WI3-4). I was thinking, wow this looked pretty rad, while Dustin uncoiled a rope for us to rappel down. I’m still oblivious to where we are at this point, and as I’m rappelling I’m expecting to see rock or some marginal ice. But as I look to my left there’s a roaring waterfall gushing under and over cascading ice. And directly in front of and all around me is fat ice. It’s not until I touch down that Dustin tells me this is Bride Veil Falls (WI3).
Dustin pulls the rope, leads up, and belays me from the top. I finish and say to him, “I feel like I could lead that”. He tells me to go down and climb it again, this time using one tool. And I do it. Pretty easily, actually. I know that I can lead it, for sure. I know that I’m absolutely solid on this ice. But, I’m a little hesitant. I’m not afraid, but I know if I do it I’m 100% committed. I decide to let it marinate and we cross over the creek to Tiers of Joy.
TOJ looks intimidating. It’s taller than Bride Veil Falls, more sustained, and definitely more exposed. Dustin points out all the rest stances and reminds me to take advantage of them as well as to take in the exposure and relax. I do as he says. I still get nervous and I’m pretty tired while cleaning the last two screws but I’m mindful to remain calm and take in the scenery, which helps keep me in control. Still, I’m over gripping my tools. I’m still struggling with this rookie mistake when nervous or on strenuous ice. I really need to focus on having control over my grip or I’ll just end up burning out my arms.
|Climbing Tiers of Joy|
|Bride Veil Falls|
|Above my 2nd Screw on Bride Veil Falls|
From there, Dustin and I headed into the Devil’s Kitchen and the ice was tremendous. Huge school bus sized hangers and gorgeous smears of thick ice ran up the walls. We climbed 3rd Corner (WI4) which is a pretty long and sustained route and I found myself needing to take several rests. That ridiculous death-grip I on my tools I was talking about before was starting to wear me thin. I was able to clean the last screw but once I reached it I lowered off, exhausted. Dustin talked to me about using the higher grip on the tool after swinging, resting with my arms extended as opposed to flexed, and even keeping a more calm face while swinging. Little points that will add up when combined. I know I climb well. My mistakes are common. But as I progress and push myself into leading and climbing harder routes, I’ll have to rely more on sound technique than muscle.
|Climbing 3rd Corner|
|Some of the sick hangers in Devil's Kitchen|
I decided to end the day running a couple laps on shorter, but steep, section of ice a little further up into the Kitchen. It’s a section of hard 3’s and 4’s, about half the length of the taller routes where I had just climbed. I topped out on my first route, and then traversed above to redirect the rope above another route. I climbed up and down a few more time, worked on some of the above-mentioned tips and called it a day with a smile on my face.
|Wrapping it up in Devil's Kitchen|