Friday, December 20, 2013

Trip Report: Drury Falls

With the cold clear weather caused by the Fraser outflow two weeks ago, I got the urge to do some ski mountaineering.  Fellow AAI guide Chad Chocran and I cruised up the Twin Lakes road in an attempt to ski Mount Larrabee.  It was a total failure.  First the temperatures were frigid.  Second our stove stopped working, and third we got the god awful idea to eat a can of beans we found in the lookout.

Please don't try this at home.   
Although we woke to a crystal clear morning, our inability to make water and the residual effects of the beans, coupled with the frigid temps rapidly led to a hasty retreat back to the car.  The day after our attempt the winds picked up and proceeded to make ski mountaineering a less than desirable option.  In an attempt to redeem myself I figured I would switch sports and try some climbing.  With the freezing temps WA had been experiencing for the last week it seamed that some ice had to be in shape somewhere.  

Kurt Hicks, a long time friend, suggested taking a look at Drury Falls in Leavenworth.  Some friends of his in Leavenworth had climbed it recently and said it was in relatively good conditions.  So I packed up the car and drove east.  As we passed Drury falls on the way into town it appeared we had made the right call.
The route from Hwy 2.
Excited that the route appeared to be in good conditions we finished the drive to town and proceeded to track down a boat that we would need the next morning as one must cross the Wenatchee River to get to the falls.  Given the length of the route, we figured we would be coming down in the dark regardless of what time we embarked.  As we had to cross a river in the morning in a craft that was barely large enough for two, we decided we would get a relatively late start and meet at nine.  The crossing proved to be difficult as the low temps had caused a good portion of the river to freeze. This forced us to start on the ice, transition to open water, and then transition back to ice on the opposite shore.  It was exciting.
Kurt and Blake pulling themselves out to open water in our trusty rowboat.
Once across the river, two hours of hiking saw us to the base of the route. Before the main falls start there are several approach pitches.  While they were relatively low angle they still require ice tools and a decent amount of caution, a slip here while not fatal would definitely be a show stopper.
Approaching the main falls
After we were through the low angle approach ice we put the rope on and started climbing.  There were many pitches of moderate ice climbing that led the the final tier. 
Pitch 1 Photo-Kurt Hicks
Mid-height in the route,
Finally we reached the top tier of the climb which proved to have the hardest climbing.  I led up to the crux and built a belay below it.  It looked hard especially given it was our first day out.  Despite the early season and not having swung his tools in over a year Kurt was able to make it happen in great style.  
The crux was below the upper pillar.  Its longer than it looks in the photo.
Once we topped out it was almost dark.  We put the headlamps on and started the long descent. 
Nighttime rapping Photo-Kurt Hicks
Several rappels, a long walk, and a cold boat ride saw us back to the car around ten pm.  While WA ice isn't always in, when it is, it's pretty good.

--Dustin Byrne, Instructor and Guide


doug said...

That's some good looking ice, Dustin. Thanks again for co-leading a great climb on the north face of Baker early July this year. That was a great experience and I enjoyed your weird riddles on the way down.

doug said...

That looks like some good ice Dustin. Thanks again for co-leading a great climb up the north face of Baker early July this year. It was a good experience and I enjoyed your weird riddles on the way down.