Banks Lake Ice Climbing

December 8th, 2006

Marcus, Pax and I headed out to the Soap/Banks lakes area Friday for some ice. Conditions had been cold for about two weeks, and most major climbs that were shaded by the sun were huge. Many climbs that the guidebook mentions as rare, like Miller Time and Soap Lake A, were in as well. The other beer climbs looked pretty thin as they were getting some sun. We were headed for Champagne, a long 2-3 pitch climb tucked back in a little canyon. We we saw it from the road, we were blown away. Close access and a steep beautiful line.

Pax approaching Champagne's first pitch (WI4+).

Dave starting the first pitch. Photo: Pax

Good ice took me up to the first major ledge where I got a rest in the dripping shower on the right side. Very quickly I was soaked all the way through my clothes. I moved left, sunk a good screw and started up. The ice was slushy and wet here as well, and I wasn't feeling good about the next 50 ft of steep ice (the crux of the route too). I lowered off and gave it to Pax who styled it.

Pax eats up the leftovers.

Pax belayed on the ledge at mid-height and brought Marcus and I up. It was wet and wild fun. Thankfully the belay was dry. I took the last 100 ft which start out up a steep pillar with stems to the right. I soon pulled onto the face of it and after 10 feet or so the angle relaxed and I romped up the beautiful and narrowing flow. Rad.

Dave starting the 2nd pitch. Photo: Pax

Champagne's second teir, suffering from the sun.

Getting late, time for one close to the road.

Marcus leading Trotsky's Folly in lean conditions (WI4).

Marcus tried leading Trotskys Folly in super steep conditions, but after running out of arms half way up the pillar he handed the lead to Pax "Sloppy Seconds" Fox who finished it by headlamp. The ice skating below the climb was superb. Friends Matt and Kurt showed up from Spokane and we handed them the climb so they could get some laps in the dark. Truly showing the character of a Washington Ice climber: get it while it's good. For us, it was off to Mexican food!

Eat that taco, gangsta!

Thanks for another great day in the hills guys.

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