Ice climbing 2011: Banks Lake, WA.
Banks lake is so under the radar. The season is usually short, but on occasion the great climbs form up nicely. I have been climbing here since the beginning, and every year since. In six years I had climbed nearly all of the frozen drips I had dreamed possible. But the awesome thing about ice climbing is that the climbs change every year and new ones pop up where you thought they never would. I once had a partner/mentor give me sound advice about the formation of frozen water falls. Explaining that there must be a combination of: water feed from snow or another source, freezing temperatures, thawing temperatures, and all of this with the magical ingredient – Time. But, every year I am surprised by the unpredictability of these things. This year, the sure-thing climbs that always form up at Banks Lake didn’t. There just wasn’t enough snow on the ground to feed the drips. But what blew my mind was the two big ones (The cable WI5+ and Zenith WI6+) formed to the ground. I had never seen the cable reach so close. And in a year when not 5 climbs formed for more than 3weeks.
I only top roped The cable, but it proved as long and sustained as it always appeared. Craig Pope lead Zenith in crazy conditions and it was amazing to follow. The climb was so chandaleer’ed at the middle pillar that it should get a mixed rating – Craig used a .75 camalot in a basalt pocket 20 ft. run-out, and the first 30 ft. of the climb would not take protection. The uniquely talented climbing photographer Ben Herndon was able to take some amazing photos as usual. I was very happy to finally be on both of these beautiful ice climbs.