The Great White Icicle (WI3, II, 5 pitches) is a classic ice climb in Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon, just outside Salt Lake City. It is very popular because of its proximity to the city, and because it is a great, moderate multi-pitch ice climb with an alpine feel to it. In past years my climbing partner, Kai, and I have climbed all the way up to the last pitch only to find it melting out with ice falling all over the place. This resulted in very unpleasant rappels down the route (I definitely do not recommend this). Today was perfect. The morning temperatures were probably in the mid twenties when we started and was clear with deep blue skies. And we were above the dreaded inversion.
Kai led the first pitch which consists of a 50′ steepish curtain, then another 100+’ of 45-50 degree snow up to the base of another ice section.
I led the second pitch, a 100′ ice ramp up to a large shelf called the Balcony. We took a short break here and ate some energy bars and drank some water. The ice was in excellent condition and we were having a really good time.
Kai then led the third pitch, called the Bulge. He selected a nice line right up the center of the ice which ramped up to 60-70 degrees. The belay is at the top of this ice section off to the right in a rocky alcove. Most of the belays on this climb are bolted on the rock walls alongside the ice gully.
I then led the fourth pitch up moderate ice to a gully between the final ice fall and a rock wall.
Kai finished the climb up the last pitch. The ice was thin and transparent in places and we could see water rushing underneath. This climb is formed by a small creek that runs down the gully. The last pitch is also the crux with an 80 degree pillar of cauliflowered ice. Because this climb sees so much traffic it was pretty chopped out with lots of steps and places to hook your ice tools, but still challenging enough to keep your attention.
We had a really good time. The ice was excellent and took screws well; the weather was perfect, and we both felt good. We climbed it in a leisurely 5 hours. It can also be done in four pitches but you would probably want a 70 meter rope, or be comfortable simul-climbing a bit. I highly recommend this route.