Climbing the Great White Icicle

Kai leading the 5th pitch.
Kai leading the 5th pitch.

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.

Me leading the 2nd pitch.
Me leading the 2nd pitch.

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 enjoying the view from the top of the 2nd pitch, the Balcony.
Kai enjoying the view from the top of the 2nd pitch, the Balcony.
Kai at the Balcony
Kai at the Balcony
The belay station at the top of the 2nd pitch, 2 bolts in the rock wall.
The belay station at the top of the 2nd pitch, 2 bolts in the rock wall.
The upper pitches from the Balcony.
The upper pitches from the Balcony; they are steeper and longer than they look.

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.

Kai on the third "Bulge" pitch.
Kai on the third “Bulge” pitch.
Kai nearing the top of the third pitch.
Kai nearing the top of the third pitch; the belay is off to the right against the rock wall.
Coming up over the bulge on the third pitch.
Coming up over the bulge on the third pitch.
Following on the third pitch. Climbers visible below are on the Balcony (top of the 2nd pitch).
Following on the third pitch. Climbers visible below are on the Balcony (top of the 2nd pitch).
Me near the top of the third pitch.
Me near the top of the third pitch.

I then led the fourth pitch up moderate ice to a gully between the final ice fall and a rock wall.

Me leading the fourth pitch.
Me leading the fourth pitch.
On the fourth pitch.
On the fourth pitch.

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.

Kai leading up the the crux pillar on the fifth pitch.
Kai leading up the to crux pillar on the fifth pitch.
Last pitch.
Last pitch.
Topping out.
Topping out.

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.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s