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[TR] Banks Lake, WA - Zenith, Emerald, Cable, Razorblades plus others 03/03/2019

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Trip: Banks Lake, WA - Zenith, Emerald, Cable, Razorblades plus others

Trip Date: 03/03/2019 to 03/14/2019

Trip Report:


With reports of an incredible season at Banks Lake, my partner (Joe Peters) and I decided we needed to get over there.  We drove over on March 3 to find a good place to set up a camp.  Joe had to finish a couple things at work, but my wife Trisha came out to climb for the 1st two days until Joe got back.  Then Joe and I were able to spend another 9 days climbing some of the wildest ice I have ever been on.  Banks lake is that good!!



I didn't list any grades in this trip report.  Banks is a funny place and I found that grades were tricky to judge.  In the end I decided that Wayne Wallace was right when he said..."Grades don't matter, everything here is hard."


We camped in Joe's tipi tent which is pretty luxurious complete with stove for heat and drying gear.  The best spot we found to camp was right across from Salt and Pepper.  Camping limit is 15 days, it was free, and there was a toilet.  We were able to sit in camp and stare up at Salt and Pepper every evening. 


Evening light in our camp.



The view of Salt and Pepper from camp. (photo credit Joe Peters)



Living it up inside the tipi.  With that stove we could be sitting around in a t-shirt.  It was absolutely essential for drying out boots and other wet gear after climbing every day.


Here is a brief overview of our trip.
3/4 - Peewees #2, 3, 4, 6, and 7
3/5 - Climb below Emerald, Trotsky's Folly and Trotsky's Revenge (also called Phase Transition)
3/6 - Peewees #1 and 5
3/7 - The Emerald and Satan's Panties (also called Absent Minded Professor)
3/8 - Tea 'n' the Sahara
3/9 - The Cable and H2O2
3/10 - Unnamed climb in Moses Coulee
3/11 - Stairway to Heaven (our name for the climb across Banks lake at MP3)
3/12 - Shitting Razorblades
3/13 - Salt and Pepper
3/14 - Zenith

I will just let the pictures tell the rest of story with a few captions.


Peewee's Playground.  I referenced these from right to left starting with 1 and ending with 8.



Me leading Peewee #4 on the 1st day.  A great place to start getting used to Banks ice! (photo credit Trisha Thorman)



Craig Pope had just put up this line which he thought was probably an FA.  It transitioned from the ice through the rock and out to the hanging dagger.  It is Peewee #2 and he named it Turn the Page.  This is a couple guys from MT climbing it on TR in the beautiful afternoon sun.



The next day Trisha and I climbed this little flow.  It was fantastic steep climbing that eased off about half way up.  It is right off the road at the Emerald Pullout.  It is amazing to me that there are so many of these lines that don't have names.  Anywhere else and these good pitches of ice would all be named!



Trisha doing a TR lap on Trotsky's Revenge.



Day 3 Trisha headed back home and Joe arrived.  Here Joe is arriving at the top of the fantastic Peewee #1.  



This is Satan's Panties (also called Absent Minded Professor).  Rumor is that it hasn't come in for multiple years.  It was a really fun multi-tiered climb that was a great warmup for the bigger climbs at Banks.



The Emerald sits tucked up in a small valley above the main Banks Lake proper.  It was a fantastic steep pitch of excellent climbing.  It even faced north so it didn't get any sun to ruin the ice!



Me leading the Emerald. (photo credit Joe Peters)



Joe topping out on the Emerald at the end of a great day!



With a cloudy day we decided to brave the lake and head across for some of the bigger lines. Thankfully the lake ice was thick and solid with no noises.  The climb directly above me is Tea 'n' the Sahara.  The one to my right is unknown.....it never came in this year unfortunately (or at least the dagger never touched down). (Photo credit Joe Peters).



A closer view of Tea 'n' the Sahara.  This was definitely my favorite climb of the trip.  It consisted of 4 steep pitches each about 90-120 feet in length.  The ice was typical Banks with plenty of excavating but the position and length of the climbing make it a classic for sure.



Joe climbing the final steep 4th pitch.



Looking back up at pitch 4 of Tea 'n' the Sahara from rappel.  We were able to rappel the entire route with 2 rope stretching 70m rappels......take 70m ropes! (photo credit Joe Peters)



The Cable....it is such an amazing, steep, crazy, gymnastic, different route.  An absolute must do at Banks.  Here Brian Williams is a little past halfway up the long pitch.



Me leading the Cable.  It is so good......just go do it!  (photo credit Joe Peters)



The Cable in the setting sun.



Next we went to climb H2O2.  Here are a couple of unknown climbers on it the night before.



Yet another great pitch of climbing right next to the road.  Here Joe is putting up H2O2 in the evening sun.



The following day we drove over to Moses Coulee.  Unfortunately Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were pretty wrecked by the sun.  This is an unnamed climb on the same road about 1/2 mile before Butch Cassidy.  



Looking up at the Unnamed route was awe inspiring.  There were so many hanging daggers through the steep upper roofs.  I gave it a go on lead but ended up sitting on a screw in the roof.  I found out I wasn't fit enough to lock off on a tool and clean hanging daggers for that long.  Still an awesome experience!



Me approaching the large ice roof of hanging icicles. (Photo credit Joe Peters)



The next day was cloudy so we headed back across the lake.  This climb is right across from MP3.  It isn't in the WA ice book and nobody seems to know what it is called.  After staring at it disappearing into the fog above we decided to call it Stairway to Heaven.  



Here is Joe leading up Stairway to Heaven.



The next day was time to get on Razorblades.  This is a climb that had been on my list to do for a while and it didn't disappoint.  Some years the first pitch isn't in or so thin that you can't protect it well.  This year it was fat!



Me leading up the crux first pitch of Razorblades.  I don't think I have ever climbed ice by pulling on ice mushrooms with my hands instead of swinging my tools into the ice....fun but funky!  (Photo credit Joe Peters)



Finally after staring at Salt and Pepper every night for a week, we decided we needed to go and do it. 



The guidebook made the 1st pitch sound hard and scary.  It climbs the loose rock on the left and traverses up the snow ramp to the ice.  It was loose, but I found a decent pin and a couple cam placements.  You definitely don't need a #3 C4.  I would take a couple of KB pins and a set of cams from BD .3 to #1.  The crux step of rock is easy 5th but it is loose and a fall would be very bad.



Joe climbing up the steep ice of Salt and Pepper.  It was a fantastic climb with big exposure.  This is looking straight down for about 300 feet.



We wrapped up our trip with Zenith.  A fitting end to a fantastic trip.  It was very fat this year but still steep and long! (Photo credit Joe Peters)



Joe and I on Zenith.  Being a roadside crag, many times a few people stop and watch.  Sue Tebow was one such person but she was kind enough to leave us her contact information so we could get a couple pictures she took.  It is always a treat to get both the leader and the follower in the same picture.  Thanks Sue!  (Photo credit Sue Tebow)



A final parting shot of the huge deathcicle above Zenith.  It was so fascinating to look up at but we wasted no time in getting out of there.  It consisted of a thin hollow tube of ice that extended 30 feet or so below the cliff.  Out of the center poured a huge amount of water. (Photo credit Joe Peters)



Gear Notes:
Ice screws and 70m ropes

Approach Notes:
Short and easy unless you are crossing the lake!

Edited by mthorman
spelling errors
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12 hours ago, mthorman said:

Rumor is that it hasn't come in for multiple years. 

I think you can maybe guess why many of the climbs aren't named.  And when they do form, they often fall down just as fast. 

This is an impressive TR, you guys really nailed it.  Almost as impressive as that tipi!

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