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TR - Snow Lake Ice Climbs, Documenting.

Tom Beirne

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This TR is from March 2022. But it looks "in" right now (15FEB23) insofar as cascades go. I spent a few months attempting to reset my cc password then forgot about it. Use it or lose it I guess. Here’s the dirt.

Kurt Ross, Tucker Merrill and Tom climbed a flow on the far west aspect of snow lake (Snow Lake West) for two pitches (WI3+ and WI4+), looked at Steppenwolf above us, then rapped 60m (on doubles) to walk down the steep gully back to snow lake. March conditions provided anemic looking ice enroute and some instability in the snow. 

P1 WI3,30m? was delam’d in places, moated from the rock lower down, and flowing slightly. Tuck took this opportunity to sing Pat Benatar lyrics to us while cruising up and right to a ledge belay (C4 #2, blue totem).

P2 WI4, 40m? Steller with a tree belay after the lip. Kurt walked up this using his single position grivel tools, showcasing the limits of skill over gear. A hot few months post-operation on my elbows, I was grimacing the entire way.

Topside we discover the absence of head-lamps and start rapping before a thick fog descends upon us. Before rappelling from a tree and walking down the steep gulley, we note the perfect condition of the lines above us: Dracula, Son of Drac, Steppenwolf, Squeeze Play, Vertigo, and whatever else is up there.

Is it an FA? Probably not. But we’re calling it "Snow Lake West" as a reference point, pending any other information popping up.

I’ve compiled most Snow Lake Ice routes on CC below; if you know of any lines not represented here please comment with source.

Below: Kurt sizes up the proposed line.



Tuck on p2:


This shot is upper snow lake zone. The left side you can see steppenwolf. Dracula, Son of Dracula and Squeeze play should be on the right side of the arete, but doesn’t appear formed in this photo. Coldiron and friend put up a mixed line in the middle (right side of and leads to snow ledge). Not sure what the rest of the flows are, but according to legend, everything in the cascades has been climbed. I disagree with this for mixed lines and believe the alpine barrier has been about M5-6 until recently. Yes I am aware of Roger’s lines, but those are data outliers, an anomaly of the 2000’s and I've referred his case to Scully and Mulder.

Upper Tier of Snow Lake:

Steppenwolf WI3 (J Street 2011)


Dracula (below) / Son of Dracula / Squeeze Play (right of circle around arete, WI4-M3 Street 2011)


Squeeze Play WI4 (Street 2011) middle left flow below


Matt ? and Jeff Street, “Vertigo” WI3


And Coldiron Line (2011) - same elevation as steppenwolfe and dracula, maybe 200’ right. 



Snow Lake Ice - starts at snow lake.

Oompa Loompa, WI3 (2009) 


Slot Machine 25m WI5 (2011, Street)



Gambler's Fallacy, WI4+ M6+ (2023, Tom Beirne & Priti Wright)


Right side line, follows the corner through two roofs, tops out via steep snow to a high tree. Photo is damn deceptive, I wouldn't have tried the line if I knew how steep the snow was.



Edited by Tom Beirne
update link for new line
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Climbed the direct approach below Steppenwolf. This is a transient climb, so not sure if anyone has done it yet so i'm going to call it Wolf's Lair because folks huddled in the cave below while I did it. 

Variable ice conditions and surprisingly vertical, I'd say WI4 at the time! 


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N. Chair released this avy on or around 3/15, natural release 4-5' crown and 300m wide. Just keep that in mind when dropping in for this area. We bailed for cross loaded slopes a few weeks prior.  Great job getting out and getting after it y'all! Photo from NWAC, courtesy Trevor Kostanich. 

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