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[TR] Southern Pickets - Thread of Ice - Twin Needles - FA 6/27/2009


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Trip: Thread of Ice - North side of Twin Needles - Southern Pickets - FA


Date: 6/26-28/2009


Trip Report:

During a north to south traverse of the Picket Range last summer, I was intrigued by a couple of lines on the north side of Twin Needles: the sweeping north ridge and the 1200-ft snow/ice couloir next to it. I later discovered that these two lines were the "Thread of Gneiss" and "Thread of Ice" named by John Roper on his ascent of the Twin Needles in 1981. As far as I know, neither had ever been climbed.


Here is a great photo taken by John Roper in July 1984 of the north side of Twin Needles. The Thread of Gneiss runs up the left ridge, and the Thread of Ice is the central couloir.


Thread of Ice is central couloir:



Wayne Wallace and Mike Layton had attempted the “Thread of Gneiss” in 2007. They had encountered a rotten fault line that was almost impassable, and deemed the buttress not worth the risk. So I turned my attention instead to the steep, skinny, shadowy, snow couloir that snakes its way to Eye Col between the two Needles.


I emailed Wayne Wallace and asked if he was interested.


"Heck, yeah."


So, on June 26, we headed up the Barrier into the Southern Pickets, hoping that the June conditions in the couloir would be a 1200-ft continuous line of steep snow and ice. On June 27, we hit the route under ideal conditions, and had a great first ascent of what turned out to be a pretty cool route.


(Note on conditions: This route is very dependent on conditions. A melt-freeze cycle could result in an amazing water ice route, heavy snows could create the potential for a challenging ski descent, or patchy/nonexistent snow and ice could make the ascent impossible. Under ideal conditions of continuous snow and ice, the route does not pose any major challenges.)


I posted the TR on my website, but can't figure out how to make the html work here. So, until I figure this out, here is the link to the TR:



Below is a video and a couple of photos to give a taste of what is in the TR on my website...

Video taken by Wayne as he climbed up the route:



Steph topping out with the Thread of Ice stretching below:



Wayne on the summit of East Twin Needle:



Looking down at the Thread from the summit of West Twin Needle:






Link to the TR on my website:


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Thanks to all of you inspired by this great tr from Steph! It is great to see it and again enjoy the trip myself.

I'll share a few bits of the different trips and stories from my view and then be on the lookout for the coming trs from this next weekend to come!

The N. Butt. attempt in 2007:

Mike and I were shocked to be so dead-ended on a route when we tried the rock buttress to the left of the gully. A deep and rotten fault running across it from left to right forbid the 2 cocky aspirants further progress. I was totally put off before our high-point, by the chaotic and unnatural climbing, for the 4 pitches leading up to the fault itself. Too bad, you cant get them all..

I had the Thread of Ice route in the far back of my mind, but the chance to climb with one of my favorite photographers was not tot be missed! Ah and a new route possibility too, well-heck-of-course-yeah!

Looking for true adventure? It can be nice to not have the topo and trip report beta all laid out. I did have a hunch it would be a nice line, and it was- the topping off of a great season of ice climbing. We had perfect snow-ice conditions for ease of travel. An easy to swing-into surface was so safe feeling, we put in very little pro, and all of it rock along the side. We coulda put in a sport line of pickets but a screw was not to be had. It curved around a lot so it makes you wonder what is ahead. It narrows nicely at mid height and stays tight all the way up to the top. It starts at 40 then gets gradually steeper and a the top it pushes 60 degrees. We simoed with the occasional lead switch to give the calves a break. The summit horn offered a surprisingly stiff crux for its grade, but climbing it in gloves because the ice coated both side of the hand-jams prolly made it seem worse. Crazy summit, go see for yourself---!!!

Dont be fooled by the sweet smile, Steph is as tough as they come and such a great attitude towards life too. We truly enjoyed the whole weekend except for the complicated descent stress and the rain showers on saturday night (after the route ). We also padded our summit counts by bagging both of the Twin Needles. Rockin good time in the mountains! Thanks to Steph, Mike, John Scurlock, and John Roper for the infinite beta-base, W


On Page 2 of this thread, I just loaded the movie from the trip!

Edited by wayne1112
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