Friday Night Lights
This winter, I have been developing and managing an ice observations page for the Cascades Ice Climbing Community. The submission process is still manual – simply email me and I add the observations. Consequently, I get my hands on a lot of beta and condition reports from a variety of places. I finally made use of this beta by doing a night climbing session at Kiddie Cliff near Alpental.
Unfortunately, I had to get an oral surgery a few weeks ago and was banned from activities for a few weeks. It was frustrating to watch my friends enjoy favorable alpine conditions and climb some awesome lines. So once I was cleared, I made plans with Noah to sneak in some ice cragging before more snow fell. As much as I want to jump back into alpine routes, I know that cragging will help build back my confidence and shake off the rust. I left work Friday afternoon and drove up to Snoqualmie Pass.
Kiddie Cliff is about a 20 minute walk up the exit track from Source Lake. After crossing an open boulder field with cliffs above, it is visible up and to the left. There is substantial avalanche hazard above, so be sure to check conditions.
The ice did not look great for leading, so we climbed steep snow around to the right to reach some tree anchors. Note that if you rappel with a 70m rope from the tree with established tat, you will not reach the bottom. Instead, you should use the lowest tree, which is maybe 20 feet lower.
We rappelled down through the giant snow mushroom and over the left line to set up some top rope laps.
It was getting dark so we pulled out the headlamps and began climbing. The left side was easy for about 20 ft and then steepened for the next 30 ft. While it was not overhung or anything, the ice was very mushroomed and delicate, making for technical movements. My arms felt very weak from two weeks of no weight lifting or exercising.
Noah made good use of his length and demonstrated the abilities he learned climbing in Seward, Alaska, and Minnesota growing up. When it was time to wrap up, he attempted to climb through the overhung snow mushroom. It was basically impossible and he ended up jugging on the rope. I am not sure how someone would lead this!
As we hiked out, we remarked how relaxed our crag session felt for ice climbing in Washington! Night laps after work? It felt like something out of Hyalite or Ouray, but here we were, in Snoqualminix!
- You can lead the right side. Or you can TR either line from the lowest accessible tree with a 70m rope. Leading the left side would be challenging because of the snow mushroom top out.
- Be wary of overhead avalanche hazard.
- Compared to Alpental Falls, this climb is top-ropable, and lower volume flow and shaded, so it probably comes into condition more frequently.