Ice Climbing in the South Fork

January 24, 2014 - 5:43am

As has become a tradition for me in the past several years, I spent my Christmas winter camping and ice climbing in Cody, WY.  This year I was especially stoked to be there for two reasons.  First, the ice climbing conditions were incredible, as the wet fall resulted in more groundwater and hence more ice than pretty much any time in the past decade.  Secondly, I am back east for this winter so I was eager to get back into the bigger and more secluded wilderness of Wyoming.  

I met up with my cousin, Aaron, in Colorado and we drove north to the South Fork Valley where all the ice is.  I had be almost religiously checking the conditions reports and it all looked so good.  I knew that 5 days wasn't going to be enough, but that's as long as we had.  We had to shorten our wish list for routes, but with so many climbs that only form every 3-5 years in fat condition we had some good ones in mind. We camped in the same spot as last year and it felt to great to be back. 
The first day took us to the Cabin Creek drainage and a four pitch WI4.  This was a great route to get familiar with climbing in the South Fork.  Its not so much the climbing that one has to get used to in Cody, but the approaches to the climbs.  Always longer than expected and with about 100% more scrambling and sketchiness that anticipated as well!
Once we were reacquainted with style of the South Fork, we started ticking of classics.  We climbed The Moratorium and Sendro Illuminoso, but classic climbs that were in fat this winter.  This was my third trip to Cody for ice climbing and the first that both those climbs were in.  Like I said, I wish we had more than 5 days!  Conditions were amazing!
The beauty of a place like Cody is that no matter how many times you go there, different climbs form every year.  While I have now climbed a good handful of the classic routes there, I know that I could come back for years and years to come and still be able to climb new routes.  I must say that looking up at some of the prominent ice lines and knowing I had climbed them in years past was very gratifying though!  I can't wait to continue the tradition next Christmas!