Al. Just read your write up on the lake. awesome as always.
thanks for the kind words Nick. coming from you I really appreciate that...
Interesting enough I had been to the lake 3 times, shoestring early season and then again the fist day of freeze after a hard thaw, smuggs as well as a few other local spots this year and had not encountered perma pick and foot holds the whole season. Went to Poco on feb 10th and encountered my first gym climb of the season. It is a completly different game. two trips to cathedral and it was the same scenario. The picked out climbs require a completly different mindset of hooking and balanceing to match up with the proper holds. It is fun interesting climbing but worlds apart from climbing natural ice.
very very different climbing! the closest thing to the Lake I had done all season was Smear one very cold day. there were no pick or screw holds and it was harder than I had ever done it. way harder than the Dracula walk up. that said, Left Tablet was another couple of clicks harder. the ice was hard, inconsistent and very steep AND we went back and forth between kind of pleasant and full conditions, all in 4 hours. on top of that the top out was awkward and absolutely not a breeze.
Left Practice slab is burly:)
you said it - not a "practice slab" at all? [wry grin]
One thing about the lake that is often misunderstood is that the sun is not always your friend there. the climbs can rapidly turn into verticle slush if the temps even get up to 30F hanging belays melt out before the pitch is finished. It can be pretty serious stuff and lots of visitors seem to simply think its 35 and sunny it going to be hero..... 35f and sunny @ the lake is serious russian roulete.... perfect day @ the lake is 15-25f and sunny or 35 and cloudy. Places in the Gent ampetheather can be terrifying and still be in the upper 20's.
mid-March is the time to be up there. cold nights, upper 20's, somewhat sunny days - but not full sun. I've been up there many times when I had to pack slushy ice around the screws to keep them from melting out and could not find good enough ice to use for a v-thread so I had to rap from a single beater 22cm screw while stuff was crashing down on a climb next to us! I'm done up there by the end of March, tho at this rate it may be just a bit later.
another factor is icefall. No pick holes = real dinnerplates free falling 60m on to your belayer....... yet many times you see belayers put in bad places dodging bricks...
I hear you... I honestly didn't get the v-thread right in the middle of the slow last week. don't see how any belayer could not be bombarded...
regardless, I'm heading up there again next Tuesday, weather permitting. there is no place like it other than in the Canadian Rockies. I had forgotten just how great a resource it is, and less than 2 hours form North Conway.