OK, secretís out... everyone loves LHMW... I heard 3+ parties on it today (and our very own Admin Al) while enjoying some excellent ice just to the right. This slab is not even listed in the guidebook, but after climbing it for a 2nd time, and climbing LHMW 4 or 5 times, I really think this un-named slab is better. Itís a 200 foot stretcher, 3-, and is fed directly from The Cleft making linking the two a very natural line up the east side of Willard. You can see it in relation to LHMW which is on the far left in this photo, and the slab is dead center with The Cleft directly above:
It can be broken into 2 pitches, or you can stretch the rope and do it in one long pitch (belayer might need to start climbing for a few feet). From the end of the slab you can solo, simul-climb, short-rope, or do what ever is reasonable to get to the cleft. Currently it is pretty easy firm snow climbing with two optional bulges of ice just below the Cleft. Since a fall close to the slab could send you flying we stayed roped and short-roped around the two ice bulges to get to the proper start of the Cleft, but many would feel comfortable soloing up to the Cleft. YMMV.
The Cleft BTW is perfect right now with zero snow and plastic ice, with a very easy walk out to the trail. The trail it self is a bit rough with bullet proof ice in spots. I was wishing for Microspikes on the hike down as full ice crampons would be over kill, but sections of the hike out were not ďcarefreeĒ.
Full report of the day here: http://davidlottmann.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/ice-climbing-201-4/
Good seeing you Al, did you guys go up Upper Hitchcock? I heard that was pretty plastic over there...