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Day 5 came through the night like a flash pump and no rest was in sight. Our other comrade Stephen Berwanger left but Tanner Calender and I were ready to rally another day. Temps were forecasted to hit 60 degrees so we knew we had to climb something in the shade. I had spotted a faint line in the distance on the drive up the valley a couple days prior so we figured we would give it a go.

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Right out of the car the temps felt a bit warm, but we were psyched to top off the epic last few climbing days with another First Ascent. As the sliver of ice began to come into view, you could literally see the wet spots around the ice which is always a bad sign. Luckily we had our bright colors on as we hiked up a ridge line and startled a few hunters hiding in the timber on a ridge line. They were super nice guys and I felt very bad that we hiked right up on them, but they were psyched to chat and thought we were crazy. The one guy said “it looks like its melting” ummm well maybe.  I think we provided them some good entertainment through the day while scratching our way up the ice.

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Well Tanner its gonna be some soft sticks on the way up

Well Tanner its gonna be some soft sticks on the way up

Tanner and I tried to convince each other it looked totally safe and its probably much fatter then it looks. Both of us were secretly trying to psyche up the other to take the lead, but I’m not sure either of us were buying the others bull shit.

Aaron Mulkey trying to move fast as possible before the ice melts literally beneath his feet.

Aaron Mulkey trying to move fast as possible before the ice melts literally beneath his feet.

Well Tanner was smarter then me and wanted nothing to do with the pitch so I visualized fat sticky ice and good gear and decided to go for it.

Mulkey hoping the curtain of ice holds his weight

Mulkey hoping the curtain of ice holds his weight

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Once through the curtain the ice got a bit thicker, but so far not enough to take a full short screw. Needless to say the ice was sticky, but mostly delaminated. I quickly began to run out of 70m of rope and found myself at the base of the top pillar. Lucky for me I was able to sling a column of ice and found two cam placements to create an anchor.

Tanner grabbing the self cleaning screws

Tanner grabbing the self cleaning screws

I enjoyed the best ice climbing belay seat ever. It was the perfect height and optimal backrest with an incredible view.

Tanner taking it to the top and enjoying the thicker ice on the 2nd pitch

Tanner taking it to the top and enjoying the thicker ice on the 2nd pitch

After the pillar the route begins to kick back into a thin vein of ice for another 40m of climbing. Tanner and I were pretty psyched to nab another route, but unfortunately this one didn’t stick around long enough for a second ascent.

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On the hike out we looked back and realized we totally got away with murder on this route as it continued to melt away. By the time we got back to the car we were in our t-shirts sitting on the tail gate drinking beer and margaritas laughing about the last few days. We felt like pirates preying on the valleys treasures.