Monday, March 23, 2009

Guler Ice Cave

We were looking for something fun to do for the wet weekend. Wendi suggested exploring an ice cave she had been eying. She said it was something she had on her tick list of places to find and explore, but had not had the opportunity yet. This was all the convincing I needed (a little hint of adventure with friends! I'm in!!) and I think the same is true for the rest of the crew as well.
None of us really knew what we were going to find. With a little internet research and I was able to come up with some idea of what we could to expect. I was looking forward to what we would find (giant icicles, and crystal clear ice castles). Sunday morning we (Wendi, Jodie, Greg, and I) met at Wendi's place, loaded up Greg's explorer and we were off to find the Guler Ice Cave.
The drive out to Trout Lake, WA was about 2hours. When we reached the end of the road we found out that we needed a 'Snow Park Pass' unfortunately the Ranger station was closed, and the Trout Lake Store was sold out of day passes, so we got ticketed $75 (lame). The good news is that we caught the ranger as he was writing the ticket and he told us we could buy a pass for the day and fax it along with the ticket to him and he would wave the ticket. He also told us that it was cheaper to by the Snow park Passes in Oregon anyway ($11 in WA, $3.75 in OR for the same thing?).
Anyway, back to the good stuff...We still had about a mile to hike in the snow to get to the cave. Luckily we brought along our snowshoes. Making short work of the mile we soon reached the cave. The cave is well marked and easy to find, unlike many of the other caves that dot the landscape in this area with their locations kept as guarded secrets.
We enjoyed a quick bite of lunch before dawning our helmets and making our way into the dark and very slippery under world of the Guler Ice Cave.
Making our way down the steep snow packed stairs, I thought I had an advantage with my boot chains. I soon found that the ice in the cave was so hard and pure that the chains did nothing for traction.
Slowly and cautiously we mad our way down to the 'Crystal Grotto' stopping along the way for photos.

We all took our turn sliding down the ice slide near the end of the cave (a little tricky getting back up though).
Making our way back, and then continuing down the into the other end of the cave. It was just awesome to look at the many ice formations in this cave.

As we came around the corner we could see the light of day ahead. Greg whispered back to the rest of us to be quiet and move slowly... What was it that Greg seen ahead in the cave? Oh no!! Could it be... the legendary "Rabbit of Canerbannog"?
'*psycho* Bunny' pic courtesy of Wendi

"I warned you, but did you listen? Oh no you didn't, did you..." "Run away, run away, run away..." Oh, sorry about that, I got a little carried away with the Monty Python reference (I couldn't resist)...

We exited the cave behind the *evil* bunny, up and out on the snow that had filled in the skylight in the cave. Do to the features listed on the cave map, I think there might be more cave to explore buried behind the snow that had filled in at this skylight. We'll have to go back sometime later in the spring or early summer and see if I'm correct. Maybe we can find and explore some of the other many caves in the area.
When we got back to the car is when we found the ranger writing us the ticket. The ranger was very nice and understanding, but he all ready made out the ticket. So he told us how to get the ticket dropped.

We made our way back to Wendi's place where she has a delicious pot roast and fixings waiting for us in the crock pot. After we unloaded our gear we threw in a terrible, yet entertaining movie from the 60's and enjoyed a laugh or two with dinner. We finished off dinner with desert, a little crème brûlée (yes, I did just spent 20min trying to find spelling for "crème brûlée"). To wrap up the day, we enjoyed a relaxing dip in the hot tub. Recalling the days adventures, and making plans for other potential adventures in the future.

Have fun, stay safe, and never stop exploring!!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Sunriver, Climbing at Smith, Snowshoeing, and more...

I've been on a bit of a dry spell with my blog posts lately, but spring is just around the corner hopefully that will change. Last weekend we took a chance on the weather and planed an early trip to Smith Rock. With the weather being kinda iffy, Greg made arrangements for us to use his family's Sunriver house. A warm house in Sunriver is so much better than freezing our butts off camping at the 'grass lands' in February. This also better positioned us to go play in the snow up at Mt Bachelor if the weather didn’t cooperate for climbing.

Our group must all think alike, because between the six of us we ended up with eight bottles of wine to go with our Saturday night spaghetti dinner we had planed. After a good laugh at having more wine than people, we opened a bottle and jumped in the hot tub to relax.

8 bottles x 6 people you do the math (no we did not drink all 8 bottles)

Saturday we got up and checked the weather at Smith. It looked cold, but if we wanted to climb this was our best chance. The temp was 31F with a forecast of highs around 48-50F, cloudy, 10% precipitation.

Max squeezing under the fence at Smith.

We got to Smith Rock around 10:30-11am. The temp was still cold, about 33-35F, but we marched on. Greg threw a rope up on ‘Nine Gallon Buckets (5.9)’, stopping at the top of the first pitch due to the lack of feeling in his fingers from the cold rock. I scrambled up ‘Nine Gallon Buckets (5.9)’ after Greg, as Jodie, Jeremy, and Wendi moved on down to ‘Bunny Face (5.7)’ for a little easier warm up.

I tied in and started my climb up ‘Nine Gallon Buckets (5.9)’. About 3-4 moves into it, my fingers were frozen to the bone. It’s an unnerving feeling to know you have a hold of the rock, but you can’t feel the rock that you have a hold of. I quickly pulled through the rest of the climb and lowered off. As Kristin started up the climb, I packed up my gear and headed on down the trail in hopes of thawing back out and catch up with Jodie, Jeremy and Wendi.

Wendi climbing 'Helium Woman (5.9)'

Jeremy had just finished putting up ‘Bunny Face (5.7)’ and Wendi was up, then Jodie. I went up ‘Bunny Face (5.7)’ last in order to work on my skills of cleaning a route. I still have a mental block about hanging out at the top of a pitch for to long. With the added thought that I’m up there by myself, with little to no safety/support from my crew ground, it becomes a battle of the mind. It stems mainly from my fear of heights, I think. I know what you are thinking…”how can someone enjoy climbing but be afraid of heights.” Well, I think it has to be the challenge of getting passed the fear and mental blocks.

Greg putting up 'Captain Xenolith (5.10a)'

Anyway…while I was up top ‘Bunny Face (5.7)’ Jeremy put up ‘Helium Woman (5.9)’ and Greg put up ‘Captain Xenolith (5.10a)’. Greg and Kristin then moved over to climb both pitches of ‘Ancylostoma (5.9)’. It really doesn’t sound like we climbed all that much, but I think the cold weather kinda wore us out early. It was all good though, I think we all felt good about our day of climbing.

Wendi and Greg in a race to the top.

Calling the day early, left us with time to stop off at the Deschutes Brewery for a tour. The tour was really interesting and fun. After the tour we headed back to the Sunriver house where Greg and I split some wood per his dad’s request, while everyone else worked on an excellent spaghetti dinner. After dinner we watched a little ‘Blazing Saddles’ while enjoying some of Wendi’s awesome brownies and ice cream (best brownies ever!!)


Sunday morning we woke up to rain. Jeremy brought his bike and had plans to ride the Deschutes River Trail, Greg and Kristin had plans to go skiing and Jodie, Wendi, and I had our snowshoes and thought we would stomp around Dutchman Flat for awhile. After an afternoon of tromping around in the snow we headed back to the house for a soak in the hot tub before packing up to come back to reality.

One pooped puppy

Once again another great adventure and I look forward to the next. Until next time…have fun, be safe, and enjoy life.