Smear of Fear

One benefit of the 2013 flood: fat ice in the mountains!

ice in the clouds

Word got around quickly here on the Front Range. Local superhero Topher Donahue was ahead of the curve on September 30th, hiking up to Long’s Peak to nab an early season ascent of the Smear of Fear. In a blog post, he lamented the fact that, adding insult to the injury of the flood, the Government Shutdown would prevent climbers from enjoying the one benefit of our historically wet season.

Some daring climbers ran the blockade and climbed anyway, but rumors quickly spread of aggressive rangers camped out on the trail, looking to bust climbers. In addition to the normal risks of winter climbing, the prospect of Federal trespassing charges dissuaded most.

Men with guns don't want you to climb. (Photo By Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

Men with guns don’t want you to climb. (Photo By Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

So, when the Colorado state government put up the cash ($40k/day!!) to reopen the park, Front Range ice climbers quickly sharpened their tools.

all mtn

Yesterday, Rob Coppolillo and I hiked up to climb the Smear. One of the most ephemeral, and notorious, ice climbs on the Front Range, the Smear follows a thin ribbon of ice plastered to blank granite on the Lower East Face of Long’s Peak.

Rob approaching. The Smear of Fear is the leftmost of the prominent ice lines.

Rob approaching. The Smear of Fear is the leftmost of the prominent ice lines.

A huge spindrift avalanche sweeps the Lower East Face. We were blasted all day by these harmless, but scary, deluges.

A huge spindrift avalanche sweeps the Lower East Face. We were blasted all day by these harmless, but scary, deluges.

We managed to climb the first three pitches, including the crux WI5 R pitches, but bailed below the final WI4 pitch as darkness encroached. The leads were at the limit of my comfort zone, with the ice often too thin to accept screws. That, combined with our leisurely late start, left us hiking out in the dark.

Rob at the base.

Rob at the base.

Rob leading the first pitch.

Rob leading the first pitch.

pitch 1

Another of P1, ‘cuz it’s so pretty!

pitch 2

Me leading the crux second pitch.

Hanging belay atop P2.

Hanging belay atop P2.

Rob following P3.

Rob following P3.

Rapping

Rapping

Selfy while rappeling

Selfy while rappeling

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One Response to Smear of Fear

  1. Tina Keshishian says:

    Whoa! Looks cold from a Floridan. Stay warm and safe!

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