We left on Christmas day (never a good idea because there isn’t anywhere to eat), and spent the next 9 days exploring/ice climbing in Hyalite Canyon, near Bozeman, MT. What an adventure it was. This was my first time ice climbing and Titus’s first, and hopefully only, time in record -35 degrees F temperatures. The coldest we climbed in was -7. The other days we spent at Yellowstone, where we rode snowmobiles to Old Faithful at -20.
Titus, however, did awesome in the snow. His ice tires held strong and we only had to use chains once. But, it wasn’t just him sliding!
We arrived at Bozeman on Friday where I practiced axing it up….and proceeded to do my first waterfall on Saturday. This is the day we also watched a self proclaimed “very seasoned” climber rappel off the end of his rope 35 ft, flip off of a snow ledge half way down, and land safely on his feet in two feet of powder three feet in front of Daniel. After a few minutes of making sure he was ok, and talking things over, Daniel made the rhetorical suggestion: “Maybe this is a good reminder to tie knots in the end of our ropes for rappel.” The “experienced” guy’s response: “I don’t really believe in that.” Okay, guy, you should have just died…but you got lucky…let’s go climb somewhere else (Lets not forget to tie knots in the end of our ropes!)
Now to all of the “hardcorians” out there…I’m sorry, but -7 is cold! To be honest, we didn’t get many routes done because I was slow…layers, pants, gators, crampons, and packs. Hiking to the falls, adding one of your ten puffies and changing one of your twenty pairs of gloves just to stay warm. Then, wrestling with your harness through gloves that could be worn on Denali, and finally trying to warm up to climb. I have a new respect for Alpinists. I think next time around I can conquer getting ready in under 4 hours.
After a few days of climbing and temperatures well into sub-freezing, we headed to Yellowstone because there was a “cold front” coming…colder than -7. We used the company “Yellowstone Adventures” to get a guided snowmobile tour through Yellowstone. It was fantastic. We also went to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. I would recommend this to anyone traveling to West Yellowstone. The night we stayed in West Yellowstone, we drove to a hotel that was closed for the season and plugged into their outlets to charge the batteries and got ready for a very cold night. (-29 was the coldest the dashboard registered).
We then drove back to Bozeman and finished our last couple of days climbing in the canyon with temperatures that made climbing more than bearable.
Now for the van. It was well insulated, but the floor was freezing. (I guess we need to insulate that too). We used the Mr. Heater Little Buddy, a ‘”safe inside” tent/camping propane heater…but no worries, we read many reviews and also had a smoke/co detector in the van with cracked windows. It gave us about 6 hours of heat before it needed to be changed. Keeping everything dry was also another huge problem. Snow is wet. 😉 We often left the van running with the heat on high while we were at dinner. We also used a painters extension pole from home depot to suspend our ropes and harnesses in the air to dry out. Last, but not least, we ran a dehumidifier the entire time. It’s the “Eva Dry Electric Petite Dehumidifier.”
There were so many times things were hanging all over the van. You’d turn around to a bouquet of gloves drying out on a hanger. At other times, you’d turn to get a gator in the mouth. But the system worked!
Someday, I’ll take some better pictures so the lighting will be a little better and the images won’t look so grainy…but this is what you get for now.