On Valentine’s Day, 2014, I finally completed my sport mixed magnum opus in The Fang Amphitheater in East Vail: The Mustang (M14-), which is essentially a combination of Stratofortress (M13+) and the roof section of The Lightning (M13+) to create a 60 meter monster sport mixed pitch including a 30 meter section of horizontal roof which traverses the full span from Reptile to Amphibian.
Basically, I have done four new routes/link-ups this year in East Vail. In November, training for the competition in Bozeman, I climbed Superfortress (M13) which I had started working on last year. This line climbs the first pitch of Amphibian (p1 M8), continues up Red Beard (M12) past a six foot dead point to the lip of the roof and turns left along the lip of the roof crossing The Flying Fortress (M13), Red Bull and Vodka (M11) and King Cobra (M11-) and finishes up The Fang. The crux move involves a powerful full-extension release downward onto a figure-4. Also, there is a large iron cross move between Red Bull and Vodka and King Cobra from a good hold to a single-tooth hook in a crack. The route is 40 meters of climbing. As such, an 80 meter rope is required to lower off unless one pulls the rope through and lowers the 35 meters straight down from the top of The Fang, in which case a 70 meter rope is required.
Next, after sending all three competition routes in Bozeman and taking third on time at the North American Ice Climbing Championships behind my friends Janez Svoljsak and Will Gadd, I was training for the competition at the Ouray Ice Climbing Festival. I set and climbed Stratofortress (M13) in December, 2013. This line climbs The Seventh Tentacle to the top of the ice at the beginning of the Reptile, starts out the roof on Reptile and continues along the roof on new terrain where Reptile heads upward. Fifteen meters of new terrain are protected by four new bolts and is covered with eight large moves, two of which are substantial reaches between small hooks, to traverse behind The Fang, join King Cobra (M11) and join The Fang to the top. This line is about 45 meters of climbing, 35 meters to lower (i.e., 80 meter rope is required to lower unless one pulls the rope through in which case a 70 meter rope is necessary).
Next, after sending the route and taking third on time in the Ouray Ice Festival Competition in early January, 2014 behind my friends Jeff Mercier and Mauro Dorigatti, I had run out of competitions to train for, but I wanted to finish the king link this season, so I climbed The Lightning (M13+). This line starts up King Cobra (M11-), through its crux and then heads right across Red Bull and Vodka (M11), The Flying Fortress (M13), Red Beard (M12) and continues rightward to Amphibian (M9) and the thin ice smears above to the anchor above The Flying Fortress. This line, though bearing a shorter roof than Stratofortress, has a more powerful crux, the crux of Superfortress in reverse, so rather than a powerful full-extension release downward onto a figure-4, it involves a full-extension swinging dead point from a figure-9 to a single-tooth hook. This line is also 45 meters of climbing, see above for lowering beta.
The Mustang (M14-), as indicated above, is the link-up of the link-ups Stratofortress and The Lightning – start up The Seventh Tentacle, start out Reptile, and keep on trucking all the way across the 30 meter roof to Amphibian, finish up the unprotected smears of ice above and step back left to the anchor atop The Flying Fortress. The pitch is 60 meters in length. Unless one is using a 100 meter rope, one must pull the rope through and then be lowered the 35 meters to the deck.
It has been a good season for me. I feel as though we have maximized the training potential in East Vail, making harder routes, making it less likely that we will melt off our tools when the routes are traditional and alpine, and maximize the utility and enjoyability of an area which is ideally suited to the sport mixed training game. Now it is nearly time to apply the fitness garnered clipping bolts in the mountains of the Alps.
Thanks to Kelli Rayburn, David Roetzel, Eric Malmgren, Ben Collett, Ryan Vachon, Hayden Kennedy, Lindsay Fixmer and Rob Cotter for helping me work on these routes! I couldn’t have done it without you!