A Precautionary Message

Ice Climbing is extremely dangerous! This blog cannot warn or prepare you for all the hazards that you could experience climbing ice or any other features in the mountains. This blog is only one of the many places where limitless information is available and it certainly is not a substitute for proper training, risk management, judgment, equipment knowledge or wilderness/back country skills. Seek proper training before going ice or rock climbing so that you can stack the odds in your favor. Be safe and have fun out there!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


This is Craig Finn.  He is the lead singer of one of my most favoritest bands, The Hold Steady.  These guys are known for their high tempo, jaw dropping, Springsteen infused high school party anthems.  I took Jess to see them at the Orange Peel in Asheville to a whooping crowd of about...100.  The important part was that we saw Black Diamond athlete and all around rock climbing hard person, Dave Sharrat and his lovely wife Anna at the show proving that The Hold Steady speaks, or rocks, to climbers.  Are you seeing the parallels yet? Ok, Ill keep working on it.

Jon Jones making Linville Gorge his bitch.
Enter ice season 2012-13.  Off to a slow start yes, finishing with a bang? Well hold steady people we are about to find out.   Seems like February has been the month.  Coming off a warm tail end of Jan the cold fronts slamming the mid west are starting to punch WNC in the gut.
Jean Claude Van-Damm getting real. 
Example?  This weekend in Highlands we are looking at a low of 29 on Friday with a High of 42, Sat. low of 23 with a high of 34 and Sunday low of 19 and high of 36.  Sunday would probably be OK and Monday would be even better.  What does this mean for you?  Roll the dice and try Starshine,Cinderella, or Coyote Ugly
Not the Coyote Ugly I had in mind but not a bad alternative if the ice is out. 

 As I type this my friends in the High Country are disowning me because Linville Gorge is the dark horse of NC ice.  Long adventurous days to potentially there ice flows may turn away most but you are guaranteed to get something out of it.  The water tables can be so out of whack there that one day the classics will be out and something obscure will be fat.  Case in point, I walked in to a reliable ice flow with my rope gun Jon Jones, and spotted a flow I had never seen before.  We were so confused that it was in that we decided to pass on it for a more reliable flow.  It ended up being good but on the way out the first one was melting out so we couldn't do it.  Strike while the iron is cold...or something like that.  Linville might be shaping up too.
Friday high 39 low 24,
Sat high 32 low 21
Sunday high 33 low 18.

For a super rad video of ice climbing in the gorge follow the link +Eric Crews 
And for some ice climbing psych watch the video of my favorite party band.

Remember people: Stay Positive and HOLD STEADY!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

5 Things we Learned from Last Years Ice Season

Lets be honest.  Last years ice season was banner, banner for being a terrible disappointment for us Southern ice weirdos.  Al Gore tried to warn us.  In retrospect we did gain some useful knowledge from last seasons wet fest.  Phil Hoffmann is here to break it down.

1. Temperature Inversions.
     These little buggers are not to be trifled with. Here's an example:  I got up at 4am to have a nice half day at the local 215 road cut with my buddy Thad.  You know, living the life, coupla ice pitches before work with a BIG mountain view, inches from the car approach, bomber TR set ups to maximize time, hot coffee, all the good stuff.  I left the house at 5am it was 17 degrees out.  We rolled into Hwy 215 at 6am at 4500 feet and it was 42 degrees!  There has never been a finer acronym than W.T.F.
     These ice ruining weather patterns go like this.
Basically, warm is trapped up high and cooler air gets trapped down low melting all the precious ice up high.  This can be caused by different things, air pollution being one of them and since the Asheville area has some of the worst air pollution around we get to blame it on them. 

2. Be Ready:
     So in the summer its not usually a good idea to keep your rock shoes in the car unless you really love your local resoler.  Same is true with ice boots in the winter. If you keep your ice boots in the car, ready to jump in and blast to the ice route as temperatures plunge, then your feet will feel like this when you slip into your boots. 

This Yeti will crush your ice proj...if he had not kept his ice boots in his car all night.

In the spirt of the SE Alpine start here are a few pointers.
     Pack your bag the night before over a beer or three.  That means, crampons, tools, repair kit, screws, what have you.  Chunk it by the door and have it ready to roll when your damn alarm is screaming at you.  Tell her to go back to sleep and then bounce.
     Do like your mamma told ya in grade school and lay your clothing system out the night before.  This way you can jump in your skivvies and one piece, day glo, 1982 Gore-tex suit and then bounce.
     Pack your lunch the night before over a beer or three and set the coffee machine to super dark auto brew.  This way you can grab the high octane brew and then bounce.  I feel a theme starting.

3. If you Don't Go then you Didn't Try:
    It was so freakin' warm last Winter that these nut jobs were really getting creative.  TYPICALLY we need 3-5 consecutive spans of single digit nights and sub-freezing days for optimum condishies.  Since that never happened the most we could hope for was two consecutive spans.  Even the old stand bys were not coming in  What we learned was that if you...say it with me...don't go then you didn't try.  Hang it out there y'all, you might be surprised.  On my epic fail morning last year (see #1 temp. inversions) two dudes rolled past me on the way back from an attempt on Sams Knob.  They were up there at 2am (absurd) trying to find solid ice.  They got skunked like rest of us but damn if they did not get a killer work out, nail a big morning in the mountains and enjoy a beautiful Pisgah sunrise.  Good on ya!

   Try hard but not THAT HARD! Save some of the rest of us! 

4.  And that brings us to number four on the list.  
Ahhh anecdotes.  A guy I know calls me up last year in the middle of "ice"season.  The converstaion transpired something like this...
Phil: Looking Glass Outfitters. This is Phil (insert pleasant inflection in voice)
Dude:  Hey man!  Its (identity protected because of dumbassary)
Phil: Hey!  What's up?
Dude:  Do you think Starshine will be in tomorrow?
Phil: I dont know. No, probably not but I will email you some recent photos.
Dude: SWEET! I just got it.  Damn!  It looks fat!
Phil:  Ahhhhh, not really Dude
Dude: Ya think??
Phil: Yes
Dude: Ok man! (over psyched on this part)  THANKS FOR ALL THE BETA! KILLER SERVICE AS ALLWAYS!  (wink)
Phil: My pleasure, now buy something.
Dude: Later!  

So dude goes out and gets on Starshine as his first ever ice lead.  Don't even get me started on that.
The next day the phone rings.  Conversation abbreviated to avoid anoying the reader even further. 

Phil: So howed it go?
Dude: epic...just as we topped out it fell down.  (Notice complete lack of psych in typing)
Phil: (Expletive) Are you guys OK?
Dude: Yeah, I think so.  
Phil: Ok good. Buy something

Same thing happened to a legendary ice and rock climber from ATL but he was not as lucky.  On a different route the whole thing collapsed with him on it.  Complete melt out. Massive fall and a chopper ride to Mission Hospital in Ashevegas.  He lived.  Ask around.
The iconic Star Shine on the right with Mother Russia on the left. Despite popular belief these only freeze in winter.

5. The very last thing we learned from last season is that...THERE IS ALWAYS NEW HAMPSHIRE!
     If it ain't in here its in somewhere!  

Thanks for reading and here's to solid ice.

Looking Glass Outfitters

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Whitesides Mtn. Starshine Jan 4 2012

Photo taken at 4:15pm. Jan 4

Whitesides Ice Report

If your bolder than I you might be able to make it happen!  
This photo was taken at 4:30pm Jan 3 c.o. my contact in Cashiers. 
Pray for cold so we can have the ice season we all want so bad! 
Got a report that 215 was thin but climbable.  Hopefully we can get photos soon.  I know a few guys up there as I type.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Cold Weather in the Forecast

Here it comes y'all!  Get your tools and crampons sharp becuase we are FINALLY getting the first cold snap of the season.  Click to get details on the surrounding areas:



Blowing Rock/Boone

Looking like the Boone area is the place to be.

Hope you get out to swing some tools!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Snow's a flyin'!

4 inches of snow on the Blue Ridge Parkway marked the beginning of winter early this week.  If you are like me then your itching to get out on the cold, blue goodness this year.  Be patient people and enjoy this stoke from last years season!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Is it cold yet?

Welcome to the first post of the 2011/12 NC Ice season.  We are still here to bring you the best, most up to date conditions of ice in WNC and the surrounding areas!  Along with that we will be adding our favorite gear reviews, routes, and stories from the season.  If you follow this blog please share with your friends that may have not heard of us.

From the gear shop perspective, we have already received our first shipment of ice gear and have been moving it right along.  Something about cold weather in the South gets ice climbers all hopped and jittery like they have had too much Mountain Dew!  We love it.  Stop in and see us this season and tell us your goals for this winter!