I’ve been in Bozeman since Saturday morning for a few days of ice before heading to Austin, Texas for some family holiday action tomorrow.  Many of you know that tucked into the foothills outside of town, Hyalite Canyon holds one of the best ice climbing areas in the lower 48, and I’ll take any excuse to get here.  It’s hard to describe just how special this place is- gorgeous, steeped in the history of the sport, and full of community.  I haven’t had the opportunity to write about Hyalite on this blog yet but this place has been one of my favorite winter playgrounds in the past few years, the words really fall short tonight.

Peeking around the corner into the goodness.

I’m staying with my friends Drew and Marko while I’m in Bozeman.  Pete Tapley is in the kitchen, we chatted with Jack Tackle in the parking lot yesterday, Renny Jackson is in town for a few pitches.  The legends abound.  Stories are shared, climbs are sent, and yet most folks are really fairly humble- it’s an incredible scene to be a part of.  My friend Colin drove over from Portland to Missoula on Friday, and we drove to Bozeman on Saturday together.  Getting a late start, we happened to meet Jack and Doug Chabot at the base of Magically Delicious, and I got to wrap up a lead on this classic mixed climb that scared the pants off me a few years ago when I belayed Colin up it.  I also ran it out on Elevator Shaft, but Colin wasn’t feeling well so we called it an early day.

Feeling the magic on Magically Delicious.

Sunday I headed out with Drew and Marko for a lap on Genesis II and Through Four More. Genesis was taken, so I jumped on the lead for “More” without a warmup.  I got the send, but didn’t really feel comfortable until a few top rope laps later.  That night we took a walk back to check conditions on RocketBoy, one of the last great unclimbed “all Free” ascents left in the Canyon.

It's all about the triangle shape on Through Four More.

Headed down the rappel lines.

We enjoyed the sun, and I enjoyed great company with friends I hadn’t seen in far too long.

Drew, showing us all how to stem.

Marko taking in the sun.

My favorite times though are at the end of the day- the canyon is quiet, and the fading light hangs delicately on the canyon rim until the stars come out.  Being at the top of a climb at twilight is truly remarkable.  Today I did some work and worked on Christmas in the morning, but had the itch to see one more sunset in the canyon. I took off around 2pm for a few solo laps on “The Fat One” an easy ice lead that I had struggled with on my third trip here two years ago.

The Fat One, without anyone around on a Monday afternoon.

I'm missing a rope behind me (the skinny line is a tree).

It was my first experience climbing ice without wearing a rope, no rope or belay on the way up- just a tag line in my backpack for the rappel off.  Somehow, it was just what I wanted to do.  I was in complete control the whole time, and enjoyed getting on the route with no one around.  Completely alone at the end of the day in one of the most beautiful places I know is a great way to wrap up a few awesome days- many thanks for stellar partners and splitter weather.

The colors hint at the richness of our experience here.

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