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Flooded by heavy rains in the fall and frozen by recent Arctic fronts, the ice cliffs above Lake Willoughby in Vermont are in the best shape in years and have yielded two more major new routes.
On December 11, Quebecois climbers Sebastien Nantel and Olivier Ouellette climbed Solstice (WI6+), a 550-foot line with two crux pitches of thin, hollow ice. The route uses some bolts left from earlier attempts and criss-crosses the older route Super Nova (WI4+ M4 A2) to form the first free route up this daunting section of cliff.
Two days later, having earlier backed off an attempt at the first ascent of Solstice due to “storm and cowardice.” Will Mayo returned with Ian Boyer and Joe Szot and climbed a very steep line on Mount Hor, across from the lake from the main cliffs. After leaving the rock gear in his van, Mayo was “punished” by having to lead the 200-foot first pitch’s hollow column and free-hanging daggers with only ice screws. Szot then led a 165-foot WI5 pitch to complete the route. The trio named the climb Moody Aunt Ruby (WI6 R/X, but it is now thought they may have followed roughly the same line climbed earlier by Barry Blanchard or Kurt Winkler in much fatter conditions (WI4+).
Earlier last week, Doug Dillon, Will Mayo and Alden Pellett made the first ascent of Pipe Dream (WI6 R/X). Climbing.com/news/pipedream
See http://neice.com/photopost/showgallery.php?cat=504 for a selection of photos from Lake Willoughby in its current prime condition.Comment on this story