shan logo

30 FA Project - Desert Ice

3 min read · tagged 30 fa project, zion, nevada, first ascent, challenge, ice climbing

Zion Exploration

On my way back from New Mexico in January, I visited Zion National Park for the first time as an adult. All I did was drive through the park from east to west, but it was breathtaking. I was kicking myself for not trying earlier to rock climb there, let alone get on the giant ice routes I'd read about. A month later, it was time to get serious about exploring the icy slot canyons.

I convinced my friend Julia to join me trudging around the Zion backcountry with binoculars. Apart from a potential climb that was out of condition and a deep tiredness from snowshoeing miles and miles, we came out empty-handed. Another short exploratory mission with another partner, Ryan, was the same. But we did manage to bag a couple monsters.

zicicle1 The classic Zicicle WI5 240' zicicle2 Desert ice is the best nuclear sunrise Nuclear Sunrise WI5 400'+

Nevada Ice

When I started skinning up Lamoille Canyon the first time, I didn't know what exactly to expect. A few sites mentioned ice but with no specifics. I didn't even realize there was a guidebook and that it had (one page!! of) ice climbs listed until I reached out to the guidebook author. So when I saw six ice climbs in the first four miles, I was ecstatic.

white lines White Lines WI4

I climbed White Lines on that first scouting trip and made notes on all the formations for a return. Unfortunately the sun came out for a few days and destroyed White Lines (nothing left but a wet streak) and a few other potential routes. But there was still plenty to do the following weekend, so I spent the first day hiking into an area I called Goliath's Tears after the Colossus wall nextdoor.

fight me Fight Me Like a Real Man WI3 solo On the FA of Fight Me Like a Real Man

Three icicles awaited me in a small cirque 2000' above the road. Fight Me Like a Real Man was a little warmup that could hold a long streak of WI2 in drier conditions, David is a Little Bitch had fun climbing and was the prettiest, and Who Uses a Slingshot Anyway poured directly out of a corner low on the headwall.

david David is a Little Bitch WI3+ slingshot Who Uses A Slingshot Anyway WI4

The following day Julia and I explored between two rock buttresses where I saw a cave route, which of course, reminded me of THE Cave Route in Indian Creek. I was going to call it #1s All the Way even as a pure ice route, but it turned out to be mixed and would have taken two #1s if I had them! I made do with nuts and wrapping an ice column to get off.

number ones #1s All the Way WI3 M3 julia Julia descending after a good day's work

30 FA Project Summary

I was at 7 out of 30 first ascents on March 3, 2019. I should expect to do 2.5 per month to be on track. The next deadline is 10 by April 25.


Avatar of Sean McLaneSean McLane is an amateur climber and coder based in Salt Lake City.