Ice Climbing at Hyalite Canyon

At the Genesis I wall in Hyalite canyon

Dec 16-21, 2016

Eric and Katie

We drove out of Seattle Friday morning after I submitted my final grades, and were in Bozeman 10 hours later. The forecast was for -22F that night in Bozeman, but -31F in West Yellowstone. The choice of where to sleep that night was obvious – West Yellowstone.

Weather.gov page showing -40F on the morning of Dec 17 for the West Yellowstone airport, a mile north of us.

After 2 more hours of driving on icy/snowy roads we reached west yellowstone at 1:30am and the temperature was already -22F. We drove around for a while looking for a place to camp, and by 2am we were sleeping in the car a mile outside of town. We brought extra blankets on top of our sleeping bags so the cold wasn’t too bad. I got up at 8am and the car thermometer said -22F, but we figured out that it must bottom out at -22F since weather.gov showed west yellowstone currently at -40F, and we could see the town from our camping place. (Subsequent research showed indeed one weather station at the West Yellowstone airport recorded a low of -40F, and another on the edge of town recorded -43F).

A weather station in town recorded a low of -43F that morning, which was the nation’s lowest temperature that day according to weather.gov

I walked around for an hour outside enjoying a new personal best cold temperature. For fun I boiled a pot of water  outside, then threw it in the air and it turned to snow before it hit the ground. Check out the video here.

We eventually drove back to Bozeman then up into Hyalite Canyon. The road was snowy enough to require chains on the tires, but not too bad. That day we scouted out some climbs, then over the next four days climbed a bunch of ice in the Genesis and Mummy Cooler areas. My crampon actually broke on the next-to-last day, and I suspect it was related to it being exposed to -43F, then +30F.

By the next wednesday we finished our last climb and started the long drive back to Seattle.

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