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RMNP Windstorm Makes Ice Climbing Less Than Fun
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November 2011 :: United States :: RMNP

Dont know if you've heard this yet—but in early Nov. there was a catastrophic wind event in RMNP. [Ed. Like the Tunguska Event? Probably not.]
Nothing less than a phenominal microburst in Glacier Gorge (more like a
hurricane).

Either the front sucked air into its mass from the west, or the wind swirled and blew out of the east, but thousands of trees are laying downhill, pointing west. The eastern half of the canyon (area below Astro Tower) is completely destroyed. I imagine that RMNP see's annual winds over 100mph and for over a century now —SO what could generate this type of destruction? [After our recent trip] we're guessing 150-200mph or more?

Brian Verhuslt & I skiied in to climb Stoneman yesterday. It took the usual 1-hour to get to Mills Lake, but then it took 2+ hours to get through the blow-down—crawling, zig-zagging, climbing over, and circumnavigating areas.

Car to ice took 4 hours!  And the exit was the same time as going in. It created a 13 hour day, car to car.

The ice was cold and dry and therefore brittle. Brian backed off the 1st WI5 column (a short 20' column) which I completed with some tenacity and terror.  Then he redeemed himself on the 2nd WI4- pitch. It stormed heavily all day and accumulated about 8-10".  We were pretty damp on the way out.

In the picture: Thats Brian doing one of many dozens of crawls under the blow down. Most of the destroyed trees were torn up by the roots. All were healthy trees. We're hoping the NPS gets proactive about bucking out some of this to reestablish the trail.

—Bob Jasperson

[Ed. If anyone else has information or wishes to supplement this Trip Report, please email info@americanalpineclub.org with the Subject Line "RMNP Blow Down."]