Jim and Simeon Hit Bridalveil Falls and Ames Ice Hose

by Simeon Warner

Left work at 5pm and drove to Telluride. Arrived at 11pm, well before last orders, so Jim and I went out for several large beers. On Saturday morning we got up at 8am and stumbled down the road to a fine diner/cafe and had a huge greasy breakfast with lots of coffee (OJ for Jim). Finally packed gear then drove to the end of the road and the trail head for Bridalveil Falls. It as about 10am by then, warm and sunny, and from the roadside we could see a party of 4 South Americans on the route already. Decided not to bother with the walk up and instead went back into town for lunch and an afternoon in the hot tub with plenty more beer.

And now ... back to reality:

Got to Telluride about 11pm, Jim asleep until I woke him ;-) I had a swift bottle of beer to unwind after the drive and we sorted gear. Jim said we were getting up early but it takes a special kind of guy to wake you at 3:50am, 10 minutes before the alarm was scheduled to go off. We wearily ate some cereal, downed some hot chocolate and headed out in the dark and cold (later found it was -5F). The trail head for Bridalveil Falls is just a couple of miles from the centre of town and we found we were the first party -- good. We also found that we needed snow shoes but had left them in the hotel. Took a little trip back to get them. Slogged up to the route with slightly too small snow shoes, approach is supposedly 2miles and 1600' elevation gain. Seemed like hard work to me and took us the better part of 2h. Route got scarier and steeper as we got closer. I started off on easy but rotten ice and stopped where it started to get hard, nice belay in cave. Jim lead of steadily from there on a steep wall of chandeliered and brittle ice. I was very pleased not to have tried it. I knocked off a torso-sized bit of ice which bounced off my shoulder and left me hanging by a combination of one tool and the nice tight rope Jim had me on. I took several rope-assisted rests on that pitch. The next pitch was worse, I was scared just watching Jim. It started up a brittle, overhanging pillar which made unsettling noises, especially when Jim placed a screw. The rest of the third pitch was more steep, brittle and hollow ice with one very wet section. I took more rests. Two amazing 5+ leads for Jim. Fortunately the top pitch was about 3+ so I could regain a little pride by finishing the route. Walked off the top and butt-slid and snow shoed down. Back at the hotel we relaxed in the hot tub while watching the last few skiers ski back into town.

Sunday offered no release from the early start regime. Up at 4am again and off about 10m S to Ames to find Ames Ice Hose. After some tarting about we found the power station and headed off, still in the dark. People climbing on Saturday had trampled a nice trail for us so the approach was not bad except for the final wallowy snow slope to the base of the climb. This climb looked much better (easier) than Bridalveil and did turn out to be. It was very fat with none of the chimney/mixed parts mentioned in the guide. I did the first pitch (4+) on nice ice to a cave. Jim took the second pitch which was steeper with less good ice (5/5+?). It is possible to go all the way to the top on 60m ropes from the 2nd belay. However, I was blasting Jim with debris and so had a perfect excuse to belay half way and thus chop the pitch in two. Jim finished the route, picking the steepest possible line and turning 4+ into something that felt awfully 5ish to me. We rapped the route and headed back to the hot tub. Back to the hotel by 3pm.