I spent much of this trip thinking about this article, "how to beat imposter syndrome on the slopes."  My friend hilary is an amazingly skilled mountain woman.  I just try to keep up.

We started our trip in Red Lodge, Montana on a small ice climb called Hellroaring Falls, where we sadly realized the road was too snowed in to make it into our objective for the following day. 

the view from hellroaring falls

So instead we got up early and skinned up Red Lodge Mountain before the lifts started running.

magic light at dawn at the top of red lodge mountain resort

this small patrol hut sits at top of the mountain and was a warm place to enjoy more of the sunrise

We ended up skiing the resort the whole day; we spent most of it in the closed section enjoying being away from the crowds, skinning across the mountain to access the lifts.  

photo by h. eisen

Then, we headed to Cody, Wyoming for climbing in the South Fork of the Shoshone.  We started on "Chasing the Sun," a three pitch route up a drainage.  The "20 minutes of hiking" between pitches two and three the guidebook described was more like and hour plus of wallowing through thigh-deep breakable crust.  We lost too much time, and headed down without finishing.  

wallow between the first and second pitches

pitch 2.  this looked great to me...until i realized what "snice" means (snow + ice).  all the awesome looking places to put my feet crumbled away far too easily, and burrowing through the cornice up high was, well, interesting. 

the top-out of pitch 2

wallowing up the gully was hard work.  hilary expresses her level of fatigue: so tired...

but so close.  we got up to pitch 3, looked at the clock, and realized it was time to turn around.  all that slogging just to take a look...

back down the gully

The next day, we tried to cross the river to climb "High on Boulder."  Hilary fell in and determined that her boots, gaiters, and pants are indeed waterproof.  We changed course to head up to"Grandma's Chicken" instead.  After another long wallow-fest on the approach, we bailed and headed back to the car to try for a climb with a shorter, "easy" approach on which we both tested the waterproofing on our boots, punching through the snow into the creek multiple times.  I'm told the South Fork doesn't normally have snowy approaches.  All lies, as far as i can tell.  

heading up to "grandma's chicken," before the wallowing got ridiculous

even the easy approaches in the south fork involve ropes and actual climbing -- looking out from the belay of "too cold to fire."

"too cold to fire."  it was.  hilary led it in style.  i froze at the belay and didn't take my turn.  

We were slated to climb in the Clark's Fork the next day, but with below-zero temperatures predicted, we decided a rest day would be better.  So, we drove to Cooke City and stopped at the boiling river hot spring in Yellowstone on the way.

bison!

walk out to the hot springs

Next on deck was skiing.  Cooke City is a pretty neat place.  Surrounded by mountains and joined by Pat and Pika, we skied straight from the door three days in three different areas.  

pat and hilary heading into sheep basin

photo by h. eisen

view from woody ridge

heading up another drainage.

scoping future lines

things were a bit wind-scoured up top.

The last stop on the tour was Hyalite canyon outside of Bozeman.  Hands-down my favorite day.  The climbing there was just fun.  Perhaps because we brought Dylan along and he and I climbed together after Hilary led the pitch.  They both regularly help at clinics for the Bozeman ice festival, so having someone climb beside me and talk me through good technique and make me laugh mid-pitch was awesome.   Only spending one day in there was sad, but is definitely motivation to head back some day!   

hyalite canyon