Round Top (10381 ft) via the Crescent Moon Couloir

7 Apr 2002 - by Arun Mahajan

I pity the fool who brings his ice tool

Not heeding these wise words of Mr. T, some members of the Ice family, Ron Karpel (Hard-Ice), Maxym Runov (Ice-Cube), Bob Suzuki (Stoic-Ice), Rick Booth (Rock-n-Ice), Scott Kreider (Vanilla-Ice) and Arun Mahajan (Ice-Karim), met up at the Carson Pass Sno-Park on the morning of Sunday, the 7th of April, 2002, loaded to the gills with an assortment of ice climbing and other general climbing gear like tools, slings, harnesses, ropes and pickets. This was to show the casual observer that these Soggy Bottom Boys were serious climbers or had done serious shopping at the last climbing sale at Outlet.Com. The objective was to climb the striking Crescent Moon Couloir on Round Top and to provide levity with background choral blue-ice grass musical accompaniment.

Starting at 10am and struggling mightily to keep up with Ice Cube and Stoic Ice, the rest of us icicles made it to the base of the couloir at the top of a flattish section, above Lake Winnemucca, by 12 pm. Hard-Ice wisely suggested that we put on harnesses as the steep couloir above would make it harder to do so at a later point. Meanwhile, Ice-Cube, melting with impatience, waited for us and we all started going up, unroped. The snow layer was crusty but we dug into it with firm steps, benefitting no doubt from the previous trail breaking of Ice Cube who had bolted ahead. There is a couloir on the left, also clearly visible from the road, that is at a gentler angle but we wanted to try the actual Crescent Moon couloir which is on the right. The angle progressively increased but the snow conditions were perfect and in the deep snow, our ice axes were sinking to the hilt and our feet to the knees but we were getting good purchase. After a short break at the point where the Crescent Moon Couloir showed another fork, we decided to go on, what appeared to be, the steeper, right branch. This time, in an attempt to give Ice-cube some rest from trail breaking, Ice-Karim decided to go up first and made progress by doing short switch backs. Hard-Ice and Rock-n-ice thought that the angle was 45-degrees here. Looking back down, we were rewarded with a truly spectacular sight of the steep couloir below our feet with a train of climbers coming up and ringed with the snow covered hills and peaks of the Carson Wilderness. At this point, wanting to go up faster, Ice-Cube asked to lead and went almost straight up to a rock head wall. Here the angle was the steepest and he stayed in the furrow between the wall and the main snow slope and in a few moments, was at the top of the notch between the main summit (left) and the surrogate summit (right). We all came up behind, being extra careful here, as the axes sank only till mid-shaft before hitting rock and there were a couple of spots where we had to face in and make a few moves with our boot-toe tips which sank in enough but lesser than that in the couloir below. Definitely a no-fall zone and we were clearly woken up, daylight savings or not! It had taken us an hour and half to get to this point, after having started off for the couloir proper, at 12pm.

The short wall to be climbed en-route to the summit hump was surprisingly devoid of snow and we all had to make a few interesting class-4/5 moves to get to the actual summit. We signed into one of the multiple summit registers and then made our way to the surrogate summit and we were again surprised at the lack of snow as we made our way over the scree and loose stuff to descend via the snowy slopes back to the point where we had left our snow shoes. In an hour or so after that, we were back to the cars at about 4.30 pm.

The snow conditions were perfect this day for a short high angle couloir climb that is the Crescent Moon Couloir. Any higher angle or any worse conditions, we would have had to use a rope and set protection, but this day and with our level of experience, we all felt comfortable without a rope.

It was Julius Caesar, who, after doing a particularly nice couloir climb with his friends, had said, "I came, I thaw, I conquered". While historians will debate this, we should have listened to what Mr. T had said and left that ice tool home.

Arun Mahajan and the Ice family of the Soggy Bottom Boys.

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