Got out for a fine day of ice climbing yesterday with Joe and Becky. We headed up the RMNP classic All Mixed Up on the east face of Thatchtop. The usual 4AM departure had us hiking the glacier gorge trail around 5:15 AM. We made fast time on the well packed trail to Mills Lake, at which point we realized we maybe should have brought some better directions. Although the climb was in plain view, the approach is blocked by a fairly cliffy hillside. After a few misleading trails, we finally picked up the correct one. A nicely packed trail climbed steeply through the woods, before breaking out into the open and forcing us to break trail the rest of the way.
Apparently AMU can get very busy when fully formed, but today, in the present thin conditions, we were the first ones there (2 other parties would show up when we were on the 2nd pitch). After taking our time getting ready, we soloed up the first pitch of easier ice.
The main flow ascended an extremely delicate looking pillar at the start of the 2nd pitch. We decided to climb around this by some still delicate, but shorter pillars on the right, leading to some thin ice and mixed climbing. Thankfully, the climbing was well protected, and the scariest part was the thought of dropping a tool. Above the mixed climbing, some beautiful ice lead up to a leftward traverse. An excellent 60m pitch of climbing.
Becky led the third pitch which included more thin ice to a short column, more thin ice, and finally a snowfield to a stance below the final pitch.
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Joe got the classic final pitch. Grade 3 ice, made more serious by the constant spin drift, led to a tricky mixed slot, that luckily gave way to good ice and turf out right.
After walking back to the base, Joe headed back up to look for a screw we dropped from the third pitch. Unfortunately, our screw was nowhere to be found, but Joe did find a screw belonging to one of the other parties that had started up below us. We returned it and headed back down to the car.
Side view of the climb