Here is a fun moderate that feels like the Skylight
area on Campbird Road though with better rock, a huge avalanche gully above and below, and a much longer approach. Perhaps it is more like climbing The Ribbon
. The upper face here gets lots of early morning sun. Grover Price and I climbed this May 5, 2013. After an exceptional
spring freeze melt cycle.
Has it been done before? Route documenter (Diamond Productions), long time all-around climber, Clay Wadman, who lives a mile from the base, insists to the best of his knowledge there has been no written or oral history of this route. Though that might reflect the painful history of recreational access in this narrow and much loved valley. Clay has a special project in this area and thus has an intimate knowledge of these walls. I spoke with AS and he seemed to think he might have soloed it back in the day. Regardless as to its parentage here is all the info you need to have a fun day of off season ice climbing. While the rest of your posse is freezeing their butts off in the desert you can be climbing ice when it's pleasant out. This has way too much snow above it to climb in winter, so mild spring/fall conditions are the time to climb.
Before driving through Telluride, stop in at Jagged Edge on the left and get the latest access info from Eric or John. There is the mine and its important reclamation efforts to consider. Please think long and hard about discreetly approaching this climb. The mine and its hard working folks were in Telluride long before ice climbing was invented. Park well before the mine on the left side of road out of the way of traffic. There are signs there as of April 2013 indicating parking for Bridal Veil.
Looking south you cannot fail to see the curving gully. It's shaped like a balsamic moon. Thus the route name. Plus to climb up this with a 1000 feet of God knows what up there. One would have to be....
Leave the old railroad grade that traverses the entire valley floor near the base of the wall and follow one of the old avalanche paths that has carved a clean path to the base of the route. This will make passing through the brush much easier. There is a nice one on the far right. There are some shattered cracks at the base of route on the right to belay. As a general rule, staying to the right whenever possible will reduce the dangers from above.
Pitch 1: Climb Grade 2/3 ice to a 5 inch diameter pine 15 feet to the right of gully and belay after 35 meters.
Pitch 2: Leave the ledge and tree and climb 25 feet to a chokepoint where the gully becomes a slabby, offwidth chimney. If full of ice, this is easy; however, if climbing in very thin conditions, this could be the crux. After the chimney, charge up and right to the safety of the bear's den.
Pitch 3: The steepest part of the route exits out left of the cave. Having survived the steep ice one is relived to find the pitch is slabbing out. That relief is short lived when one finds that the entirety of the upper slopes exits in the 20 foot wide area one occupies. Race to the relative safety of a large block in the middle of the slope to rest. Then it's up and left to the rap. This is a 60 meter pitch.
10 screws of various length would sew it up. We did not build a screw anchor. Bring a small alpine rock rack. Camp tricams rule in the pockets. There is no fixed gear. Though the decomposing rock on top of pitch 2 in the cave has a couple lengths of red 7mm cord threaded through some choss. At the top of the route, one meets the Iron Way. Rap from there to the cave. From there, it's a rope stretcher to the ground. Bring 60 meter ropes and lots of extra perlon to leave in the bear's den.