IDAHO'S MASSIVE NEW ICE AMPHITHEATER

Posted on: February 7, 2007


Barely visible in red is Dean Lords on Indulgence (M9+ WI6). Lords and Mike Howard established the climb on February 3 in the Perrine Amphitheater, Snake River Canyon, Idaho. Although the greater Canyon area has undergone heavy development for nearly thirty years, this is the Amphitheater's first line due to the steep rock, fragile ice and long pitches (Indulgence required a 70m rope). [Photo] Mike Howard

On February 3 Dean Lords and Mike Howard took advantage of fat conditions in Idaho's Perrine (pronounced "Prine") Amphitheater in Twin Falls's Snake River Canyon to establish Indulgence (M9+ WI6), a mixed line that bulges out volcanic rock to hanging daggers of ice. They had equipped the anchors and rock section with bolts only a day before.

Studying Indulgence (M9+ WI6). Lords and Howard had equipped the climb only one day before their ascent. [Photo] Mike Howard

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Locals have eyed the Amphitheater, visible and one minute's walk from the road, since the early 80s, when Paul Potters and John Warning began ice climbing in the Snake River Canyon. Not as well known as the ice in Hyalite (MT), Cody (WY) or Salt Lake (UT)—all a few hours away—the cragging area of the Snake River Canyon is blessed with over thirty ice climbs (WI3 to WI6), some up to four pitches, and a growing mixed offering, right in the city of Twin Falls.

"We're super excited about the line," Lords says of Indulgence, "and the untouched mixed potential in the Perrine Amphitheater." Indulgence ascends the far left of the feature, which is certain to house another eight or ten distinct lines. The center ones, steeper with more friable ice, will require delicate climbing and ideal conditions, Lords says. Conditions were just right on Saturday to attempt the line, one Lords wanted to climb since he first drove by it in 1994.

The Canyon's first introduction to mixed climbing began in the late 80s on traditional gear. Frequent dry conditions in the last five years have forced many climbers to go mixed near ground-level to reach the ice drips. After mastering these sections, Lords had the confidence to go for his long-time dream. "Dwarfed by a massive amphitheater of overhanging ice... that's what the evolution of modern ice climbing has become."

Lords moving from the "extremely difficult, technical, hard to read drytooling over two roofs, and onto a beautiful hanging dagger." [Photo] Mike Howard

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