Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Tablets Center - Ice Climbing

The Tablets Center (WI3-4)
Lake Willoughby State Park
Westmore, Vermont

A tiny branch, really? I damn well knew it wouldn’t be secure but I grabbed onto anyways. Why that small branch and not one of the tree trunks that the rap webbings were around or the two cordelette that my leader Geoff had set around the tree trunks….I have no idea. I do know that in that very moment that I lost my balance, fell back and that tiny branch I had grabbed snapped, I felt incredibly stupid. But I was lucky today. We were 4 feet from the edge of a ledge and Geoff still had me on belay. So when I fell, Geoff caught me. (so now you're reading this blogpost instead of a news article on how-I-fell-from-a-rap-station-because-I-wasn't-anchored-in-and-hanging-onto-a-tiny-branch.)

I heard about the “big ice” in Vermont. So when a meetup (Mountaineering, Climbing & Backpacking of New England) got posted for a day of ice climbing at Lake Willoughby, I quickly RSVP’ed and made my reservations with the local inn down the street.

I drove up to stay overnight on Saturday. The next morning Geoff and I met up with 6 others at the off-road parking area on the south side of the Lake. We geared up and walked north along the road a bit, then headed into the woods and up to the Tablets flow. It was a pretty steep ascent and Microspikes helped. I couldn’t help but think how much fun it was going to be to butt-slide down. :)

At the Tablets Center there were already two other parties climbing and Geoff and I set up for our ascent. To the left of us the others in our Meetup set up on two steeper routes.  After 2  pitches, Geoff and I traversed about 60 feet to our right and into the trees. From there we rapped down using the webbing, cordlette and rap rings set on trees. I packed everything into my pack and enjoyed the butt-slide all l the way down to the road!

From our roadside parking

The Tablets Center approach

Looking back at Geoff

Aaahh!

GoPro

I'm loving my Eddie Bauer First Ascent

The rest of the gang



Geoff & I at the 3rd belay station


Route 5A

Back at the base of the climb and cleaning things up

Beautiful sunset over Mt. Hor

At the Willoughvale Inn & Cottages
Willoughvale Inn & Cottages is just under 5 miles North from the crag. This was my first stay here. It’s a very pretty inn but there were several  issues I found to be an inconvenience; they had lost their chef, so no dinner served at night. Breakfast served at 8:30am but I spoke with the innkeeper and she was able to get me breakfast 30 minutes earlier. If you have Verizon as your service provider, forget about texting, emailing and phone. I did, however, manage to find a spot in the corner of my room where I was able to receive/send calls, texts and emails.  In between the crag and the inn is the Willoughby Lake Store. It’s owned and run by a couple Jim & Sandy and they have a Blue Shar Pei named “Buddy.” There’s one gas pump outside and they serve hot/cold sandwiches, pizza and soup. Not to mention several “Made In Vermont” items. I made sure to purchase some to send home to my mom in Hawaii. 


Ice fishing shantys on Lake Willoughby

Climbing at Lake Willoughby felt like climbing at Cannon.....its that same expanse, that same exposure.....that same gratifying feeling of climbing something so much bigger than yourself. I loved it. Also, the weather was beautiful! Warm temps of mid-20's with periods of sun and hardly any wind, we lucked out!!! I hope to be back again to climb at Lake Willoughby, gotta get my “big ice” stoke on.  So long Mt. Pisgah ice!


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