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The week prior, myself, Andy and Fabio had all done the Northwest Gully on Flattop Mountain and in the conversations over a few beers at Ed's cantina after the climb we decide to consider giving Dream Weaver a shot the following week. Dream Weaver is a classic North American climb. It's a shoulder width, narrow couloir that snakes its way 1,500 feet up the north face of Mt. Meeker topping out near the 13,911 foot summit.
We met at the Long's Peak trail head at 2:00 and we hiking up the trail shortly there-after. It was a nice morning although a little windy as we got above tree line. We set a nice leisurely pace once we hit tree line and arrived at Chasm Meadows just as it was light enough to see without the headlamps. We kept plugging away and we soon gearing up at the base of the snow apron that leads to the couloir proper. We took a nice long break here, ate, rested and prepared for the climbing that was just around the corner.
The route follows the base of a very impressive spire knows as the Flying Buttress. It is actually a large flake of rock that juts out of the north face of Mt. Meeker. As you climb up the snow apron you get increasingly impressive views up the other side of the buttress and into the actual Dream Weaver Couloir.
Once we got into the couloir proper, the fun really began. It was my first time using an actual ice tool and both Andy and I thought it was a lot more fun than we had expected. With every swing you get great purchase in the ice and the tool bites much better than our alpine ice axes. It was a great feeling moving up the steep snow to the first major obstacle of the day.
The couloir is long and drawn out and is evenly broken by four rock steps that must be negotiated. I'd say these ranged from 4th class to 5.4. The first was iced over on the left side and was dry rock on the right. Since the ice was thin and weak, we all opted for the solid rock to climbers right. This went fairly easily and led to more fantastic steep snow.
We continued upward enjoying this amazing day in the mountains. Soon, we were at the base of the 2nd crux of the day. This had a little more ice on it and was a little trickier but was fairly easy to negotiate and after a few minutes the three of us were about half way up Dream Weaver in the talus filled middle section of the route. Here was a wonderful surprise as we ascended into a notch that had stunning views of Longs Peak. We were now above the flying buttress about to enter the 2nd, and best, half of this storied route.
We worked our way up even more steep snow and came to the 3rd crux of the day. This was much trickier than the previous two. The snow steepend dramatically and the couloir narrowed to barely shoulder width. There was a rock step covered in water ice that was about 7 or 8 feet straight up, maybe slightly overhanging. This took a little strategy as the further you got up into the problem, the harder it was to get good swings with your tool into the solid ice above. Footholds were key and it was a stretch to get my feet up high enough to get solid purchase in the ice. Once I was able to get up into the step and once I had a bomber placement with my tool, it was fairly simply to pull up and over this step.
I made it up, set up a nice little snow chair and filmed Andy and Fabio coming up through this crux. In Andy's words, "that was intense!" Intense but so much fun! Up we went on steep snow toward the final crux move of the day. This one was not quite as steep and was solid water ice. I don't know which one I liked better, the 3rd or 4th rock step. This final one was tons of fun as well. It was easier to front point up this step as the ice gave you solid purchase. My tool had solid placements as well. The sounds of crampons and tools on solid ice is so amazing...and addicting. I was already wanting to do it again, or at least not have this climb end!
The rest of the climb was fairly uneventful. We made it to the summit along the western half of the knife ridge with no problems and helped a climber find her way down the loft back to her bivy site near Chasm Lake.
This was an amazing climb...once again, my favorite to date. The setting, the terrain, the company and all on a classic mountain in the heart of the national park.
We finished the day off with another great meal at Ed's and then I retired to my couch and the remote for an afternoon of napping! Not a bad way to spend the day! I can't wait for my next day in the hills!
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