All Mixed Up

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The approach to All Mixed Up is a steep climb through trees and brush to gain the upper reaches of a headwall above Mills Lake. Fortunately, there was a very low snow pack, so we didn’t need any floatation in terms of snowshoes or skis. That night camping wasn’t too cold, but the winds were howling through the gorge, and it sounded as if we were camping at Denver International Airport with jetliners flying over constantly. As I lay in my bag trying to fall asleep, I kept thinking of stories about trees falling on tents in the middle of the night crushing people as they slept.

When the alarm sounded at 4:00 AM we awoke and grabbed our packs in anticipation of the day ahead. We made it up the approach and were gearing up at the base of the first pitch in about an hour after we left camp. By then the sun was up and the wind had subsided in time for a great climb. I volunteered to lead the first pitch, consisting of WI2 ice for about 80 feet. There was a substantial belay ledge formed from the steep ice above where I quickly set up the anchor to belay up Josh.

By the time Josh made it to my position another party was just beginning the second pitch which is the crux of the route. A series of WI3 pillar mixed with a few WI4 moves carried on for about 150 feet to the base of the third pitch. Josh did an excellent job of leading the pitch and protecting the climb very well with solid screw placements. As I pulled the belay and began the climb I realized how fortunate we were to have such a beautiful day for climbing. The wind was nonexistent and the temperatures were relatively mild. I topped out the second pitch and agreed with Josh that I would lead the third which was mainly snow and low angle ice. I only placed one screw as I made it to the base of the fourth and final pitch.

By this time several parties were on the route above and below us, which had us waiting in line for the fourth pitch. By the time Josh made it up to my position, the party above had just topped out, leaving the beautiful WI4 flow ready for the taking. Josh led the  final pitch up vertical WI4 ice in perfect style. We knew we had the route under our belts at this point and enjoyed the climbing up to the exit into an adjacent talus slope for the descent.

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