On February 15, Bozeman climber Matt Cornell, 25, free soloed Nutcracker (M9 WI5+, 5 pitches), in Montana’s Hyalite Canyon. Cornell’s solo of Nutcracker was a logical next step after years of soloing in Hyalite, where he began with the classic ice pillars for many seasons before moving on to harder mixed climbs such as Black Magic (5.9 WI5, 140′) and Come and Get it (M7, 165′). He rehearsed Nutcracker many times and cleaned loose rock before his solo, but he did not use tick marks or make any other enhancements to the route. He doesn’t own a car, so he was “riding the bike and hitching rides most days to get up to the canyon,” he said.
Scott Coldiron has a lot of experience when it comes to staying warm on frozen alpine routes. He’s been using the Valandre Troll jacket in Montana’s Cabinet Range and reports, “Simply put, this jacket lofts better under all conditions than other down jackets I’ve used, and the resulting warmth it creates is impressive.” It’s also more expensive, however, and it lacks a couple features he would’ve liked to have. Four stars.
After recovering from a severe illness in the wake of the Gulf War, veteran Scott Coldiron returns to his long-abandoned climbing dreams–exploring new ice in remote parts of Montana’s Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. In this On Belay story from Alpinist 64, Coldiron traces the formative experiences of his hard-knock childhood, his discovery of what the mountains offered, and how he found his way back to the peaks that first stirred his imagination.