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North America, United States, Montana, Glacier National Park, Mt. Edwards, North Face, Chaos Theory

Mt. Edwards, North Face, Chaos Theory. On previous trips in previous years, I often found myself drooling hopelessly as I looked up at a very elegant unclimbed line of mixed rock and ice on the north face of Mt. Edwards. This year, because of an early arctic blast and nearly nonexistent snow pack, most of the melt-freeze-dependent routes on Edwards were not more than a few smears and icicles scattered across the walls. But our hopes were realized in March, after a few heavy dumps were followed by increasing temperatures. We knew the conditions could only be improving.

On a high-pressure weekend, Chris Gibisch and I skied up to Snyder Basin for a better look, and possible attempt, at the line I was twitching for. We skied across the upper lake and up the initial snow slopes to the base of the established route, Six Pack. From there, we simulclimbed the first 600 feet of Six Pack to where our route started.

The first pitch was up a flaring chimney with fun dry tooling and sporty gear; it ended with a long section of one- to three-inch ice and a hanging belay. Next, we climbed up a lens/cone to the base of a large overhanging dangler that creaked and moaned like an old farmhouse door. After sneaking up the acoustical dagger, another 165 feet of ramping WI3-4 led to the base of an orgasmically beautiful, blue, freestanding WI4-5 pillar that ended at a luxurious snow ledge. This snow ledge marked the end of our route, Chaos Theory (IV 5.10 WI5+, 1,100'), and we happily threaded our way down the wall to join our friends, Kevin McCracken and Patrick Knoll, who had just climbed a new variation on Six Pack (WI4+, 1,600') a couple of hundred feet to our left.

Jeff Shapiro, unaffiliated