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[caption id="attachment_1374" align="alignnone" width="484"] Pete Tapley throwing some clay targets after a good morning of ice climbing and dry tooling[/caption]

Early season ice climbing always has its challenges both mentally and physically. As soon as the first snow or cold hits the mountains we begin our hunt for the first climb of the season. Lucky for me that climb usually exists in my backyard.

[caption id="attachment_1375" align="alignnone" width="477"] Marko and I check out what ice we have to work with[/caption]

Pete Tapley and Marko Pujic came down from Bozeman, Mt for a weekend hunt beginning of October for early season ice and we found just enough to make our first day successful.

[caption id="attachment_1376" align="alignnone" width="420"] Pete Tapley gettin the first sticks for the season[/caption]

Pete was able to scratch his way up and save enough ice for everyone. Curtains always provides soon after the first cold front hits town and it feels so good to throw some tools. The climb is always a great warm up and climbing it when its nice and thin gives an added bonus of thrill.

[caption id="attachment_1378" align="alignnone" width="490"] Big rainstorm moving through the South Fork Valley as we drove in to see if any ice was forming.[/caption]

After Ice climbing up on Carter Mountain we decided to head into the South Fork Valley to see if any ice was forming and as we drove in a major storm was brewing and dumping rain down low. We went to the new dry tool area I have been working on in Deer Creek and had hopes of the rain moving through.

[caption id="attachment_1379" align="alignnone" width="490"] Aaron Mulkey climbing "Kellys Route"[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1380" align="alignnone" width="504"] Marko Pujic climbing in a down pouring rain[/caption]

Well we tried to go Dry Tooling but ended up wet tooling as the rain got worse and just kept coming down. We finally left as the waterfalls began cascading down the cliff face.

[caption id="attachment_1382" align="alignnone" width="490"] The walls along the south facing side of the valley were getting pounded with rain as headed out[/caption]

After shooting some clay pigeons to complete a full classic Wyoming day of good times we headed back to town to pack for a hunting trip in the Rock Creek drainage

As we drove out of Red Lodge early in the morning the rain continued to fall but lucky for us as we got into the Rock Creek drainage and the rain gave way to fog and we were able to hike up and out of the fog to gain access to the higher peaks above.

[caption id="attachment_1383" align="alignnone" width="490"] Pete and Marko blindly trust me as we hike into the fog for unknown terrain above.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1385" align="alignnone" width="477"] Marko makes his way out of the clouds and into the groveling[/caption]

After about a two hour hike we get to our destination only to find there is no ice. There is plenty of snow but a melt/freeze cycle has not happened. We look at some other options and realize this area could be super good in the spring. As we all hiked out, we are all disappointed but really psyched to get out in the mountains in the start of winter. Just feels good to see snow covered mountains and cold temps on your face. It's this time of year that you just feel so excited to be out and it just gets me incredibly excited about the season to come.