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Yosemite’s Ice Climb Widow’s Tears Forms

First climbed 47 years ago, it's the biggest pure ice route in the lower 48

Widow’s Tears in Yosemite doesn’t always form, but when it does, it’s the longest continuous ice climb in the lower 48 and it hasn’t seen many ascents. First climbed in 1975 by Mark Chapman and Kevin Worral, it’s a seven-pitch classic near the Inspiration Point trail.

Photos were shared of Widow’s Tears this week, which shows that on Dec. 21 the climb was fully formed. There’s no word that it’s been climbed yet this year. Over the decades it formed sporadically when the right conditions were present. It’s formed several times over the past decade, and was climbed in 2013, in 2015 by a dozen teams, by a handful of climbers in 2019 and possibly by teams in the past two winters. In 2015, it was also soloed by Vitaliy Musiyenko min two hours and 48 minutes.

In 2019, Mark Melvin and his partner climbed it and had this to say: “We started the first pitch about 7:45, and topped out at 4:45, hoping we had daylight to find a trail. Basically we got lost for an hour or so and eventually came upon some snowshoe tracks. Figuring that anyone out there was going to the road eventually, we followed it as it wandered all around, up and down, having fun in the woods (fun for them, nightmare for us). Four hours later it finally joined a beaten snow path, where we turned right and slogged another two hours east.”

The nearly 500-metre ice line is often climbed in seven to 10 pitches and has a walk-off descent. With chilly temps in the forecast, chances are high it will be climbed this winter.

Widow’s Tears Solo