I must admit that I never thought I’d be writing about ice climbing, and as a matter of fact, I didn’t even know ice climbing existed until about 12 months ago.
Truth is, I just completed 25 days of it this winter, and as I prepare for the upcoming summer climbing season I feel like such list of confessions is necessary not only for your entertainment, but also my own path to becoming a better climber.
1. Ice Climbing is hard work. There’s no way around it. I found that the climbing itself was hard, but became more “fun” as technique progressed, but the entire “day on ice” was way more complex than what I was used to. From the packing, to the driving in sketchy roads and trying to keep a positive attitude when it is -30C.
2. Ice climbing is not safe, and I stopped pretending it is. I struggled with this quite a bit, looking back at photographs and GoPro footage I kept trying to convince myself and my loved ones back home that it is, but the reality is quite the opposite. However, I try to focus on explaining the amount of risk assessment that goes behind “a day on ice”. Myself or my partners don’t want to die, and we make sure we climb in the safest way possible.
3. Bailing is OK. Turning back sucks, but coming back home alive is pretty awesome actually.
4. Avalanches are real in the ice climbing world, and they are REALLY scary.
5. Climbing below -20C is an interesting trade-off. Although I felt a real accomplishment by being “that guy” climbing, I always felt an extreme pain and tears came out of my eyes a few times while climbing with my down jacket on.
6. Community is key. This is potentially the best part of my first season climbing ice, I was able to meet such a good crowd of people that are super passionate about taking a “newbie” out. I felt stronger and a better and safer climber by the end of this season, and to all of you who helped me along the way: thank you.
7. Sharp tools.
8. The Ghost. I finally made it to the Ghost for the first time, and I was amazed by what a 4×4 can do. I never truly understood people’s obsession with the place until I made it there, and I must say, not knowing if the car is going to make it through a creek at the end of the day was really scary.
9. Ripped pants.
10. Eating the right food is key. Eating a lot of food is not so key. Having a diarrhea when ice climbing is not fun.
Well, this is about it. Overall this was GREAT season, and I’m very thankful to all the ACC trips I was able to participate.
Cheers to an awesome and dry summer.