A Number of Firsts While Ice Climbing

After a long couple of months of working, bootpacking, and skiing groomers too fast to document, I was lucky enough to finally go on some adventures worth sharing. I traveled to the San Juan Mountains twice in late December, once with my dad to Silverton for my birthday, and again for New Year’s for an extended weekend with my awesome friend Trine and new friend Maggi. Similar to my last post, I counted myself extremely lucky to go on adventure with two amazing ladies, and the good times did not disappoint.

Maggi crushing ice on the first day

We started and ended our trip the same way: ice climbing in the Ouray Ice Park. The dismal snowfall in the San Juans towards the end of December convinced me that I should finally try ice climbing, or as we collectively decided, pop my ice climbing cherry.

Your author, on ice. Photo: Trine

Not only was it my first time climbing on vertical water ice, but it would be the first time I used quite a bit of shiny climbing equipment I purchased before parting ways with Bent Gate Mountaineering. My sparkly pink rope would loose some shine, and all sorts of slings, carabiners, and accessary cord would garner some street cred-tarnish.

Trine on the last route of the last day

I wasn’t the only one with new equipment, as Trine and I shared her fancy new ice tools, and Maggi broke in her new crampons.

After getting throttled by the first route on the last day, Maggi (on route) and I enjoyed this plastic WI4 route.

My good friend Andy once told me that ice climbing is amazingly awkward, and I have to agree with him. The movements, muscles used, and mental establishment of trust between the climber and the ice was totally unique. I thought it was awesome though, and even when I got hosed on the first climb of the second day, I still topped out ecstatic I was able to finish the climb. Heck, I was ecstatic after both days about trying something awesome and new.

Me looking small

Even though we were only toproping, I feel comfortable with my skills at this point to do it again, and plan on using these abilities to get on some alpine ice this coming Spring to access some tougher ski descents in North America, and possibly beyond.

Thanks for teaching me, girls, and for helping me break in my pink rope!

(If you notice some the pictures are funky and a little grainy, I apologize. I got a new camera during the holidays, and I’m still working on figuring it out).


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