Monday 13 April 2009

so maybe I'm an ice climber now

Wow, it's beautiful. They are beautiful. Steep though – am I really ready for this?

It's ok, it's only steep for a short section, and that'll be fine because I'll be able to get some screws in, especially as we've got those brilliant express handled ones.

Don't think I'll use my leashes or the lanyards – I just got pumped with those last time. I'll go leashless so I can just lean back and shake out when I want to, I won't feel trapped or chained on to the route so hopefully I won't get as scared as I did before either. No, I won't get so scared, I wasn't feeling well and I was seconding – I always climb better when I'm leading and bizarrely don't seem to get as freaked out. It'll be fine.

Ok the ropes are out, the guidebook description sounds fine.

Gear. What gear do I need? Ice screws. How many shall I take? The route doesn't look that long and I don't think I'll be placing many on the steep section anyway – I'll be better off just climbing through it with a screw below. Screamers and 'draws? Yes, one for each ice screw – how many am I taking again? Oh yeah, I still need to work that out: let's see – one on the 'slabby' section, maybe one in the steepness and one once I get above the vertical stuff. Maybe another one to protect the dodgy top section. How many is that then? Four? Ok four, the four express-y ones with the nice handles, they can all go on my caritool. Better take another couple just in case, plus it'll keep Patrick happy. So four screamers, two on each side of my harness, then another couple of quickdraws for the other ice screws – they can go towards the back on the left. Slings and screwgates – towards the back on the right. Do I have enough? Yes they should be fine. So much I think I might just carry my big gloves up on my harness too – it's warm enough to not need them I think but you never know, I might want them at the belay when I get there.

When I get there...when...I...get...there...yes, I will get there and it will be amazing. Not scary at all.


Ok so I better tie on. Patrick doesn't seem worried. He seems to think I'm good at all this and I'll do great. I hope he's right.

Whoa, it all looks much harder when you're about to get on it, these things always do. It really didn't look so big a few minutes ago. The ice seems quite brittle too, am I really capable of climbing this? Oh well, here we go...

Crack, splinter, crunch, splinter, crack. The ice seems very brittle actually. Should I be doing this? It is really late in the season after all and it's warm and the ice isn't brilliant and this is hard and its so steep and the ice is cracking and my axes are...


Ok so I'm scared. This isn't helping. I'm not even on the steep bit yet, I need to get a grip. I need to just get an ice screw in so that if I fall I'm not actually going to kill myself. Ok, don't drop the bloomin' thing now, excellent, that's better. Apparently I'm looking good – it doesn't feel like it. I'm all shaky and sketchy, I need to drop my heels so my crampons bite better. Oh yes, my crampons...they stick...

Awesome! They are much, much, much better than my old ones – I can use my feet properly! Wow, now I can climb ice. Excellent!

Maybe this isn't so scary, a few deep breaths and a nice shake out. I really should be enjoying this. Lean back and hang, straight armed, the axes are solid. My axes, my beautiful Rebels, yes they are solid as a rock! Lean back, take a nice deep breath and just look around. Wow, this is absolutely fantastic. The valley is stunning!

Hit, hit, solid. Tap, tap, kick, kick, stick, stick. Awesome! This is amazing, I'm climbing a vertical frozen waterfall and it feels fantastic! I think I should place another ice screw, so I just need to find some decent ice...

Ooh there we go. Reach down, unclip, let's get this started. Why is getting these things started such a pain? I'm sure I'm going to drop one of these at some point...please don't let it be now...ugh...pumped...feeling pumped now, don't drop the ice screw...argh...ok I've got it, just get it winding in a bit...I really need to shake out...

Breathe, relax. I'm nicely bridged here so my arms can rest a little. Think I might have been over gripping a bit. Breathe nice and deep, breathe slow. My heart, I can hear it, it's settling down now. Wow I can hear birds – hadn't noticed them before. The air smells fresh and cool. This really is lovely. Just a few more moves now and I can really relax.

Hit, hit, thwack, thwack, bury those axes deep, this soft stuff is excellent. Kick, kick, stick, stick, scrabble around a bit. Hmm, elegant, so much for being a technical climber...

Wow I'm at the top.

So where's the belay?

1 comment:

  1. Stunning pictures, it seems you had a really goot time there!

    How is life without that threadbare axel? :)