Back on the Ice!
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I went to a Superbowl party on Sunday and at this party was fortunate to meet some people who love to ice climb. They told my friend and I about a place that was a mere 10 miles from my house that had great ice with a good variety of difficulty. I haven't ice climbed for years, but I never lost the urge to do it, just the means. My friend Scott and I had planned to spend our Monday hiking up one of the 14,000 footers that we haven't been on yet, but when we got talking about ice climbing, we decided to do that instead. Mary, one of the people whom we were chatting with at the party said that she had been out climbing that day, and that she would be willing to take us up to the area and lead a few pitches for us. So up we went! I was a bit nervous, as I haven't swung an ice axe in quite a while.
Also, when I am climbing with someone I don't know very well, I am always cautious because you never know what someone else perception of safe climbing is. It quickly became obvious that Mary knew what she was doing, which allowed me to relax and just enjoy the climbing. We climbed somewhat slow, which is to be expected as there were 3 of us and Scott and I forgot a lot of our efficiency habits, rope management, etc. For the first part of the climb it was snowing relentlessly, but as we got up to the top of the first pitch, the sun started to fight its way out and the snow abated. I felt great on the first pitch, a lot of techniques and craft came back to me as I moved up the climb. The second pitch was a bit tougher - at one point I pretty much lost the feelings in my fingers, which is not a happy feeling when you are using your hands to keep you from tumbling off the ice slope.
Luckily I pushed through the crux of the second pitch and was able to hurry up the snow slope to the anchor in time to put on my warmer gloves and keep all my fingers. Note to self - I need to buy better ice climbing gloves. Scotty came up behind me and we marched off to the snow chute located on the side of the climb for a fun glissade to the bottom. We topped off the day with a beer and some cheap Mexican food at the South Park Saloon in lovely downtown