Having had a challenging but manageable day yesterday, we stepped it up a gear today. We’re both on the steep bit of the learning curve with ice climbing so we didn’t really know what we were capable of, but we both found out where are limits are today.
Krista found where her tolerance for fresh air runs out, at the start of the 2nd pitch of Chouinard’s Gully, 200 or so feet above Chapel Pond. We mutually agreed that setting off up the second pitch might be a bit too much for our 2nd day on ice, so we rappelled down (something Krista’s never done before and I haven’t done since I was about 10) and headed off into the canyon to find something a bit less airy. Considering that most of our climbing back home is done indoors, within 40 feet of a nice cushioned floor, and doesn’t involve having any sharp implements strapped to you, this morning’s effort was quite adventurous enough for now thanks!
It’s hard to say *exactly* where I ran out of bottle today, as I had quite a number of sketchy moments which combined to leave my nerves more frayed than an well-chewed dog toy. It’s only now that I’m back at the Lodge, in clean clothes, with a beer in my hand that I can start to think rationally about it. My first couple of laps of Lion’s On The Beach (WI4-, 80 feet) were fairly tidy, as was Krista’s lap. My 3rd attempt, up a thinner line, didn’t go so well. First one set of front-points sheared out, then the other. Then, just as I was frantically trying to kick a foot back in, one of my ice tools came loose (hardly surprising with 220lbs swinging on it). The end result was yours truly hanging by one arm, 40ish feet in the air, cursing, spraying ice all over the place, and our guide Bill casually muttering “well at least you kept one tool in”. Fucker.
My second “adventure” involved traversing across to the main anchor at the top of the route after removing the last directional ice screw. Fact: I can’t traverse on ice, any more than an elephant can do ballet. More slipping, cursing and “panic bear” poses.
The final “experience” was climbing Hot Shot (WI4-, 60 feet). It’s only 60 feet I told myself, and no harder than we’d climbed before. Frankly, numbers are bollocks. They’re meaningless. When I was climbing over the last bulge to the top-rope anchor, I didn’t care what grade it was, how long it was or what type of protection I had. I was fucking scared. I still can’t decide if the ringing noise was ice screws bouncing off each other on my harness, blood pounding in my ears, or my nerves jangling. Either way, I got up, I cursed, I came down. Job done. A good day’s work. Take us home Bill, it’s BEER TIME!!!