Waiting for the Moment

No ice? No problem!

In surfing, you wait for the waves.

For skiing, it needs to snow.

With rock climbing, the cliff is always there.

But ice climbing is different. Ice climbing is all about conditions, and perhaps that’s what makes it so appealing. As climbers, it’s the one thing we do where the right conditions are essential. In many ways, we’re lucky like that. In the spring, it’s not like we have to wait for the bolts to sprout, if the weather is good, we just go climbing. But for ice, it all has to come together. Water, cold, snow, freeze, thaw. And when everything does line up, and that ephemeral drip touches down, or that pillar fattens up just enough, we get to release our anxious hope by swinging our tools up frozen castles.

This is shaping up to be one of the worst ice seasons that Redstone has seen in a long time. Coming off a dry year with no water, we didn’t get snow until December. Then it was super cold, and it seems that any water from the snow is locked up, frozen solid. But even in these terrible conditions, there are still things to climb, and they suddenly seem all the more special, given the scarcity of good ice.

And in a place like Redstone, where so many climbs come in for a short period of time and then are gone tomorrow, there is a sense of urgency. If you don’t go look every couple days, you might miss out on that route of a lifetime you saw that one time several years ago.

I don’t get out on the ice as much as I once did, but the magic of scouting for lines, scoping conditions, hoping things are in, is a feeling I can’t ever shake. Every time I drive up the Crystal River valley this time of year, I’m like a kid in a candy store, keeping out a keen eye for what special secret might be lurking just around the next corner. Maybe tomorrow it’ll come in, maybe tomorrow…

One Response to Waiting for the Moment

  1. Still going strong in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We’ll be climbing for another month at least.

    Nic March 27, 2013 at 7:52 pm
Locals Corner

Bulldog Creek Dog Walk (IV WI 4+)

Hayden Carpenter and Tom Bohanon recently repeated an obscure ice climb on the south side of Mt Sopris. Given a brief mention in Jack Robert’s ice guide, Bulldog Creek Walk is described as being 100 meters of WI 4. What they found was seven pitches of ice in a remote setting that makes for one […]

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