Tuesday, March 9, 2010
I forgot my camera, but got this picture that someone tagged of me on Facebook at the Ice Festival this weekend. Sunday was one of my happiest days in awhile. With the weight of heavy training lifted, I found myself hiking down Hunter Creek, pack on my back, my favorite boots on my feet, smile from ear to ear, without a single thing to think about except driving tools and crampons into ice while moving upward.
It really was a great day that started with me popping out of bed at 6:30 AM ready to go. That never happens, if I have to get up that early it's usually a crawl, with a lot whining for the next hour or two.
I drove up to Hunter Creek with a few co-workers that I conned into signing up for the Intermediate Course. We parted ways after hiking down into the creek as I went off with my group. It was fun to catch up with all the climbers, I hadn't realized how much I missed them until that day. I'd say the ice climbers I've met in Alaska are the most adventurous people I will ever meet. After telling everyone that I was essentially DONE training for the bike race that took me away for so long, plans were starting to be made.
I climbed with the advanced group where we learned how to move efficiently when doing multi-pitch climbs. I really haven't done much multi-pitch climbing because it always takes so long to just do one. I guess the more you climb the more efficient you become.
Later we got to do a "mock" lead on some steep ice. Hollowhead was the name of the climb that is pictured above. We weren't allowed to really lead, but to be honest, I don't think I would have had the nerve to actually lead this. It was Grade IV ice and I have only led up to Grade III. Mock leading is going through the motions of leading, but with the back up top rope.
The lead felt great actually and made me start thinking about stepping it up a bit and getting on some steeper ice in a real lead. It did feel sketchy for a few moves, but I didn't fall and placed all of the protection exactly as I would have if I had been leading for real. I tried to pretend that the top rope wasn't there.
The day ended in a fast hike out of the canyon and a fire and BBQ on the creek. My co-workers survived as well and hopefully I have created some new climbing partners! I can't wait to get back out on the ice. This weekend maybe.