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On Ice. February 10, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in climbing, Love and Death.
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Last weekend was the Mount Washington Valley Ice Festival, a great excuse for ice climbers from throughout the Northeast to get together and socialize, attend slide shows by well traveled professionals (this year, Steve House who is, besides being very entertaining, a climber of extraordinary ability and admirable humility,) and perhaps even climb a bit.

This year also marked my return to some measure of climbing after a couple of years away from it, due to an absolutely total lack of rotator cuffs and a failed surgical attempt to remedy that situation.

My shoulders are, in fact, junk.  They say I’m lucky to be able to comb my non-existent hair, but you know, the dysfunctional combination of my passion for climbing and the fact that I’m a wicked slow learner found me strapping on crampons and ice axes along side the guides and students at Cathedral Ledge this past Saturday afternoon.

Our friend Chris lead up what should have been easy terrain for experienced climbers:

That’s close to thirty feet of what passes for vertical ice up at the top, and it was exciting watching Chris take it on, especially because he didn’t bother to place any ice screws ’till about where he is in this photo, and a fall at that point would have been disastrous.

But Chris is a strong young man and kept his cool, finishing the climb without incident:

Both Lizz and I worked our tails off in our attempts to follow.  I’ll admit to employing 35 years of experience to get up the thing in relatively good style, no thanks to my non-compliant shoulders.

This is a far cry from the “good ol’ days,” say ten years ago, when I climbed Repentance,  an area test-piece which is exceptionally thick in this photo taken Saturday:

That’s nearly 400′ of thin, vertical ice choking a crack system, with a couple of red-clad climbers visible about 300′ up.  In case you can’t see them in this little photo, here’s a telephoto shot, courtesy of my little Canon point-and-shoot:

This is considered to be exceptionally “thick” conditions, and therefore “easy,” compared to the shape it was in when I did it.

This weekend convinced me that I’m not done, not gone by, not ready for a rocking chair.  I’ve procured a gym membership and am working my way back.  I’m going to climb Repentance again, or perhaps Remission,  its more difficult twin a little to its right, which had been on my wish list for decades.

Yes, Remission will do.   It’s back on my list.

With or without my damned shoulders.

Comments»

1. sherry - February 11, 2010

you go for it!!!

2. susan - February 13, 2010

The shots alone are pretty scary for someone like me who tends to suffer vertigo on a step ladder but even I can see the attraction. It must be frustrating as hell not being able to do what was once a doddle. I wish you the very best in reaching your goal.

3. littlebangtheory - February 13, 2010

Thanks, Ladies. It’ll be a long road , but I’m taking those first steps.


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