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Ice! December 12, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in climbing, Love and Death.
Tags: , , ,

In the mid-70s a rock climbing friend introduced me to the world of ice climbing, and I’ve been a supplicant ever since.  Something about the surreality of being suspended on a slippery surface above a world of whirling white is so transporting that my fondest memories of my most significant climbs are but dreams, with trepedacious beginnings  and triumphant endings bracketing a phantasm of terror and bliss which isn’t easily explained to a non-climber.

I’ve been worshiping at the impermanent altar of ice for the last thirty-five years, and it’s never failed to tie my stomach in knots, cause my knees to buckle and draw from me the kind of impossible effort which lifts life from a mundane plane to sublime heights.

This winter I’m counting on a kind of rebirth, after the death of my rotator cuffs, of the dream of flying over a frozen landscape.  I’ve been hitting the gym in search of my formerly physical self, and while I’ll never again be young and whole, I’m determined to be all that I can presently be (short of joining the Army.)  I’ve gone from the clinically proclaimed impossibility of doing pull-ups to my present situation of doing four sets of twelve, a tribute I suppose to the power of feeble mind over decrepit matter.

This Saturday was the season’s first intersection of ability, opportunity and conditions, and I assembled the necessary gear to give it a go.

The nearby Zoar roadcuts were in really nice condition for a December technique tune-up, and I took advantage of it, hefting the tools, finding my balance, and relaxing into the rhythm, kick-kick, stand, swing, center, kick-kick:

The thirty-foot sub-vertical pillars ceded me the freedom of going ropeless, concentrating on the flow of climbing in liew of the technicalities of engineering a protection system, and I exulted in the freedom of movement in the improbable realm of frozen verticality.

After several seasons of loss and longing, it felt great to be flowing again.

It also offered me a chance to try my camera’s new wireless remote release, clicking away as I worked up the ice, and bringing you this shot.

Now that I know how it works, I’ll be boring you to tears with my new toy.

May the Force be with you!