Saturday, December 01, 2007

Ice climbing

I took the local climbing club's ice climbing class last (in 2006) August and September where we practiced climbing ice in the crevasses of some glaciers on Mt. Hood, and then, in January of this year, went to Ouray, Colorado for a week of waterfall ice climbing for which I just received the pictures that were collected from various cameras.

One little aside picture from the class was this aureole around our shadows. We were on a ridge, with our shadows in the valley, and the sun, behind us. Now, I understand where all of those religious images come from! I have now seen this, twice, with the second time being when I was on Mt. Baker - also on a mountain ridge, early morning, sun beaming down into the mist-filled valley.

During our Ice-climbing week in Ouray, Colorado, we experienced mostly crisp, clear, sunny, but still COLD days - this is, after all, *ice* climbing. . . The ice of the waterfalls was really nice to climb. For one thing, most of the time, they weren't just straight up, ninety degree slopes, and had nice resting places, so that more than just the front points of my crampons could be in the ice. (Click on picture to get full sized version.)See? Not STRAIGHT up. . .

This climb started out ok:
But at the dry spot above where my head is now, it was a tad difficult. In this next one, you can also get just a glimpse of my belayer (person who is on the other end of the rope, taking it up as I climb), above me:

In the following picture, I was looking for a place to put my tool. This is called "dry tooling" and as I recall, now, it wasn't a particularly "comfortable" feeling. I felt a lot better putting the tools in ice, rather than in rock.
It was the pillar to the left of the dry spot that was the most difficult for me. And I complained that the picture taker (a luxury, really - after all, *I* hadn't brought a camera with me, and so I was lucky that anyone took pictures of me, at all!) didn't take a picture while I was climbing up the pillar, but he was too busy giving me advice that was failing me (put your left foot there - yeah - there - WHOOPS! (as the chunk of ice breaks and there is no foothold at all) - I guess that didn't work, huh?). I'll tell you, it didn't look as hard to me when the other guys were doing it! They made it look easy!

I think that that was one of the last climbs we did that day. With all of the snow just pummelling down, we decided to pack it up and go back to the hotel. Here are some of the folks that I climbed with that day as we're packing up all of the gear (L-R, Jae, Aaron, Me, Terry with arms outstretched). We'd already taken off our crampons, but still had our helmets (mine is bright orange, under my hat) and harnesses on:

This one seems to be of me being lowered down, after climbing, as my ice tools are not up and over my head (I'm the one on the left):

In my opinion, it all looks easier than it is, although I think that I found this (artifically created) waterfall ice climbing easier than ice climbing on the super compacted ice in the crevasses of the glaciers.


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