For anyone at all interested in Ice Climbing Will Gadd is kind of the man. Will is at the top of the sport, continually pushes the line and is still learning. If you haven’t read his post on How Not To Suck yet go ahead and do so now. In it he says “I do not think it’s possible to have much understanding of ice until you have done at least 150 pitches of it.”. When I started picking the frozen tears of mountains I took this to heart and began logging ever single one of my TR pitches. Vowing to myself and my climbing partners that I would not lead Ice until I had a full appreciation and understanding of how it reacts in many many scenarios. Well today was a good day. While not quite the 150 pitches I promised Will I would complete before leading, I crossed the 100 pitches mark today.
The past two season have involved seriously attacking this 150 pitch goal. As a treat to myself today for crossing into triple digits I took my hundredth lap on the sharp end. “It looks straight forward / I would solo that / whats the worst that could happen?” More like famous last words.
Pounding, scraping, digging & shovelling, this was not the perfect ice I had hoped for. Instead layers of rotten ice collapsed under the crushing weight of my picks and kicks. The good ice took refuge 18 inches down. I cranked that last screw once too deep turning the faucet on and giving the waterproofing on my kicks & gloves a good test. The gloves didn’t pass (Note to self never skip on the spare pair). I hugged the tree at the top while calling off belay and tying in. All in all a great day, all smiles. Can’t wait for the next milestone 150 pitches. Until then, keep kicking hard – patience is an underestimated quality.