If you are a follower of the JTA then you know what Will Gadd says is gospel. Never fall on lead & 150 pitches, “What Would Will Do” passes through my mind on the reg. Who are we to question the most prolific ice climber in Canada and arguably the world. At the outset of this journey I set out with the intention of following his advice that one should have at least 150 x 30m TR pitches of ice under their belt before jumping on the sharp end. At the tail end of last season, I put up a WI2+ to celebrate my 100th pitch. Even though this was outside of my promise I felt completely prepared and know it was well within my ability.
As this season got underway we did not notice any back steps in skill / endurance and in fact have noticed a significant improvement over last season mostly in the form of technique / efficiency. This past weekend, a crew of 5 NS ice climbers made the trek up to New Brunswick to experience what they have to offer. We were blown away. A 4 hour drive and 1 hr approach from home base landed us on some incredible lines and square in the middle of a snowy & icy adventure.
And so I must apologize to Will. I did not live up to my promise of leading ice only after completing 150 pitches. I tracked each pitch diligently with every intention of following through. But when the opportunity presented itself to lead a beautiful 30m WI4 on my 147th cumulative pitch, everything in me said with 100% confidence I would onsight, I seized the day. And so I say to Will “You were wrong, get with the times, you only need 147 TR’s to know when you are prepared”.
I did cross the 150 pitch mark the following day in Parlee and do feel I’m now able to assess my ability and the conditions confidently. I know what I should and should not get on. The basic premise of which is if something is over my head, in my head, or I will be pumping out I have no business leading it. Throw a TR on or second someone better than yourself. I want every lead to feel as smooth and confident as this past weekend at the Hatchery in NB.
To the New Brunswick community, I am supremely impressed with what you’ve put up and can’t wait for the next trip to scope out the dozens of other locations!