Ice and rock are very different things to climb on. Well, yes, that should be obvious to just about anyone. But when it comes to things that are solid walls and the act of progressing up them, you’d think there could only be so much variation. It all really comes down to this one point: where you can hold onto rock, you cannot hold onto ice. This leaves the climber in the position of making a place to hold onto with the movement of each of their limbs. This includes constant kicking of the crampons to lodge your feet firmly in place, while furiously and accurately digging with the ice picks tied to your hands. In rock climbing, the climber is constantly ‘fighting’ the mountain, but this can be said much more literally for ice walls.
And so we return from another trip here at Outdoor Adventures. It’s been almost a week now, and the majority of my lower legs are still covered with a wonderful color pallet of bruises. At least the soreness has finally gone away, and climbing stairs is no longer a dreaded activity. However, there still sits with me a feeling of pure awesomeness. We climbed up frozen waterfalls, desperately digging into them with each step as to not fall upon the jagged ice left in our wake. After each climb, we stood atop the wall, our sharp instruments held high in triumph, our spike lined boots clutching the conquered wall.
We fought the earth, and we had won.
It wasn’t even that cold. Our days were spent lounging in snow banks warmed by the sun when we weren’t climbing. And at night we searched for food; such as a fantastic Mexican buffet or an elusive Dairy Queen. And of course, there was no better end to the day then a rest in a hot tub.
I’d like to thank the folks at Adams State Adventure Program in Alamosa, CO for being fantastic guides to the climbing sites. They even showed us a bit of the wildlife from the area, such as a great deal of elk, a fox, and one very unfortunate dear (I hope your truck gets better…)
One more adventure in the books, another story to tell. More memories to keep us warm on those cold Colorado nights.
Stephen Hayden, SMU Outdoor Adventures Trip Leader.