Monday, January 21, 2013

Sara Goes Ice Climbing

 Sara asked Chuck if he would take her ice climbing, so they went this afternoon.  I joined in the capacity of official photographer.  By and large, I like trying new things; but I sense that ice climbing would be a perfect storm of things I suck at. I was happy to just tag along.  I had a few chores to do around the house, so I let them go about 20 minutes ahead of me.  I figured that would give them time to mess with gear, and that I would get there just as the excitement was beginning. 

Chuck planned to take Sara to a waterfall that is not on the radar of the ice climbing crowd.  Too small:  a series of three little falls; each about 8 feet high.  Perfect for beginners.  He told me, "Just follow our boot prints - you'll find us."  So I set off and followed the boot prints.  For a looooong way!  I knew the prints were theirs because there were no other human tracks in such deep snow and isolated terrain; and also because Sara would occasionally write things like, "Hi, Mom!"  or "Hey!" in the snow with her glove.

It has been bitterly cold here for the last couple of weeks, so the snow has a very strange consistency - dry as sand and just as loose.  I was wallowing in  thigh-deep powder for most of the trek. 
 This is looking back at how much I had climbed when I finally caught sight of them ahead of me.  They were still climbing themselves, struggling to break a trail. That line way down there is the canyon road.  So we clambered up the powdered mountainside.  As the going got steeper and steeper, I would grab any twig that emerged from the snow and scrabble for traction on the springy underbrush underneath me. 

I "Haloo-ed" those guys as they got close to the waterfall.  Sara called down, "Mom!  Look out for the dead deer!"  "Where?"  "Right here!  We just climbed on it!"  "I dunno, does it have hair on it, still?  I could use a little traction."  She looked disgusted.  "NO!  It's just bones and fluff!"

 Actually, I think it is a mountain goat rather than a deer.  There are a lot of them in this part of the canyon; and the bits of hide and hair I found were white and woolly.
 At any rate, here is the waterfall.  Chuck went up first, to fix the rope.  Both of them suffered badly from the cold.  Neither had great gloves,and I guess the ice makes your hands really cold.  Plus, we had been wallowing in the snow, so it was down our backs, in our boots, etc.  
 Here, Chuck is fixing the rope with ice screws.  I am right up there because I climbed up along the side of the waterfall.  More wallowing, but not slippery.
 OK, here goes Sara, on belay
She did make it to the top of the pitch and rappel back down.  But she was miserable.  Her fingers were that cold.  When she reached the bottom, she started to cry and I had to unzip my jacket and stuff her fingers into my armpits.  She has declared that ice climbing is "not for her".  It was a lot of effort in order to discover that, but oh well.  We all got good exercise. 

1 comment:

  1. But she did it, well done Sara!
    I've decided by the pictures that it's not for me either.