International Man of Mystery...

My photo
I grew up in the Boston area and lived there until my junior year in high school when I attended the Mountain School, a semester program run by Milton Academy in Vershire, VT. I then attended Colby College in Waterville, ME. During my time at Colby I studied anthropology, spent a semester in Northeast India, and became fluent in Nepali. Before I became a guide I earned my black belt in kenpo karate and taught karate for 6 years. I began guiding in college on the rocky coast of ME with Acadia Mountain Guides and on ice at the International Mountain Climbing School in NH. After graduating I took to the highway and drove from ME to WA for the big mountains and glaciers. I spend my winters in lovely Ouray, CO guiding in the famous ice park. I am currently working towards becoming a certified guide through the American Mountain Guides Association. I live, work and play in the hills and on the rocks. On the rocks both literally and, well, with ice.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Advice on Early Season Ice Climbing

The internet is buzzing with questions about ice conditions. Blogs, forums and other internet resources are great ways for people tocheck the ice conditions early season when they can be uncertain. I don't know about the rest of Colorado but the ice in the San Juans is definitely IN.

Call me an old traditionalist but my favorite way to check the conditions is to load my pack with ice and rock gear and go see what looks good for myself. One handy trick for this sort of early season climbing is not to sharpen your tools or crampons yet. Excited ice climbers often sharpen their gear to get ready for their first day out. unfortunately thin ice and little snow cover means you are likely to swing or kick your nice sharp point into a rock. You will do less damage and extend the life of your gear if you wait to sharpen it until the ice is fat.

I really enjoy early season ice. The thin candled ice is a bit more interesting to climb than the fat sheets of blue verticality. While the ice is thin, with a few stubby ice screws protection is ample. The ice is are getting fat though, and there is lots of snow in the mountains. as a matter of fact I saw the biggest avalanche of my life that showered us with dust at Ouray's Camp bird road. Needless to say, I have a new respect for the power of tons of sliding snow! I managed to get a photo of us in the dust cloud.

No comments:

Post a Comment