Left one paradise (Hawaii), fast replaced it with another (Colorado).  First ice climb in 2 years ❄

First time using Front Range Climbing Company in Lake George CO.  Have always hired a climbing guide (twice in Alaska, thrice  now in Colorado).  They provide the gear (like all winter sports, crazy expensive) PLUS I tend to push harder knowing that if/when I slip, someone experienced has my back/completely covered on belay.

Easy drive south on I-25 to Colorado Springs.  Exited west on Highway 24.  Manitou Springs, Woodland Park, Divide, Florissant, Lake George.  New roads, new places.  ADDED 3 things to my summer wish list: Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center & the Mueller Marathon (trail race in Mueller State Park/Divide).  If not this year, then 2019 🙂

Met up with climbing guide Dan at Starky’s General Store, then dirt-road travelled another 20 minutes to Elevenmile Canyon.  Been a super mild winter this season, wondering if I’d see ice.

Short half-mile walk thru a local Boy Scout Camp (Camp Alexander), frozen river ice cascaded over Rankin Gulch.  Boots/crampons, Helmet/goggles, Ice axe/tools & harness.  Three different pitches.  Would finish on the middle pitch, large ice lip challenge.

[Left Ro curled up in the Jeep.  Tired pup.  We off-leash hiked an hour before meeting up with Dan.]

 

On Belay.  Belay on.  Climbing.  Climb on.

First pitch (far right): re-familiarized myself with the equipment, easy climb.

Second pitch (far left): less stable ice.  Slipped twice, self-arrested w/ my axe.  No panic, on belay.  Remembered why I LOVE ice climbing.  Polar opposite of road marathoning.  It’s a thinking man’s sport.  Stop, think, select your path.  No set rule – YOUR path, YOUR comfort zone, climb to YOUR personal strengths.

Fast forward 2 hours: Middle pitch, last of the day.

Arms shaking.  Could not pull my body over the lip.  Backed down, hung for 5 minutes.  Attempted again.  Mentally spent, not happening.  Dan asked if I wanted help.  NO! I JUST WANT TO QUIT!  Breathe.  Better human response: WHAT WHAT should I do?  Reach high on your left.  Left foot dug in, right foot scrambling.  Hanging from a poorly placed strike.  I CAN’T DO THIS!  Plant your right axe.  Strike holds but my arm is burning/shaking like crazy.  Pulled off my glove, threw it below.  Cold is gonna propel me/Cold is my friend.  Reached out & struck, reached out & struck again.  Not a graceful finish (pushed up with a knee)…but finish I did.

Dinner in Deckers, overcast & windy, weather’s a changin’.   Sunday FUN-day, Colorado holiday ❤

 

 

Lake George Ice Climb

 

 

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