Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Early Season Ice

The fall begins to bring grey weather, and we, endorphin junkies, and fresh air addicts begin to get itchy. Trapped indoors as the rock gets desperately cold on the finger tips, the sun begins to hibernate, and there is not enough snow to strap toys to our feet. So, we start pulling on plastic, or hanging upsidown from dry tooling crags, with huge aspirations of climbing HARD this winter. Whispers float through the valley, does not matter if that Valley is Canmore's Bow Valley, or the Ouray's San Juans, or the Alps Chamonix Valley. It is like the childhood game of telephone. The keeners rise early, scraping frost from the dashboards, sipping coffee enroute to the crag, juggling butterflies of excitement and nervousness at the first day of swinging tools. Keenness and ambition often out weigh reason, and long approaches are made for thin slivers of ice, half formed routes, and unprotectable climbs. More often than not the day is spent making a long drive and approach to scare the crap out of yourself on one pitch and then to boldy back off and walk away blaming it on conditions.

As the cycle begins itself this year, I find myself in Banff, Alberta. My new tools and screws still with tags hanging on them despite being a year old, due to a broken hand last year. I fell prey to the process, of keenness, versus conditions, and headspace, of early season ice and got thrown wildly off the horse. After 60 foot fall, broken into two thirty foot sections, and two impacts, the ledge and the ground, last year I am a bit gun shy. The desire is there, but the butterflies are more like monsters, than pretty little fluttering insects in my belly.

Maybe this year I will wait to hear the words fat and juicy before I set out.

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