Every year, each season takes its own shape and form. This past ice season started earlier than I had expected, and I got in more ice days than I had in previous years. As the season nears its end, I was psyched to get in a few more enjoyable days with solid people.
I had the pleasure of working with an REI group on President’s Weekend. This course is listed as an introductory to ice climbing, but most of the individuals had rock climbing experience, so we were able to hit the ground running.
Tori picking a good route
On day one, they pushed themselves on the shorter but stout routes in Franconia Notch in sunny, 40-degree weather. We left the puffies in the bag, shed the layers, and took out our sunglasses for the day.
Henry starting up
Sehrish getting into the steeper stuff
They climbed so hard on the first day, I wondered how much they would have for day two at Kinsman Notch. They kept going. They applied and refined some technique we showed them and they made it up the harder climbs.
Nav and Meg at the top of their respective climbs
Every group has its own personality and bonds together in its own way. The individuals connected quickly, and their instant comradery was impressive. They offered belays without hesitation, took pictures of each other, and offered verbal support the entire weekend. The purpose of these weekend excursions is two-fold: to introduce/develop the ice climbing skills and knowledge and to have fun. This group accomplished both.
The next day, I took my two children ice climbing for the first time. We decided to get an early start at Kinsman to ensure that we would beat the crowds and get the route we wanted. Unlike the previous two days, the colder Monday temps resulted an icier approach. Instead of moving quickly up the trail with few layers on, as I did the day before, I moved more deliberately and spotted the kids at the many sections that had become slippery.
Watching my two young children battle both their fear and the ice, I marveled at their persistence and tenacity. Some of their struggles, like kicking their feet in or pulling the tool from the ice, are different than older climbers, but task of managing of fear remains present in us all. Seeing the juxtaposition between the two groups and the way each managed his or her own fear and excitement was quite insightful for me as climber, a guide, and a parent.
This recent warm stretch is melting most of the ice, resulting in a canceled trip this weekend and marking the end of my ice season. Fortunately, the rock season is around the corner. With more of these warm days, it might arrive early this year as well.