Last weekend I had the pleasure of climbing ice for the first time with my buddy, Benn. Now, the last time I actually rock climbed with ropes, was probably at the age of 10…. almost two decades ago. So essentially, I have learned to ice climb before rock climbing. The fact that my first experience with ice happened in my backyard of Hyalite Canyon- a world class ice climbing destination- is a bonus that I’m probably not deserving of.
I’m lucky to have a friend like Benn, who has all the gear and the know-how, because taking climbing classes with a guide would have been much more expensive and intimidating.
After a quick belaying lesson run-down, Benn took off on the lead- trusting that I wouldn’t let him fall. It took him some time getting the rope up top, as it was his first climb of the year. And after, he let me loose. Climbing was slow, and terrifying. Unlike with rock, I felt like I had zero control of the situation. The points of the ice tools and the crampons were barely clinging to the ice. At the top, it was daunting to look down and lean back and trust that Benn wouldn’t drop me. When I was down, I couldn’t wait to do it again.
In all, we each did two laps up the ice- which was enough for my arms. It was an unbelievable experience. And although I might be starting climbing late in life, I hope to become proficient in all aspects of climbing, to further my ambitions in alpine sports. Climbing, mixed with technical mountain running, has opened up endless doors of opportunity for me. Ice climbing is just one more step to furthering my adventurous dreams…
On the drive back, I admitted to Benn that I’ve always had a fear of heights and that climbing just didn’t come naturally to me. I was contemplating what I was admitting, thinking of all the ways my fear could limit future possibilities, but Benn- the ever optimistic- suddenly smiled, “Yeah, but having a fear of heights just makes climbing probably more exciting for you than the rest of us.”