Why I Ice Climb

December 2009: Leader fall
results in 6 fractures.
Sense of humor remains unbroken.

(by Charlie Winger)

I meet new people every week; unfortunately they all work in the emergency room. Perhaps it’s just that warm feeling I get after the pain of the “screaming barfies” subsides. But then, who could deny one the pleasure of freezing your ass off at the bottom of a climb while your partner places yet another damn ice screw which you’ll have to extract if he ever tops out. And how could I omit “the thrill of victory” and the agony of “de feet,” assuming you can still feel your feet.

Ice climbing usually doesn’t involve the “French technique” like snow climbing or kissing your lady friend does, although I’ve pulled frozen skin from my lips as a result of placing a frigid ice screw in my mouth while fumbling with gear.

Those “zippers” you end up with on your face are usually worth at least one brew at the local pub; that’s a real plus. And, who can say you didn’t do a first ascent when the ice changes by the week? There are bragging rights to be had and that could be worth another cold one at the pub given the right audience. See, ice climbing is starting to make some sense (or is that nonsense?).

For me, the fun of getting out the tools, sharpening the screws and crampons, leaves me with a sense of anticipation not unlike going on that first date with someone very special. Its just indescribable. Now, if I was just a better climber…

(For Diane’s take on all this, read Why I DON’T Ice Climb)

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