Wednesday, March 6, 2013
I often think about what my partners bring, because it has an impact on my fun, experience and safety. I'm so excessively equipped relative to my objectives that the only real justification for having more gear is to share it. Usually it's sunglasses and gaiters. Recently I got some spare AT bindings, and mounted them as I'd yet to find an East Coast partner who had a ski setup which could be attached to climbing boots. When my oldest climbing partner excluding my brother and I went to the Adirondacks for a few days recently, most of what we get most years, this lesson was driven home hard. I had opted to use my very comfortable AT setup for a long, 5 mile plus approach by skis to Avalanche Lake. My partner had 35 year old Galibier Super Guides I'd bought at age 13. He correctly called for a break within the first mile, feeling the hot spots on his heels, first applying 2nd skin, then tape, then duct tape, and eventually giving up and sucking it up. We arrived to find no ice, which was just as well because it was 3 pm and February above 45 latitude. We skied out, using our climbing gear as training weight all the way. When we emerged after skiing from 11:30 am to 6:30 pm, the car took us back to a friend's hut, where much scotch, ale and dinner was applied to the raw-to-the bone heels of my partner. I'm quite sure if I had the same setup we would have turned around by mile 2 or 3 of our 11 mile 'taking the tools out for a walk'.
Ice is a finite resource. To get out safely I generally get up unreasonably early. I can't imagine climbing under another party being fun, and having fun is what it's about. I enjoy the edge, but not because I've put myself in a poor position. I had 4 hours recently before 20+ folks turned up at what is admittedly the practice cliff closest to New York City. But I still get very nervous when there are that many folks around, no matter how well we coexist.