Ice ClimbingJuly 21, 2016 foxmountain_adminAlpine & Ice Climbing AMGA Courses Guiding
As the summer guiding season comes to an end, I finally have some time to write. Also my thoughts begin to wander towards what is to come. Most rock climbers are getting excited about the fall temps with drier air. Fiction will be plentiful and many projects will fall to those who have been training over the past few humid months. But for me, I am more excited about the cold temps that tend to follow the cool of the fall. I cannot wait for winter to get here.
I thoroughly enjoy climbing in the winter, particularly the ice climbing. I have been ice climbing since 2008 when I took a trip to Ouray, Colorado. There I was blown away at how much fun climbing frozen water can be. I loved it so much that upon my return to Illinois, I began scheming of ways to go back to Ouray. The plans were never put into action and I remained in Illinois for a few more years. During those years, I did begin to purchase boots, crampons, and ice tools. That same winter, the weather was cold enough to form some of the waterfalls at Jackson Falls into ice climbs.
The next winter I did my first ice leads in North Carolina and in New Hampshire. I was hooked. That next winter I did as much ice climbing as I could so that I would be able to take the ice instructor course.
This past winter I took the AMGA’s Ice Instructor Course in Ouray, Colorado. It was nice to go back to the place where I started ice climbing to take this course which would giving me the training to more effectively guide waterfall ice terrain. Later that winter I went up to New Hampshire as we do every year at Fox Mountain Guides but this year was different; I would be guiding.
Every year we look forward to this trip. For us it gives us a change of scenery and some of the best ice climbing in the country in which to take our clients and have a bit of fun. This last year I had the privilege to co-teach two courses, the Ice 101 and the Advanced Ice Course which was brand new this year.
The 101 course is exactly what it sounds like, it teaches you the basics. We begin with learning how to use crampons and ice tools and spend the next few days improving on the techniques involved in climbing ice. It is a great time where as an instructor I get to see our guests improve vastly in just a few days.
I also had the opportunity to co-teach the newest course for Fox which was the advanced ice course with Karsten. In this course we taught the students the techniques involved in leading ice and handling steeper terrain. On the second day of the course some students get on the sharp end and led their first ice climbs. One guest who did their first lead on the advanced course did their first ice climb only a week before in the 101 course.
People always ask me which I like better, rock climbing or ice climbing. Ice climb does seem like more of a treat. I am only able to climb ice for a short period every winter. Also, climbing on a medium that changes constantly fascinates me. Rock routes very rarely change over time but ice routes can change in a matter of hours and are different from one day to the next. I also like that the inherent risks are different than with rock climbing. Though there is a chance of rock fall and holds breaking while climbing on rock; on ice, this is a guarantee. This route will fall down at some point and ice will come off of it. Engaging this risk in a calculated manner makes ice climbing more interesting.
This winter you can come join myself and the other guides at Fox Mountain Guides in New Hampshire for one or all of our winter courses. Check out the link below and the video with footage from last year’s trip.