- May 13, 2013
- Reaction score
While I was hiking with my dog yesterday, I came across a small ice slab blocking the way up a cliff we needed to climb. Your post actually popped into my head. I studied the terrain and using a combination of footwork and a few trees, all while managing my dog and his leash made my way up. It was the same drill on the way down, albeit more carefully, a 60 lb Australian Shepard can be tenacious, lol. I was thinking about your question and it seems that it's not an ice axe that is the issue, although for sure you could use some beta on tools, but I thought technique for climbing the occasional ice bulge would go longer in the beneficial dept. I was able to assess the situation and come up with a reasonable plan to climb the ice without an ice axe. I would consider signing up for a one-day private guide in North Conway, I could recommend a few if you need that. While it's not cheap, learning firsthand a variety of techniques from someone skilled would be worth every penny and the experience you gain would be with you for the rest of your climbing career. I have hired private guides myself in the past, I went private for a few reasons. One, I want the focus on my specific needs, I don't want to stand around waiting for someone to learn what I already know, secondly, you can cover a lot of ground one on one. Anywho, I think mountaineering is a learned skill, I get to go out every week and do, not having that option can increase the learning curve to years. One day of guiding can be the equivalent of years of trial and error. Hope that helps.
When there are trees it is much easier. I'm talking about those wide areas overflowing over scrambles where trees are non existent. I know how to place my feet but it just feels unsecure when there is nothing to grab with my hands walking up a fairly vertical flow. I should try to find a better picture of what I'm talking about in my photos. Rocks and other obstacles often make reaching for a tree more dangerous or impossible.
Your point, like others have mentioned, is well taken though. I'm sure I'd benefit from a lesson addressing the specific issue that concerns me. With a 3-4 hour drive (1 way) for a hike in the Whites limiting my # of trips and the variability of conditions each season I only run into this scenario maybe a few times a year so practicing and gaining experience does come slowly if at all. I'd like to eventually start doing the lesser traveled trails in Winter like I do in Summer so gear and skills are both a requirement. Wish I was closer....