January 15, 2007

Cool Climbings

I made Peter watch Cool Runnings with me since he has never seen it, is actually from Calgary (the movie setting is the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary), and it's one of my favorite movies. In return, he took me ice climbing to Grotto Canyon with Dow and Stacy. This turned out to be an event of many firsts. My first time wearing crampons, my first time swinging ice axes, my first time trying to climb icicles instead of avoid them, and my first time in subzero temperatures for an extended period of time.

Peter and I hiked out early over the frozen river to climb Grotto Falls, an easy WI3. We saw another guy walking his dogs off the frozen river and a tour group that passed by us before Stacy and Dow eventually arrived. Despite the terribly cold temperatures, it was lucky we got out so early because this area is quite popular. After Grotto Falls, Peter led Hers, a WI4 pillar just to the right of His, a complementary WI4 climb. By this time, my fingers were pretty frozen and I was shivering from head to toe. Even though Chicago winters get pretty cold, there is never really a reason to be outdoors for a long time, so while I can handle short bursts of frigid wind, I was pretty unprepared as far as clothes and conditioning for really being outdoors in this weather. I gave Hers a try, but my fingers were so cold I couldn't really grasp the ice axes to swing and gave up before the top. Another pair had come to attempt His, but weren't able to finish it, and none of us tried either. Instead, we packed up and started hiking back to the cars after passing some Native rock art painted on one of the Canyon walls.

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