Showing posts from December, 2014

Post-solstice blues

Solstice just passed. With barely eight hour of daylight and the occasional spell of minus-thirty weather, it may have felt like winter for some time already, but now it’s official. On my last outing, while attempting a chimney system on an obscure north face, spindrift repeatedly darkened the sky. At belays, Pete and I stamped our feet and swung our arms to avoid the dreaded “hot aches” (as my English companion euphemistically called them). Booting down a snow gully, the beams of our headlamps shone across a white, untracked surface, our steps from the morning already erased by fresh sloughs. “Avalanche!” Pete shouted. Instinctively I jumped to the side. Fortunately the slab that’d cut loose was a thin one. I enjoy winter climbing, I really do, but its pleasures can be of the masochistic variety. Maybe that’s why I’ve always liked climbing in late autumn: freshly formed ice, just a skiff of snow on the ground, temperatures barely below freezing... However, this past fall I didn’t