March 4th, 2016
That’s right, my friends, we are just PILING on ALL the new adventures!
This here is a picture of Paige standing in front of Genesis 1 one of many ice flows that can be found in Hyalite Canyon just south of Bozeman. Hyalite is a fabulous hiking area, and I’ve visited many times during the summer. Apparently, however, Hyalite is most GLOBALLY renowned as the most concentrated natural ice climbing venue in North America and hosts an annual Ice Climbing Festival, all of which is pretty darn cool.
I knew of the festival before coming out to Bozeman in February partly from my sister and also from my friend, Matt, from back in NH. He’s big into ice climbing and flew out this past December to take part in the festival. Guess who’s getting someone to go out with her when she gets back to New Hampshire???????
Turns out that ice climbing works much the same way as rock climbing in terms of setting up a rope and whatnot. Above pictured is ANOTHER new friend, Joe, doing a lead climb up the ice. The biggest difference here is that Joe had to set up his anchor points as he went using ice screws that look like this:
If you’re a person is likes seeing abundantly satisfying things, look no further than seeing these ice screws in action.
We arrived around 4:30 in the afternoon/evening. The canyon was already cast in shadow, but we were pumped to be there!
After Joe laid the top rope, Paige went up the wall, killing it with her first try!
Then Sam went up while his dog, Jack, insisted that I keep throwing ice chunks down the hill for him to chase.
Paige and Joe asked if I was going to climb. “I don’t have any gear!” I said, “I was just planning on watching.”
“No, you’ve got to climb!” exclaimed Paige, “You can just use my gear!”
Luckily, Paige’s gear actually fit me (the miracle that is having the average female shoe size), and my friends’ confidence in me convinced me to give it a whirl. So, as darkness began settling in on the canyon, I strapped on crampons, pulled up Paige’s climbing harness, and began up the wall.
I was pleasantly surprised by how straightforward the climb was! I did as Joe instructed, moving my feet up under me in a squatting position with my arms fully stretched above, then pushing up into a standing position before moving each of my hands for the next pull up the ice.
Full disclosure, this was a pretty basic piece of ice, but heck! it was my first ice climb ever! I didn’t fall once, and it felt awesome.
We stuck around and kept climbing in the full dark, and climbing in the dark is a whole different beast. I attempted the next wall over that was considerably more difficult, and had to call it quits. For one; my headlamp kept falling off, and two; I fell a pretty good distance at one point and couldn’t get out of me head afterwards. The self doubt began to creep in, and I decided not to push it this time. Even so, if anyone had asked me two weeks ago if I thought I would have ever had the opportunity to climb ice I would have given a definitive no.
It was deep dark when we started down the hill back to the car. Paige and I stopped and turned off our headlamps, turning our faces towards the blanket of stars that are only visible when you’re far enough away from town and city. “Ohhhh yeah!” I thought, “THIS is what it’s about.”
Thanks again to the friends that get me out there, teach me new things, and let me use their gear!