Saturday, November 16, 2013

Old Friends and Celebrations

My partner is quick to point out that the act of climbing is a celebration. I hadn't thought of it that way, but I don't disagree. As I write this, according to World Bank, nearly 20% of the world's population is without good access to electricity and 35% is without adequate sanitation. So, for the rest of us that can find the time to sleep in a heated space, take hot showers, eat the things we like, and peruse our favorite websites, yes, the act of climbing is truly a celebration of a wonderful existence.

Over the years, I've climbed the Black Dike on Cannon Cliff many times. At first, when I was newer to climbing, it felt challenging. On the second pitch crux, the hooks didn't seem secure and the climbing felt boxy and awkward. As an objective, it never felt impossible but it was always challenging. Protection also felt like a real issue, and the fall potential felt huge.

By now I've climbed the dike many times. It seems like I only climb it during the early season, as a way to usher in the new ice season. I climbed it again this season -  last week, during a short cold snap. I lost my hands to the cold while wallowing through deep snow on the first pitch. After that it felt like pure celebration, and I was reminded why I love winter climbing so much. Positive hooks abound on the second pitch and pitch 3 has secure and mellow ice climbing.

My partners for the day were Dustin Portzline and Pete Guyre, two local Gunks guides that are eager to learn more about winter climbing. For them it was a first, and an introduction to Northern New England climbing - snowy weather and strong winds routinely make conditions more challenging than they might be if the weather was perfect.

Pete and Dustin led, and they did a great job. I was able to follow pitches and celebrate life, movement and friendship. Thanks Pete and Dustin for an awesome day! Here are a few photos from the day:

Dustin Portzline at the crux.

Matt Ritter and Erik Thatcher on the
 Cannonade buttress

Pete leads. It was a cold day for early
 November.