We actually managed to get out ice climbing this past weekend! This year has been good for ice climbing further north, but closer to Barrie (two hours or so drive) has been warm, wet, super cold or dangerous blizzard conditions. Add to that wisdom tooth surgery and busy days and the winter soon slips away from you.
Saturday saw us heading up to Kushog. I had woken up at 6am to get an early start and thankfully this enabled us to hop onto Caramel Coating (WI2) and have the whole wall to ourselves. It seemed busy at the crag. Two climbing schools passed us heading to other routes. I’m sure they wanted to get on Caramel Coating but weren’t as early as us.
Chris’s good friend Adam and his wife, Akane, arrived a few minutes after us and met us at base of the cliff. Their friend Trey came for his first adventure on ice. It was Akane’s second time on ice and she and Trey took to it like ducks to water.
It was my first lead of 2018 and the climb was fat and fun. The early morning ice was hard and brittle at the start of the day and plastic and melting toward nightfall. I won’t pretend that I climbed the route gracefully but I was comfortable and placing screws and moving up didn’t prove too much of a problem. I was just having a tonne of fun!
We set up two top ropes and for the rest of the day the five of us ran up and down every inch of the ice. Depending on which side you ventured, you could run up WI2 or WI3 and squirm vertical sections, corners or humpy flows. It was a case of picking your own adventure on the wide flow.
We had a bunch of gear to play with as well, thanks to Trey who works at MEC in Toronto. I had the Cassin X-All ice tools that I had purchased last year. Trey had a pair of Cassin X-Dreams, and Adam had his Petzl Nomics. If there was ever a doubt that modern tools really do work then Chris proved it by bringing his bashers! With more hammer and adze than axe, these tools promise a fun day. I enjoyed the X-Dreams very much and they seemed to stick well although I’m not experienced enough to really be able to tell the difference between them and the X-All axes.
The great thing about the climbing was that we were out the whole day and moving quickly. I didn’t suffer from any over-grip, arm fatigue or tiredness. This is probably testament to my recent 12lbs weight loss and the training in the gym and rock gym I’ve been doing. What a fantastic sign for this year’s rock climbing!!
We’re having warm and wet weather at the moment, and it looks like it will be like that for the next couple of weeks. Who knows what the overnight lows will bring or whether we will be able to get out on ice again. But it might not matter. Last weekend was probably one of the best, most friendly-fun days I’ve spent on ice. If every climbing day of 2018 could be as fun and happy then it’ll be a hell-of-a-season!