This is one of the oldest pages on In an effort to keep some perspective, I have left anything from before 2000 in it's original format.


My First Ice Lead | Loch Vale, RMNP (WI2+)
		We got a late start, due to wine consumption at the sushi bar the night
before, so we opted for a day of ice cragging at Loch Vale. I had recently
bought a pair of DMM Aliens which I had never swung, and 5 ice screws that I
had never placed so I was excited at the prospect of actually leading on

    My only real problem was that my Karakorams (boots) have been worn so much that
the front bail lip is completely gone. I have step-in crampons so I couldn't
wear my crampons. When my partner Lisa produced a pair of alpine
strap-on crampons that I could use, we were on. The only problem was that they were 10
point, alpine crampons that were sharp enough to be safe in the hands of a 4
year old. What the hell though, we came to lead ice and that was the plan. I
reasoned that people have climbed way harder stuff with way worse gear.

    I racked up and started climbing the initial low angle stuff to get up to
the steep ice. I felt a little off in the crampons because they flexed so
much, but they were attached to my boots solidly. Most of the people I had
seen leading had gone up 5- 10 feet before placing any protection but I was uneasy
and placed a 22cm screw and put a screamer on it before leaving the low
angle stuff. My tools stuck great but were hard to get out. Better than the
opposite I figured.

    I think I noticed my calves burning at about 10 feet. My toes
were also starting to hurt from kicking hard with the dull
crampons, but I was leading ice!!! I was pretty much having more fun than
anyone on the planet so the toe pain was easily ignored. I got to a better
stance and pulled my hand out of my glove to place a screw. I threw one of
my double ropes over the head of my left tool for a little mental
reassurance. Then I realized that I didn't know what to do with my glove
because I had zipped my coat tightly. I ended up pinning in under my left
hand and hoping I wouldn't drop it. At this point I was thinking how
different it would be to be high on a big mountain route and be so careless
with my gloves. (I have a lot to learn!)

    I got the screw in and eventually got my glove back on and continued
climbing. The ice seemed kind of brittle but I felt confident. I climbed up
a bit farther and then made a mistake I'm still dealing with as I type
this two days later. I pulled a screw off my rack and put the damn thing in
my mouth to rearrange my gloves. DOH!!!  Have I never seen A Christmas Story
or what? It was the flagpole scene immediately. Rip, one less layer of skin
on my lips. I'll not do that again.

    I got the screw in and climbed up to the next placement. I was close
enough to go for the top but I decided to be conservative since it was my
first time. 

    I finished the climb and setup a TR from a tree. I lowered off and finally
relaxed a bit. It wasn't hard and it wasn't long, but it was scary and fun,
and I want to go do it again right away!

lessons learned:
Leave gloves on it possible
Ridged crampons really help
My picks are hard to get out of ice
NEVER put metal in your mouth in winter
Keep toenails really short
Once you start to place  a screw, don't stop
Chopping the ice away before you start to place a screw is important
BD Express screws are worth the extra money
Down jackets kick ass for belaying

Various Ice Climbing Pictures from RMNP.


Lisa, always with a smile, getting her secret weapon (down jacket) out for a cold day at Loch Vale. 



Guillaume climbing a broken pillar at Loch Vale.


Guillaume commits to the crux of the pillar. It was a few feet longer when I started climbing it. Unfortunately, it broke off as I was climbing it and I took my first fall of the day.


This route is called Mixed Feelings. (M5) You climb overhanging rock up to the ice curtain and then swing out onto the ice. Fun Stuff!


A shot of Guillaume rappelling from Mixed Feelings.


Looking up at Mixed Feelings. Guillaume is barely visible at the top. (white helmet)


Lisa and Andrew hiking in to Loch Vale.


A nice shot of Lisa and Andrew. This was the first time we convinced Andrew to climb ice. He prefers rock climbing in the warm sun.


Getting ready for a day of standing around in the cold. 


Climb on!


This was another day at Loch Vale when we climbed mostly mixed routes. I bloodied my upper lip on this climb when a tool popped off the rock and hit me in the face. DOH!!!


Guillaume rappelling from an interesting mixed climb. We climbed the dead tree up to the thin ice above.


Starting up the tree. This was actually quite fun. I may have to find a telephone pole if I get too bored.




This was one of the harder mixed lines. I fell several times. Note that I am standing on the tips of my front points in a tiny strip on ice (left and on a tiny rock edge (right).


Getting ready to pull up onto some really delicate ice.




Guillaume and Jennifer at Loch Vale. This was Jennifer's first trip to the Park after arriving from Rome.



Lisa at the base of  an ice climb called Jaws. The ice was not formed well that day so we climbed an easy but scary rock pitch to the right of the ice.


This is me leading the rock to the right of Jaws. It was loose and wet in spots.


Lisa rappelling from the rock pitch with Jaws (unformed) in the background.