If you have never been ice climbing, I would really recommend it. This was our 3rd year of attending the Ouray Ice Climbing Festival (well, Brandon has been to 5 or 6 of them, actually), and every year it gets better! Last year I was barely able to climb at all because I was busy covering the Mixed Climbing Competition for an alpine climbing magazine, so this year I wised up, only watched the first half of the competition (you can check out my very official write-up here!) and signed up for a few clinics.
We also took two friends with us who had never been climbing before, got them set up with all the free demo gear they could ever need, and sort-of-snuck them into a beginner’s ice climbing clinic. The Ice Fest is a great place to learn to climb because it is a natural canyon full of man-made ice, meaning that all of the ice is thick and consistent with top ropes available for every route.
The BF took a mixed climbing clinic (using ice tools to climb both rock and ice) with Ines Papert, a German climber who is arguably the most accomplished female ice climber in the world, and one of the pioneers of ice climbing across the board. Oh, and he has a HUGE crush on her. After he took his clinic he couldn’t stop talking about all the things she had said to him and how he had impressed her by being the only member of the clinic to complete the full route they were working on. I was getting a little jealous until we took another clinic with Cory Richards, and I developed my own big professional-ice-climber crush. So now we’re even.
Apart from learning how to place ice screws and feeling like kind of a badass, the best part about the weekend was being reunited with that feeling of exhaustion and contentment that can only come from a full day spent outside in the freezing cold. There is no better feeling than peeling off your boots with a windburned face and crazy helmet hair. Even though I definitely feel exhausted from CrossFit, I don’t get that same feeling of contentment–and I didn’t realize how much I was missing it until I got it again this weekend. It was a bit of a wake up call about how much we have been making excuses to not get up into the mountains because we’re tired and/or the house is dirty and/or the dog needs to be walked… But man I need to get outside more.
I do have to say, though, that compared to last year I felt super strong. At one point I slipped on a climb and was left dangling from my ice tools with little hope for meaningful foot placement… so I did a bit of a kip and pulled myself up! From below it looked more like I was trying to straddle the ice, but hey, functional fitness, right?
I am also not ashamed to admit that all of that ice climbing called for kind of a lot of nachos. And a burger. And a big cookie. And I don’t even feel a little bit bad not knowing how many blocks is in a big mug of hot chocolate.