Guest Blog Post: 5 Things we Learned from Last Years Ice Season

Posted: November 16, 2012 in Business, climbing

From our Friends at Looking Glass Outfitters

Lets be honest.  Last years ice season was banner – banner for being a terrible disappointment for us Southern ice weirdos.  Al Gore tried to warn us.  In retrospect we did gain some useful knowledge from last seasons wet fest.  Phil Hoffmann is here to break it down.

1. Temperature Inversions.
These little buggers are not to be trifled with. Here’s an example:  I got up at 4am to have a nice half day at the local 215 road cut with my buddy Thad.  You know, living the life, coupla ice pitches before work with a BIG mountain view, inches from the car approach, bomber TR set ups to maximize time, hot coffee, all the good stuff.  I left the house at 5am it was 17 degrees out.  We rolled into Hwy 215 at 6am at 4500 feet and it was 42 degrees!  There has never been a finer acronym than W.T.F.
These ice ruining weather patterns go like this.

http://www.weatherquestions.com

Basically, warm is trapped up high and cooler air gets trapped down low melting all the precious ice up high.  This can be caused by different things, air pollution being one of them and since the Asheville area has some of the worst air pollution around we get to blame it on them.

2. Be Ready:
So in the summer its not usually a good idea to keep your rock shoes in the car unless you really love your local resoler.  Same is true with ice boots in the winter. If you keep your ice boots in the car, ready to jump in and blast to the ice route as temperatures plunge, then your feet will feel like this when you slip into your boots.

This Yeti will crush your ice proj…if he had not kept his ice boots in his car all night.

In the spirt of the SE Alpine start here are a few pointers.
Pack your bag the night before over a beer or three.  That means, crampons, tools, repair kit, screws, what have you.  Chunk it by the door and have it ready to roll when your damn alarm is screaming at you.  Tell her to go back to sleep and then bounce.
Do like your mamma told ya in grade school and lay your clothing system out the night before.  This way you can jump in your skivvies and one piece, day glo, 1982 Gore-tex suit and then bounce.
Pack your lunch the night before over a beer or three and set the coffee machine to super dark auto brew.  This way you can grab the high octane brew and then bounce.  I feel a theme starting.

3. If you Don’t Go then you Didn’t Try:
It was so freakin’ warm last Winter that these nut jobs were really getting creative.  TYPICALLY we need 3-5 consecutive spans of single digit nights and sub-freezing days for optimum condishies.  Since that never happened the most we could hope for was two consecutive spans.  Even the old stand bys were not coming in  What we learned was that if you…say it with me…don’t go then you didn’t try.  Hang it out there y’all, you might be surprised.  On my epic fail morning last year (see #1 temp. inversions) two dudes rolled past me on the way back from an attempt on Sams Knob.  They were up there at 2am (absurd) trying to find solid ice.  They got skunked like rest of us but damn if they did not get a killer work out, nail a big morning in the mountains and enjoy a beautiful Pisgah sunrise.  Good on ya!

   Try hard but not THAT HARD! Save some of the rest of us!
4.  And that brings us to number four on the list.
IF ITS HOT OUTSIDE DON’T GO ICE CLIMBING!!!!!
Ahhh anecdotes.  A guy I know calls me up last year in the middle of “ice”season.  The converstaion transpired something like this…
RING!
Phil: Looking Glass Outfitters. This is Phil (insert pleasant inflection in voice)
Dude:  Hey man!  Its (identity protected because of dumbassary)
Phil: Hey!  What’s up?
Dude:  Do you think Starshine will be in tomorrow?
Phil: I dont know. No, probably not but I will email you some recent photos.
Dude: SWEET! I just got it.  Damn!  It looks fat!
Phil:  Ahhhhh, not really Dude
Dude: Ya think??
Phil: Yes
Dude: Ok man! (over psyched on this part)  THANKS FOR ALL THE BETA! KILLER SERVICE AS ALLWAYS!  (wink)
Phil: My pleasure, now buy something.
Dude: Later!
So dude goes out and gets on Starshine as his first ever ice lead.  Don’t even get me started on that.
The next day the phone rings.  Conversation abbreviated to avoid anoying the reader even further.
RING!
Phil: So howed it go?
Dude: epic…just as we topped out it fell down.  (Notice complete lack of psych in typing)
Phil: (Expletive) Are you guys OK?
Dude: Yeah, I think so.
Phil: Ok good. Buy something
Same thing happened to a legendary ice and rock climber from ATL but he was not as lucky.  On a different route the whole thing collapsed with him on it.  Complete melt out. Massive fall and a chopper ride to Mission Hospital in Ashevegas.  He lived.  Ask around.
The iconic Star Shine on the right with Mother Russia on the left. Despite popular belief these only freeze in winter.
5. The very last thing we learned from last season is that…THERE IS ALWAYS NEW HAMPSHIRE!
     If it ain’t in here its in somewhere!
Thanks for reading and here’s to solid ice.
Love,
Looking Glass Outfitters

 

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