East Vail Ice
March 18th, 2011
Elias, Bridgette, & Ben
Rigid Designator WI5, 115ft
Cupcake Corner WI4-5 M5, 75ft
With so much powder piling up above the ice falls in the east Vail chutes it had given me little reason not to keep riding the deep. Yet after work an opportunity to climb with one of the valley’s best, Elias aka the Spaniard, is hard to turn down. My ice climbing experience is rather limited but I am still drawn to the challenge of a different kind of climbing. Putting on crampons and swinging axes feels awkward at first, but soon it becomes an extension of your body. It opens up the world of rock allowing for different moves up things that might be unclimbable without tools. Setting the pick of the ice axe into vertical slots only wide enough to slip a quarter into or placing a point of your crampon on a sliver of a seam. It also takes some mental adjustments climbing with tools. It is now possible to reach higher while torquing on smaller seams. Then once you are hanging by a seam it takes your confidence a little while to gain the trust of your tools holding you to a pillar of ice.
Here are some photos from Cupcake Corner…
The only way to describe Elias climbing is; a powerful yet delicate elegant dance on ice. He makes quick work, never second guessing a move, swinging the axe hard but never to hard, and always moving upwards on the 115′ pillar of ice. In about 10 minutes he was making his final moves, pulling himself over the top of the vertical section of ice falls. Standing atop this giant icicle looking down, yelling for a lower, he passed the mere 3 ice screws placed on the way up. For those of you who get a chance to climb with Elias it is a great pleasure, even just a chance to watch will probably get you excited enough to want to try it for yourself.
Photos from the Rigid Designator…