Jonathon and I arrived in North Conway, NH during a raging blizzard. It was a classic nor-easter. Cold air from Canada had collided with a warm air mass from the south to create high winds and plenty of snow. Prior to this snowstorm, the ice climbing conditions were looking to be good. I felt antsy to leave the warmth and comfort of Marc’s cozy home and swing my tools for the first time since last spring. I was really looking forward to putting this time in to improve my ice climbing techniques, or lack thereof.
We left the house around 1 pm. Marc volunteered to show us the local crags at Frankeinstein just off of HW 16. Marc laughed at us when we stepped out of the car with heavy clothes and sunglasses on, as he is a seasoned New Englander. The winds were howling, it was snowing lightly and temperatures were around 10 degrees F. The winds had picked up and visibility had dropped by time we got to the base of the crag. Marc graciously volunteered to lead us up a couple pitches, since Jonathon and I were still a little disoriented to the area and slightly out of comfort zone with the intense cold. We flaked out our ropes, and Marc cruised up the first 70 meters. Ice climbing is notoriously hard on ropes and I was super psyched to have a brand new Petzl Nomad, a 9.8mm, 70m rope that is perfect for ice climbing. Jonathon and I followed as fast as we could since conditions were deteriorating the higher off the ground we got. My Petzl ice screws were super easy to get out, even when my hands went numb. We finished up the final pitch and started to make out way down through the trees.
The trail was covered with about a foot of fluffy new snow, obscuring the uneven terrain below. I scrambled down some boulders and suddenly felt my ankle give way when I stepped on an uneven surface. Pain immediately engulfed every nerve cell in my body. I took a couple deep breaths and assumed I had just rolled my ankle, which I have a tendency to do since breaking my leg three years ago. I have a “special” relationship with my left leg. We have been through a lot together including several surgeries and many, many months of physical therapy. She has been really good to me recently but I guess she wanted to send me the message that I still need to take care of her. I have a tendency to push her and, like a nagging mother, she will continue to remind me to diligently care for her.
I only ended up mildly spraining my ankle, but still had to hobble around for a couple days. I had to accept that there would be no more ice climbing occurring during this trip. With all my injuries, one would think that I could readily accept disappointment related to injuries occurring during climbing trips. The experience does make it easier to accept the change of plans, but does not ease the disappointment associated with the change. There is something about setting aside time, buying gear and training that fosters a sense of investment in a trip. When those plans change, it is hard to adjust.
Jonathon and I wondered around North Conway and I belayed him on a couple roadside climbs. A couple days later we decided to call it and head back to base camp at my parent’s house in Portland, ME. There were still family and close friends to see. That is one thing that being injured has taught me: Don’t rely on only one part of life exclusively; try to maintain a sense of balance throughout the journey.
Sorry no pics….too cold.