Monday, April 14, 2014

Time to learn the balancing act

Base camp is such an interesting place at this point in the season because everyone's thinking about the icefall. We all realize that our chance at this hurdle is rapidly approaching. Some of the season's first climbers go tomorrow.
As you see in this picture, we have a couple of ladders set up here in BC where we can practice. Some like to set their heal first, some balance on their toes first, maybe step one rung at a time, or maybe two feels more natural. What I find interesting is that so much time is spent on learning the ladders when it's such a small piece of the puzzle. Not many of us come right out and say it but I suspect this is most everyone's biggest concern while on this mountain. So many conversations over the last few days have drifted until someone mentions the ladders and then everyone listens up.
Looking at this setup where we're two feet off the ground doesn't look too bad but what we're seeing in our minds is a 300 foot drop into blackness beneath the rungs. Even the most experienced guys up here will offer advice like "just try to focus on your boot placement and don't look down too far." It's an exciting time! I'm scared a bit and at the same time I can't wait to get back up there.
There's some great ladder crossing pix on the IMG website if you want to get a feel for the fun :-)
The background in this picture is the actual icefall itself, or at least the bottom part of it. I'm sure most of you realize that these pieces of ice that look like popcorn are the size of buses or even as big as houses.
I was having lunch today with an experienced climber from Mexico who's going to try to climb this hill for the third time. When the icefall topic eventually came up he said "the trick is to keep your head down and not think about those blocks of ice hanging over you...but for God's sake keep an eye on them just in case they decide to fall on you" :-) I guess it's like everything else in life, it's just a balancing act..


  1. Go Jon! You're a badass! Just posted your info to my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feeds! My collective heart and strength and that of my friends, family and followers is with your my brother! Your fitness, your heart and your positive energy will prevail!

  2. The ladder stuff is fascinating. Are those home depot ladders? I'm thinking that OSHA would not approve. The IMG site shows 4 ladders strung across a big crevasse -- pretty intimidating. And I imagine you are wearing crampons while doing this, too.
    How cold is it up there?
    Good luck!

  3. We are thinking about. Take care

  4. John,
    Thanks to my daughter Katie I am to respond in a somewhat albeit form. You sound great, think this will be a piece of cake for you. Can't wait for you to buy me a steak at Starks when you get back, so hurry up!

  5. Your past experience must be comforting on the aluminum. What a stud!

  6. Great job Jon!
    Keep up the good work, I feel like I am living living the dream with you! Keep having a blast and come home safe.

  7. Just walked the kids through the journey thus far too. They love it!!!