Ten Years of
Ice Climbing


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photo from Terra Galleria © Quang-Tuan Luong
I first climbed waterfall ice during a memorable trip in January 1986. My climbing mentor, Chris Brislawn, literally dragged me up the Rigid Designator near Vail for my first ice climb. Just next door was a hideous free hanging icicle known as the Fang.

Ten years later I am a more experienced ice climber, although it still scares the hell out of me. In January of 1996 Quang-Tuan Luong was visting from Berkeley, and naturally he wanted to climb The Fang. It does not form every year, but in the photo to the left it is in relatively thick condition. What the photo does not show is the warm conditions with a stream of melt water pouring off it. We spent over an hour at the base before Tuan decided to attempt the lead. Our concern was that it was too warm and could possibly collapse.

As a visiting climber Tuan was eager to claim this testpiece, and he donned his gore-tex and entered the spray. It was a very impressive lead, I was duly humbled by the presence of a true ice master. Even after 10 years I still feel like a rank beginner in this sport!

The photo to the left was taken by Tuan, and shows me following the pitch after Tuan lowered off the trees at top. The line of the rope in the sky is obvious in the original slide, but Tuan has excised it electronically here. Don't be fooled - I'm not free soloing!