I was inspired by many people this past winter: Erik Schnack, Wade Suvan, Kristoffer Szilas, Rob Gibson and Ramon Marin, to name a few. Every day I got out to climb made me mentally and physically stronger. It takes me a long time to feel like I’m getting in shape for difficult mixed climbing and this year was no exception. Last Saturday I had the right partner at the right time and took advantage of the mild weather.

Cryophobia is a 225 meter route that looked menacing and foreboding the first time I saw it from Hydrophobia some years ago. “If people can find a way up that wall, what isn’t possible?” I thought to myself. Now I understand it better. It is about stepping out, beyond oneself, and seeing what one can achieve. The horror stories this season didn’t help matters much. A detached pillar of ice, separated from the ice pillar above by a horizontal crack about 2o feet up is balanced precariously on the wall. It is a slender pencil that seems impossible to remain balanced in its present condition.  The shaft of ice is only supported at the bottom, on a tiny base of ice mushrooms.  Otherwise, it is completely unattached from the wall or the ice around it.  This freak of nature, visible in the first photo below, is dwarfed by the walls of rock. Yet it makes for a skin crawling nightmare when one imagines its inevitable collapse.

But, hey, I’m getting distracted from the story. That dagger is just one of many amazing formations of ice on the cliff to the right of Hydrophobia. To be sure, our ascent of the route (by Tato Esquirol de Arteaga and myself) was the highlight of my climbing season. It was a fulfilling climb. It left me thankful to be a climber.  During a winter of super human Olympic records and achievements in Vancouver, I am thankful that I have climbing as an outlet and expression of my passion for living.  Mountains give me the path for meeting the challenges that make my life meaningful. I post some photos here to give a sense of the climb.  As my first entry, I hope this will offer a meaningful beginning.


Hydrophobia on the left and the thin, mixed line of Cryophobia V M8 WI5+ on the right.



Tato leads the first moderate pitch with Hydrophobia visible off to the left and thin pillar of Cryophobia ice high on the right.

Tato leads the first moderate pitch with Hydrophobia visible off to the left and the slender pillar of Cryophobia ice high on the right.



Pitch 2 follows a crack through a roof and past some ice mushrooms frozen to the wall.



The overhangs on the third pitch are intimidating obstacles!



Great blobs of ice are frozen to the wall making pitch four a brilliant lead.



We avoided the detached and cracked off pillar by climbing the mixed line through the overhangs



The last pitch involves a thin, hollow sounding curtain of ice.