|Peter about to go hog wild: Wilford Finish to Super Goofer's.|
The alarm went off at 5:30 a.m.
Staggering downstairs, I pushed aside empty PBR cans and groped for the french press. The high school themed party (I never thought I'd dress like a guidance counselor before) was a rollicking success. While I wisely stayed away from whiskey and other such temptations, my room, located 15 feet away from the epicenter of revelries, afforded little chance of rest.
Let's just say the optimism and excitement that usually welcomes in the ice season is gone by March. But with Alaska trips coming up, Peter Doucette and I thought it'd be good to stay sharp. While most friends are clipping bolts in the Red River Gorge and planning for the spring's rock objectives, I've been trying to maintain winter climbing ability. Note: "trying."
Peter doesn't try though: he just does it. Seeing the guy bail is like seeing a bald eagle in the wild. It doesn't happen often, and it's so rare sometimes you forget to savor the moment. So after I forgot the ice screws in the car, we decided on the Wilford finish to Super Goofers, which has only been done, well, once. [note: Kevin Mahoney and Ben Gilmore have corrected us. Kevin has guided the thing-more than once, of course. Don't know why I let this one slip! Sorry, everybody.]
Obviously, there was no need to figure out who was leading the crux pitch. Dreaming of the food and infinite Netflix possibilites I would encounter at my parents' house later on that day, I belayed the guy as he started up.
Peter takes his time climbing. Where most of us would see a blank wall, an iced up crack, impossibility, he waits until he's figured out every possible angle, patiently trying them all to see which ones work. After placing six pieces below the crux, Peter tapped his way out onto the ice, carefully moving alongside the serpentine crack. Without a chance of getting gear, he focused on the delicate climbing. The ice up top started to fracture away and there was a touch-and-go moment, but after a time I heard a whoop of exhaltation.
"That got...PRETTY REAL." Peter shouted from his belay. No argument here.
I took it to the trees, and we rappelled down to try another thin variation near the big flush. This I thrutched up, and we climbed yet another turf pitch (the best one in New Hampshire), laughing at how filthy we were and how ridiculous it was to be having fun on a climb covered with frozen beer cans and other such vice-ridden detritus.
|Starting up into the thin ice.|