Temperatures that morning weren’t awful, but it wasn’t going to be a warm day by any stretch of the word. The Dark Side is also dark, so we wouldn’t be getting any sunlight to warm us. Luckily it wasn’t windy and I brought along extra layers and gloves for her. She was an absolute trooper. I know she was cold, but she didn’t complain.
We started with a short, but steep warm-up route (The Escalator, WI2+/3) and it seemed like she was going to do ok. However when we got on an easier, low angle route, (Frozen Apples, WI2/3), she seemed to struggle. I was worried she would become frustrated with the climbing but it turns out that she actually climbs better on steeper and more difficult terrain. We switched over to Gold Leader, WI3+/4, and it seemed like the challenging ice actually forces her to climb better.
|Wifey, starting up The Escalator.|
|Me, on The Escalator|
|Wifey, with Alpine Endeavors Guide Alan Kline.|
|Stylin' on Gold Leader!|
|Me, attempting a varation of Gold Leader that I was considering leading but felt the ice conditions weren't optimal. I'm cool with taking a pass.|
We decided to finish up the day by climbing out via Platekill Falls, WI3+. The waterfall is minutes from where we parked and it would be a great way to end the day. The waterfall was big and loud, but there was a wide groove variation that looked well within her abilities (WI3). I took a lap up the waterfall (carrying up her pack for her) and then lowered off to pick up my backpack and climb up a steep section at the fall’s left margin which was a challenging WI4.
|Happy Couple at the base of Platekill Falls.|
|Finishing up a WI4 variation of Platekill Falls.|
At the end of the day, my wife was exhausted and marveled at how I can do this sort of thing on a regular basis. I tell her that it’s not for everyone. She herself says she’s a “once a year ice climber” and I’m ok with that. The fact that she supports me, and occasional joins me, is good enough for me. But tying everything we did together, I think this was one of the best winter trips we’ve ever had. And I know next year, I have her as a partner at least one day again!