Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ice Climbers

This one falls into the category of Things I Would Never Think To Do.

Last weekend, I was driving north along the river into Thomaston, when I suddenly spotted three or four dozen people swarming all over the side of an icy cliff wall. My jaw dropped, I slowed down to look closer, wishing I had my camera, then kept going. Today I went back, with my camera, but not until the end of the day, when the sun was getting low in the sky and there were only six climbers doing their thing.

To get there, you take Thomaston Avenue north. It turns into Waterbury Road, and eventually you reach Jackson Street, which is where the climbing happens (at a small and fairly old former quarry). There's a little bit of off-street parking, then you follow a short and very lovely path through the snowy woods.

If you look closely (click on the image to enlarge), you'll see one of the climbers up high to the right:

Here's a closer view of the climber:

And another view. Here you can see that he's using a safety line, so if he falls, he won't fall far (assuming the two guys standing on the ground holding the other end of the rope do their job!).

Here are the guys holding the safety line. Ice climbing looks like a fairly slow process. The guy on the wall (see him way up there?) didn't get very far while I was there. At one point, he stopped to rest on a ledge and chatted with his friends about how there were a couple times he thought the ice was going to break off.

There were three other climbers present, but they weren't actually climbing. Two of them were being taught how to climb ice by the third one. Given how low the sun was, it seemed a little late in the day for a lesson, but I suppose they might have had another hour before dark.

When I look at the cascading wall of ice, it really just doesn't occur to me that I should climb it. It's beautiful and impressive, but climbing it is just not an instinct I have.

I've been rock climbing a few times, at least twice at this quarry. It was an interesting challenge and an interesting experience, but I still can't imagine why anyone would look at a wall of ice and feel inspired to climb up it.

If you want to see more ice climbing in Thomaston, here's a link to a video on YouTube:

1 comment:

Dan said...

I've climbed there a few times. It's some good ice climbing, but after going numerous times, I decided ice climbing wasn't for me. It's wet, cold, and dangerous...but certainly a lot of fun.

Anyway, the ice in Thomaston is pretty fun. If you're looking for more ice in the area, a good guy to contact is Matt Shove at the EMS climbing school. Call the EMS store near the West Farms Mall if you want to take lessons. Matt knows his way around ice.