Ice Climbing Adventure: Cody Ice Festival

*Guest post courtesy of Kristie Salzmann from An Appetite for Adventure*

At the start of this new year I decided not to make resolutions but instead make plans.  I sat down and wrote a list of 13 items I will do this year, most of which are outdoor related trips or adventures.  This past Saturday I was able to check the first thing off that list; last Saturday I went ice climbing for the first time in my life!

A few years ago I became reacquainted with a love I had let slide by the side of the road, rock climbing (if you really want to know more about that, check this out: A monkey in love).  As I began learning more about climbing and meeting amazing new friends, I started to learn about ice climbing.  At first, I thought I would NEVER try it, but when my life moved me to my new wonderful home state of Wyoming, all of that began to shift.

In its 15th year, the Cody Ice Festival would literally be in my backyard (if you consider the wide expanse of the Shoshone National Forest my backyard), so how could I pass up the opportunity to try something new?!  So, as I almost often do, I jumped in head first.

After reassuring my parents that I would take every precaution I could, I signed up for the festival and a beginner's clinic.  I was very lucky to have one of my favorite people, Haley Dahle, come up from Utah to be a part of the weekend fun with me.

Upon grabbing some Quark ice axes and crampons from Petzl, a great puffy and gloves from Rab, and Mont Blanc GTX boots from Scarpa, it started to sink in that the next day I was going to climb ice!

 Ice Climb Gear

A restless night of sleep (because of building excitement) gave way to an early morning.  After meeting up with all of the other newbies, we headed out to Aldrich Creek to get on some ice.  A beautiful 1.7 mile approach led us to ice coming straight out of the rocks; now this ice was not a typical waterfall style because it didn't come over the rocks but rather straight out of them.

Don and crew got everything set up for four top-roped routes.  He asked who wanted to get on the first one, and I jumped at it!

Cody Ice Climb

That first climb was a tough one because I had no clue that ice climbing was methodical and technically very different from my beloved sport climbing.  After a great deal of work, I made it to the top only to realize I couldn't feel my hands.

Once everyone had gotten a climb under their belt, one of the guides, Chad, took the time to take us all through some basics.  It was then that I realized my errors of the first climb; I had failed to ever leave my ice tools hang in the ice and shake my hands out to get the blood pumping again.  I also learned the methodical technique of sticking your butt out, putting your helmet between you and the ice, and walking your feet up.  This is then followed by lifting your head, bringing your hips into the ice, and reaching each tool further up the ice.

Helmet to ice

I went up two more routes and felt much more at ease after being taught the proper techniques.  I'm not going to lie; I did have a few times on my final climb when I had to tell myself to go up and not quit because of exhaustion or fear of the pure vertical ice.  The rush of getting to the top of an ice climb was different for me than on rock.  I was worn out in an entirely new way, and I loved every minute of it!

I got this now!

 Stay tuned to An Appetite for Adventure to see what the rest of my 2013 list has me doing!

*Thank again to Kristie for sharing this adventure with us on the Hub.*
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Kristie Salzmann
Kristie Salzmann grew up on a farm in Wisconsin. After a successful military career, she switched paths to live her dream in Cody, Wyo., where she works for the Shoshone National Forest. She's a runner, hiker, biker, camper, backpacker and climber who blogs about her experiences at An Appetite for Adventure. Kristie is passionate about trying new things and loves to be in nature, especially the lands surrounding Yellowstone National Park! Follow her on Twitter.
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