Sunday, 18 January 2009


It's been 3 or maybe 4 years since I last held ice axes and wore technical crampons on B3 boots. When it comes to ice climbing, I would be easy for me to say that I have all the gear but no idea, but that may be a bit harsh. I have dabbled in the past but don't feel like I have really experienced proper ice climbing. The general condition of the cascade water ice down here at the moment is excellent with plenty of big fat ice developing, but I felt I needed a refresher before I could commit to any ice-climbing outings. So today I have been on a beginners ice climbing course run by the Guides d'Ariege which took place up at the Barrage de Soulcem, a breathtakingly beautiful spotThere were 7 of us on the course including my mate and dog-sitter Donna. The cascades were in excellent nick, with some very hard ice in parts which made first time axe placements difficult initially. Our 'guide' Fred, put top ropes on the main 'beginners' cascade. I found my movements on the first couple of routes unnatural and awkward and my forearms were burning - a sure sign of poor technique! But eventually, something clicked and my movements and axe placements became more flowing and natural. Some fantastic routes followed. I was loving it.
Fred also put a top rope on a mixed route which he then proceeded to demonstrate, but unfortunately it was way beyond the capabilities of us mere mortals!
In the course of the afternoon, the 06.00 rise this morning and the physical exertion started to take their toll and tiredness started to hit me. The sun was by now hitting the cascade and the ice was changing in structure. I had had my fill and was pleased with how I had climbed, particularly the last climb which had included a short steep section which I was able to find my way up. It had been a cracking (but long!) day out which has given me the taste and confidence for more.


Les suédois said...

Oh, magnifique! Je ne savais pas que l'on pouvait faire cela dans l'Ariège. Et qu'on pouvait y trouver des guides pour cela...

penny said...

C'est le Bureau des Guides de l'Ariège qui mènent les stages, Anna! On s'est regalé aujourd'hui!