Newfound Lake Ice Climbing – Type 2 fun when it is -2 degF (-19 degC)

I often feel bad about limiting my partners’ choices of climbs because of my difficulty with long approaches. My partners tell me not to be so silly and that I don’t hold them back at all; but I still have a hard time not feeling bad about it. A lot of it is due to my history of being Sherpa Wendy; being all about dividing the load 50/50 even if my partner was much bigger than me, and usually being front of the pack and moving at a fast clip on approaches. I still have a hard time not feeling crummy asking my partner to carry something for me.

We decided to check out some routes by Newfound Lake, in Bristol, NH because we weren’t sure if some areas in North Conway had filled in yet with much ice. The approach is steep and up a talus field, but short, so I found that I managed all right.


Nice lakeside view. The photo is deceptive though; the sun belies the fact that it is -2 degF and we were in the shade for the entire day.

Because of such cold weather and little moisture/precipitation recently, the ice was extremely brittle and hard. It took a lot of work to whack our tools and crampons in multiple times to get a somewhat secure placement. As a result, I really wasn’t comfortable leading any of the routes. Fortunately, Lian was there to be our rope-gun! In the past, I would have felt like a real pussy not leading and just following. But, I think my attitude about this has changed since my accident. To me, the risk of having a bad fall again is just not worth it.


First climb of the day. As you can tell, this formation is a waterfall in warmer weather.


Here I am being very cold.


I think this picture gives a better sense of the temperature. Can you tell I really don’t like extreme cold??

This has to be the best picture/caption combo ever, courtesy of my good friend Mike. I look so sad and, you guessed it, cold :)


“What do I do with these?”

And here I am looking like the Michelin man. This is what one looks like when they are wearing a tank, baselayer, fleece, down-jacket, hardshell, another huge oversized down jacket over all that and two pairs of big gloves stuffed under their jacket.


I swear there is a figure underneath all these layers….

At the end of the day, as we descended back to the road down the talus, me doing my usual butt out down-climbing, Mike said “Man Wendy, you’ve got balls.” I really appreciated hearing that from Mike and him having a comprehension of how hard some of this stuff is for me. I told him, “Thanks. I’m really trying to resist the constant urge to apologize for slowing you guys down”. Mike replied, “I know. And I know you have to live with this every day, but you really don’t hold people back as much as you think.” Again, self-perception versus objective truth. Sigh.

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