How to describe this ice season with one word- Hurry

I had two first ascents in mind for this year’s ice climbing season. To plan a new climb on ice means to have a good strategy, and then it’s all about the timing, to be at the right time on the right spot. You have to keep the objective dangers and the conditions of the climb in mind. Then, when everything comes together, it feels like starting into a great adventure with a good feeling of trust. Trust in the own judgment of conditions and personal shape, and trust within each other as a team.

Drytooling section is difficult to protect. Pic Schluge

Now what I am missing since a few winter seasons are the constant deep temperatures, the ice climbers struggle with big ranges in temperatures even on a higher (2500 m) elevations. 15 years ago I experienced the winters much more stable in terms of temperatures and when I think back to these winters I was ice climbing for two months without being worried about the conditions.

Too high temperatures for ice climbing. Pic: Luger

Now it’s different. Seasons are unstable, and I go out ice climbing with the attitude of: “Conditions are far from ideal, but it could work out”. Climbing in these conditions is not nice and satisfying. Deep inside you, you know how the climb would be in ”normal” conditions, and now you have to give it all and the feeling in your guts is not great. You are relieved to top out the climb, but more in a sense to be out of the situation instead of finishing a great and memorable ascent.

This steep roof is the crux of the second pitch, with challenging protection, still unfinished, but we will be back. Pic Luger

The fact is the climate is in change, and it is much harder to get the ice climbs in conditions. I started two new projects in my home mountains. I got stopped by both due to warm temperatures and unconsolidated ice formations. The whole season I felt to be in a hurry. To seize every day possible, where conditions allowed me to get back on the project. With this HURRY feeling, my risk management shifted to more risk-taking behavior. The result of this drive was that I have been in places I normally would not have been, as objective dangers were too high for my understanding of risk exposure. Reflecting on this season, I am still motivated to get back on the projects as I think they are superb and crazy climbs, but I have to get rid of this hurrying feeling and pick the cherry at the right moment.

Soft early season ice, easy to climb not so nice to protect. Pic Luger