The Ice Season Cometh

While the rest of Consumer America is gearing up for the holiday mall siege, a bunch of us crazies are getting ready for Ice Season.

Slides and falls and flows are coming in from the San Juans to the Whites, and it won’t be long (we Tri-staters  hope) ’till the Catskills are in shape, too. This year, I’m going to be ready.

First time out, Johnston Canyon, Alberta. The awkward figure on the upper right is me.

It will be my third “real” ice season–I’m not counting the winters from 2005-2008 when I got out once or twice at best–and this one is going to be different. Since I’ve shelved triathlon as my main pursuit, I can now focus on climbing. It’s probably time to set some goals and actually (gasp!) do some training.

All those years I spent worshiping at the multisport altar (and memorizing the sacred tracts from The Triathlete’s Bible, by Joe Friel) taught me that goals need to be specific, concrete, and articulable. Not “Be a better climber,” but “Cleanly follow the Black Dike.”  Not “Learn to lead,” but “Lead Pegasus.” Instead of “Gain strength and aerobic endurance,” it’s “Send all seven pitches of Buttermilk Falls (and complete the heinous approach and walk-out) before noon.”

Not that those are necessarily MY goals. But you get the idea.

Those are what I would call “macro” goals–bigger objectives to be trained for and accomplished, eventually, over time. But it helps to have “micro” goals, too. Alpine sage/Chick Almighty/sponsored athlete Kitty Calhoun taught me this at a Chicks Rock clinic this fall:  Before you start a line, pick one thing you need to work on, and focus on that.  On ice, that might mean the swing, the kick,  breathing, balance, fluid movement, looking at your feet, using your core, maintaining the triangle, or resting. Or a dozen other things that I don’t know about yet. Every time you hear “you’re on belay” but before you say “climbing,” set an intention for that climb: What are you going to work on?

A Chicks crew from 2007, New Hampshire

A Chicks crew from 2007, New Hampshire--Jo, Dale, Inga, Caroline & Dara

Setting goals, big or  little, doesn’t occur in a vacuum. You have to identify your limitations in order to target areas that need to be improved. I’m going to spend some time over the next few days thinking about the things that gave me trouble last year so I can work on changing them this year. Like sketching out when I get more than 30′ up a vertical piece. Or flailing about when I’m sketched, instead of moving calmly, with purpose. Or letting negative thoughts intrude when I’m tired or sore. Or just getting tired or sore–training will surely help fix that, right?

It’s going to be a great season. Bring on the ice!

About Dara Miles

Journalist, mom, runner, cyclist, climber and recovering lawyer.
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