Photo by Courtney Ley
I start out by going through the motions: packing my gear, walking up the trail, and racking up - anything to procrastinate a little longer. Maybe, I think, if I drag my feet enough the weather will get worse and I'll be able to save face and weasel out of this without having to admit to being such a pussy. This is where a good partner comes in - some reinforce this fear and make it easier to find an excuse - others have no mercy. Given my natural level of caution, the latter is usually just what I need. When the moment of truth comes I say, "yep, looks good to me - let's do it."
It takes a few feet of climbing before the elvis-leg starts to go away. A bit higher, I've placed a few screws and the urge to down climb with my tail between my legs is steadily fading. Each swing feels solid, I look at things more rationally, and realize how much damn fun this is. By the top I'm building an anchor and fighting through the painful rush of blood back into my cold hands. Circulation isn't the only thing coming back, and I'm now looking forward to my best season of ice climbing yet.