Sunday, December 14, 2008

Minus 35 (Edit: -42 last night!)

Cold weather always makes me feel excited in a, "I sure am glad I'm not on a climb!" sort of way. The squeaking crunch of the snow underfoot, the sudden numbness in an earlobe, the hyper-real sound transmission in the air and of course the, "Just how cold is this going to go?" feeling all combine to make cold weather something I really look forward to. I know there's no way in hell I'm going to do anything except hike in this weather, which is sort of liberating.

Fortunately I climbed the last two days in a row before this "cold snap" blew in. I say fortunately because I give up on ice climbing below about -20, I just don't enjoy it. I've done some days at -30, it's just too damn nasty. I also feel like the line between survival and total chaos is much closer when the temperature is so low; break a leg at -5 and you'll have a shot at living until help shows up, but at -30, well, good luck. But I still feel invigorated by extreme cold, it's just such a clean, sharp feeling every time I step out the door to get more wood for the stove. Overall I'm pleased with the wood stove addition to the house, and we haven't had to turn the heat on yet. All the wood cutting in the fall (standing dead trees only, they have very low moisture content and so are OK to burn now) is paying off! 

Minus 35 isn't that bad compared to the cold I've felt in the far north, but just a week ago it was warm enough to climb rock outside in the sun! Amazing transition.


Mostly outdoors on one long route and a few drytooling days, although I did get sucked into a wicked session at the Vsion two days ago. I went in for a quick evening slam after a short day out in the morning; I had clear-cut goals (front levers, power pulls) but the Junior team had a new toy: A speed system... Stand on the little pedal, punch it to the top, hit a buzzer. The Juniors were going fast and it looked like fun, so I had to play. Before I knew it 45 minutes of desperate yanking laps had gone by. I lowered my initial time of seven seconds (short wall) down to just under 2.5 seconds but couldn't get it any lower despite trying as hard as I could. The record is 1.91 seconds (nice work Eric!) to go from standing at the bottom to the buzzer on the top of the roughly 20 foot wall. Basically three power moves in a row to the top, so maybe it was a good power workout after all! 

One thing I know now is that when you get a groove on in a training session it's way better to go with that than to try and force the original plan. Staying fresh mentally is as or more important than anything else. If you're not motivated by your workouts then you ultimately won't go. So next time I hit the front levers and power pulls I'll be feeling extra aggro and psyched, and the speed didn't hurt my forward progress. If anything the psyche pushed me to try harder and go deeper, which is what good training is often all about.

Stay warm!

PS--the temp is now -36, could we hit -40 tonight? I haven't seen -40 in many years in the Rockies (apparently neither have the pine beetles, one reason they are expanding their range so dramatically to the north). Cold, cold, let's go -40! The sun doesn't come up until 8:38 tomorrow, so lots of time left tonight...

11:20 PPS--Now we're down to -37! Time for bed, but I'll check the stats from last night in the morning, this is getting really, really cold!

The temp dropped to -42 last night. I can't remember the last time it was -40 something around here, nice to see.