Standing at the bottom of the steep ice, I went into my usual routine. Focus on my breathing, empty my mind, relax, hear the sounds of the wind and the snow. Try to get into the zone for solo climbing; that state of flow without conscious thought, just natural movement. Get ready to experience the climb as if riding on the shoulder of someone else doing it.
It took a couple of minutes of trying. And then I walked away.
Sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes, you just can’t get into the right state of mind; you can’t reach that state of flow. Sometimes you don’t know why, but this time I did.
Mike is an IFMGA mountain guide, accomplished winter climber and member of the Jöttnar Pro Team.
My route into ice climbing was not one I can recommend to anyone. My first taste was a grade II cascade in the Cairngorms while walking for four days with a friend. Bendy boots, two walking axes and strap-on walking crampons did not stop me having a blast on the ice.
Next, in the Baksan Valley of the Russian Caucasus mountains, I played around on frozen waterfalls, admiring the features of the cascades and climbing small steps of ice. The top one lured me onto it to have a look before I realised that down-climbing ice was really hard. So, I had to climb the 30m cascade of grade IV, solo. Point Five Gully was my third ever ice climb, and I climbed it solo too.
Mike guiding client Abib Bocresion to the top of Mega Route X.