The head has been very awake this last 4 months. The body, not so much. I have been in a state of hyperarousal, always one more thing to do for grad school or some activity of daily life like the groceries, the dogs, dishes, cleaning up dustbunnies in our little cabin. Whatever. Having the powerlifting set-up and hangboard has helped, but it is a far cry from daily cardio and climbing such as was my life for about 5 years. Another thing I notice is that exposure seems slightly novel again, which is a welcome perception but can cause one to secondguess solid ice placements.
Usually the way I start out my ice and mixed season is I go around soloing everything I can get my picks into that is easier than WI4+, saving the steeper ice and mixed climbing for later, and generally starting with the easiest climbs and working my way into steeper terrain. I am going about things the same way this year, but the ice around Anchorage, Portage, and Eklutna is pretty anemic, so less options. I went soloing out on the arm (hardly ANY ice) and in Eklutna the last couple days. What I am noticing, this year, is this odd feeling that I will likely be more comfortable on mixed terrain than steep ice. Generally, this has always been the opposite for me. In the past, on trips to the Canadian Rockies or trips to Italy/France, I would spend day after day climbing demanding pure ice testpieces with extremely poor protection...and that was my 'fun.'
For some reason, this year, I feel more motivated to explore some of the mixed climbs that I have been passing off as 'not in' enough, or dismissing due to the fact that they might need bolts. I am hoping that my arms will be up to the task, as these climbs might prove to be demanding in a different way that pure ice. I guess we'll just have to see how it goes! The brain training of grad school may help...or hinder. I have avoided placing bolts for 13 years...perhaps December or January will see the first ones. Todd Helgeson has generously offered up his drill for the cause of establishing new mixed routes. I hope we get the weather and ice conditions to make it happen.