An Imaginary First Ascent of a Real Route

Posted on: June 26, 2008

Timothy Elson

“In climbing style is everything…”

In the fridged van they apply their make-up, mainly winter stuff; the ‘Electro-Goths’ head into the tempest, tempted by unclimbed ice.

Apprehension in the air as all imagined forms of unclimbed ice come to mind; W6 pillars and mushrooms, long sustained pitches of perfection…Only for the future route to be altered as a consequence of these thoughts; because no expectations are ever met. Once conjured in the mind, anticipated in consciousness, the illusory world interacts and refashions the real forms of unclimbed ice.

“It is a pencil; now it’s a waterfall; It is an ice climb; now it’s a drip; It is a thought; now never exists”

Listening to electric beats, the drum machine their feet, Vega’s hitting hard scree because converse don’t fit crampons; to the Goth’s style is everything. Being the noughties not the eighties they wore lids, mullets no longer offer protection from falling ice. Three hours of uphill dance and the songs were wearing thin; strong winds had spoilt their hair from tangled mess to frozen distress.

Then a view of the route, initially it looked steep, they exclaimed ‘Sweet’. A harder stare and the ice, altered by expectations and imagination, is easy. Front Range wind drives fresh snow into their eyes grating like sandpaper, while soloing rambling straightforward frozen water.

The thought that the climb and them (the Goths) were stupid passed before their minds, as the anticipated was an anticlimax…At least in their minds eye they looked good; a hollow shell much like the ice they has just climbed.

Their expectations had ruined the real perceptions of now climbed ice. The imagined climb was better in every way, and never existed. *

* ‘Good Training for Nothing’ a WI3 in the David Thompson Corridor of the Canadian Rockies " this account bares almost no resemblance to the story of the first ascent.