A First Time For Everything

Rock Climbing / Winter Sports
A First Time For Everything

Every body is a newbie at some point. It may seem like certain people were born running, or that their fingers were made for crags. But they all started out wondering if those new shoes were going to give them blisters.

In March I’m going to take on a first: ice climbing.

It’s not that I am filled with glee, really more like low level terror, at the thought of looking up at a steep slope of ice knowing that soon I will have to swing an ice axe at it with my weak little Tyrannosaurus Rex arms in order to get a hold. But I love trying things that I might not normally do. Then I can at least say that I’ve tried it. And maybe have a story or two to tell.

But one of the other great things about trying something new, I won’t lie to you, is buying new gear for the adventure. Hopefully it is a piece of gear that I can use for something else. (It’s not like I’m going to go out and purchase a brand new sea kayak just so I can take it on the ocean once; or maybe twice.)

Enter another first. My first EVER down jacket.

I know, I know. Shilling the product. But it’s a delicious color that makes me think of black raspberry soft serve ice cream! How can you go wrong with that?

The last down jacket anyone in my family owned was my mother, and I was still in elementary school. It was a full length parka; goldish on the outside with burgundy accents at the collar. The material felt about as thick as old school tent fabric, and the parka felt so heavy you would swear it was 1,000 down fill with the actual goose stuffed inside for good measure. True, it was as much for fashion as anything. She played violin in the NH Philharmonic and that coat kept her looking good and feeling toasty when she would have to dress in her “concert blacks” and head out into the winter air to get to a performance.

This Glacier, at only a 650 fill, feels like a helium balloon compared to that parka.

How on earth is it going to keep me warm at the top of an ice wall in North Conway in March? Hopefully there will be some cold days between now and then so I can put this jacket to the test.

My main concern with buying the parka, other than warmth, is that I can shove it into whatever pack I’ll haul up the slope with me. We’ll see how well it lives up to the little nylon stuff sack that comes with it.

But I can see the jacket in my mind. Years down the road, covered with stains and probably a few patches. And the first story it has to tell is that March when I woke up well before dawn so I could drive three plus hours to put on some crampons and get to know ice in a way I never thought I would.



Lara works as a live chat agent in customer service at EMS Base Camp. When she’s not glued to the keyboard she likes to hike, run, snowshoe (in the appropriate weather, of course), and pretend she’s a photographer.While running support for a friend in a 5k she saw a team of runners wearing shirts that proudly advertised “In it to finish”. It’s an attitude that reflects her own; be out there and don’t worry about being first or fastest. Just do what you do the best that you can.Beyond that is life; which is filled with family, friends, kittens, and the occasional crochet project. Because your axe needs a cozy.


  1. lskinner
    March 21, 2011, 7:08 am

    Hey Tracey! Ends up I didn’t even use the down jacket. It was so warm, though windy, on Willy’s Slide up in the Whites that the shell jacket I also picked up did me as much good as anything. Though I wind resistant soft shell would have been a nice addition as well.
    There may be some video coming up of my adventure and the four great people I met that day. :)

  2. March 10, 2011, 10:25 am

    Oh ya, your down jacket should do just fine! I have so much gear and it’s lived up to every second of its use every where. The Wind parka with pants that i have survived Mount Katahdin in Maine with wind gusts of 90 MPH couple years ago. Everything I own is 20 years old and brand new. Very durable and I recommend to every one who needs the right gear for the right adventure!

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