Right when I got back from Hawaii, I slept a while then set out at 3 am, pointing the car towards the Stubai Mountains. I met Cyrille and Christian there. Cyrille had a nasty knee injury, got while skiing into a rock the day before. So Christian and I skied up the popular peak Zischgeles, not far from Lüsens. We were in the fog a lot, but the skin up was good exercise. The last two hundred meters of scrambling to the summit made for interesting climbing in clumsy ski boots. We got some interesting misty views, then started down. My skiing was bad as usual, but we eventually made it.

I was tired so I took a nap. We went for dinner, and the next day Cyrille felt well enough to do some ice climbing. We climbed Gasthausfall on top rope many times. Well, I led half of it, then got scared. Cyrille finished it and then it was a fun afternoon of top roping. Really neat to try out Cyrille’s leashless tools. It seems like a great way to go. My down jacket and MEC thermos full of tea made the cold bearable.

That night we ate at a restaurant, and rather lamely went to bed at a decent hour (uh, it was New Years Eve, or Silvester in the German world). Christian did the right thing and got up at midnight to watch fireworks in the village.

The next day was extremely cold. Just walking in to the ice climbing area was painful. I led a pitch, and foolishly set a belay at an uncomfortable hanging stance. If I had known how uncomfortable Christian and I would be hanging out there while Cyrille continued leading above, I would have done something different! It was a real test of will to survive without crying. Toes, muscles, fingers, everything hurt. My climbing harness hurt. Everything freezing cold too. If I leaned against the ice too long my jacket would freeze to it. Finally Cyrille belayed us each on a line.

We were shivering like crazy! It was good to be moving though. I went to the side of Christian to avoid any chunks of ice. Suddenly Christian fell, and there was enough rope stretch that it was at least 10 feet. He was fine, but it made us a little nervous. He tried once more, but had exhausted himself the first time. So I hurried another 50 meters to Cyrille’s belay while Christian waited.

At the belay Cyrille and I rigged a rappel where we could pass the knot and thus lower Christian 100 meters to the ground. I know he was relieved to be off the troublesome icefall! Other than that complication, it was a fun pitch. Cyrille and I made two double rope rappels to the ground, the second one was freehanging, next to the frozen ice. Very beautiful.

We called it a day and went home after a late lunch. The mountains were beautiful on the drive home.