Ice Climbing Tomorrow With 17

Taking 17 (!) people ice climbing tomorrow!  Yikes!  Should be a great trip, have three excellent leaders heading out of the city around 5:30am to get to the icefalls and set the ropes for us.  The rest of us are leaving around 7:15am.   Below are a couple of the emails we sent out before the trip to give you a taste of it.


Ice Climbers – 

We had a spectacular response, the trip closed two hours after the signup became available.  We have a bunch going and are going to do our best to get everyone on the ice at least once, we think it will certainly be possible but we’ll need to be efficient in getting people geared up before climbing and “un-geared” after climbing.  Fun and positive attitudes will help it be a great day for all of us.
Seems we’ve been lucky and gotten lots of cold weather 😉
Please email me your shoe size.  We have adjustable crampons and would like to batch people with similar shoe sizes.  We have a couple sets of boots with crampons that snap on to them that we can share if they fit.
Know that this is an inherently dangerous activity and you could certainly get hurt in any number of ways.  We’re going to do our best to be as safe as possible, but it is ice climbing, and ice climbing is quite dangerous.  On that note please sign and return the attached waivers to me via email or fax at 312 794 7094.  Make sure you do that before Friday or you cannot come.  If you’d like to back out no worries, just let me know and we can refund your money.
I’ve attached a map of Starved Rock State Park – when you enter the park,  you’ll need to sign in at a small blue cabin – it’s on the right just after the parking lot to the visitor center before you go up the hill – it’s a bit abandoned looking, there is a piece of paper on the porch where you need to sign in.  After doing that, continue up the road – go up a fairly steep hill, then take a left into a parking lot, park near the trolleys.  Ideally we will all arrive fairly close together and can hike down to French Canyon as a group.  If you’re late, the trail begins to the right of the cabins, by some totem poles.  Head down and go left when you see the french canyon, and go down some stairs.  It may involve some wandering to find it, I haven’t actually been there, only to Wildcat Canyon.  Map is attached.  Plan is to climb the easier French Canyon icefall and then maybe do the larger and steeper Wildcat icefall, we’ll see how the weather is, if the climbs are solid, and if they are available.  To get to the park itself, you take 55 south to 80 west to 178 south, exit 81, then follow the signs.
Bring hiking boots (heavy snow boots won’t fit the crampons), layers!, rain pants/ski pants, rain jacket/waterproof coat/shell, sunglasses/safety glasses, a thin hat that can fit under a helmet, lots of gloves (especially water resistant/proof), extra socks, and maybe chemical hand/foot warmers.  You might also want another set of dry clothes for dinner and the drive home.
You are responsible for your lunch, drinks and snacks.  We’ll have some food and some warm drinks and soup.  Afterwards we’ll meet at Duffy’s for dinner – you’ll drive by it on the way in, it’s in the little downtown area.
If you have the Motorola Talkabout walkie-talkies please bring them, the two canyons are about a half mile apart.  We’ll use channel 7-7.
Please remember to thank Jeff and Chris and Drew profusely for going early and setting up the ropes for us and for spending their climbing day getting all of us on the ice.  Also others helping out such as Nadine who is coordinating the food along with Chris for us.
I’ll send out rough riding groups, but we can sort it out at the church – let’s plan to meet in the parking lot at 7:15am on Saturday.
If you want to go hiking before or after your climbing, it’s a beautiful place.  Right on the Illinois River.  Apparently the eagles winter there.  There’s also a pretty amazing lodge that you can check out (and use to warm up in if hiking and climbing and warm drinks and lots of layers don’t work for you).
I’m sure there will be more emails to follow, but this is the plan for now.  My cell should work there but may not – it’s 773-965-2546.  Jeff’s I know works in the park, he’s at 312-505-2813.
Looking forward to it!  😀
PS – This is a True Adventures ministry event, our basic tenets are to do especially adventurous and fun activities in the outdoors with Christians and non-Christians and share a meal together afterwards.  In the past we’ve gone caving, sailing, sea kayaking, midnight canoeing, mountain biking, and whitewater rafting.  Watch for more events this year.


And the second email a couple days before the trip:

Almost time to climb!!

We’ve been really lucky – the weather’s been amazing for ice climbing – and supposed to be cold through Saturday, where it should warm up a bit for us.  Should be plenty of great ice for us.
Plan is still to meet in the church parking lot (1001 North Crosby) at 7:15am and head out shortly thereafter.  At Starved Rock, let’s wait up for each other about ten minutes or so in the parking lot near the trolleys and totem poles and hike down together.  If you’ve missed us for whatever reason french canyon and wildcat canyon are fairly easy to find with some wandering and lots of stairs, cell phones and walkie talkies should work.  Our rope chiefs will be leaving around 5:30am. 
If you’re not coming please let me know – we have people that would like your spot.
Plan is to climb in the easier french canyon and then climb the more severe Wildcat formation – they may not be available in which case we may climb at Tonti canyon – which is definitely worth the hike even if we don’t climb there – two very cool ice formations in a pretty impressive canyon a few miles past French and Wildcat.  Coincidentally the Munising Ice Fest happens to be this weekend (not because of my brilliant planning, wish I could say it was) so fingers crossed there won’t be as many other climbers around.
Plan to head to Duffy’s for dinner in Utica afterwards, it’s a few minutes from the Park in downtown Utica, we drive right past it at 

101 Mill St
Utica, IL 61373

(815) 667-4324.

If you don’t have a fax or scanner, bring the waivers Saturday, no worries.  We’ll have some blank ones there if you need them.
Rides as follows, (drivers you’re responsible for finding your riders Sat am):
Rachel, Leah, Kristen in Rachel’s car (or Leah’s or Kristen’s)
Sean, Jason, Keith, Andrew in Andrew’s car
Katy, Amber, me in my car
Liz, Nadine, Colin, Nick in Nick’s car 
Chris, Jeff, John, Drew – our champion lead climbers are organizing themselves.
Did I forget anything?  If so let me know, any questions email or text or call me, 773-965-climb.
A brief lesson on what will happen if you haven’t climbed before.  First you will put on a harness around your waist and legs and snug it down.  Then you’ll fit the crampons (spiky metal boot thingers) to your boots and strap them on.  Then tie in to the rope.  Next put the ice axe straps on your wrists and take hold of the axe handles.  Check out your belayer’s setup and have him check your harness and knot.  Then cruise up to the ice and say “climbing” and wait for your belayer to say “climb on!”  And off you go, up the icefall.  Easy as that 😉  We’ll show you how to do everything.
If you have happen to have “gaiters”, used for hiking in deep snow, bring them to keep from cutting up your pants with the crampons.
Can’t wait!

2 Responses to Ice Climbing Tomorrow With 17

  1. Kingfish says:

    Dude, your blog is off the chart. Looking at starting one so I checked your out. You are living the dream.

  2. I’m new in Michigan and I am looking for some ice climbing spots around the state. Can you help me with that? I’m looking for a guided tour with some equipment rental for a party of 5 climbers.


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