Assessing One’s Capabilities

An Attack Of Discretion

It happens, on occasion

A look down one of the many valleys in the Finger Lakes. Image by the author.

It is winter in New York’s Finger Lakes.

The region is one of many particularly beautiful areas in the state. All-year-round. The hills and valley-filling lakes are uniquely picturesque.

In many places, rushing water has cut deep gullies into the hillsides. These creek beds, cut through the sedimentary rock, are great places for exploration. Particularly when most of the water becomes static.

Bob suggested a hike up Clark Gully, near his home.

The author took this photo of Bob at the beginning of the hike.
Bob provides scale for this photo by the author as the sidewalls of the gully rise.
Snow highlights the jagged outcroppings. Photo by author.
“Don’t step there,” said Bob, as the author took this photo.

During the entire hike up the gully, one can hear the gurgling water below. Time, temperature, and speed of flow determine the holding power of the ice.

A bit of a jumble beneath the first falls. Photo by author.
Bob is creating a plan of attack as the author takes this photo.
The author’s photo of the author’s spikes.

Crampons, or spikes, are essential for scaling icy creeks. Strapped onto one’s boots, they greatly reduce the degree of difficulty.

Fast flow from the falls fails to freeze. Image by the author.
Bob starts up. Photo by author.
Using an ice ax is advantageous. Photo by author.
Photo by Bob of the author climbing up the second falls.

Not unlike the video games of old, every time one surmounts one level, another more difficult one is revealed.

Photo of the third falls by author.
Along with Bob, the ice ax wonders how to attack the falls. Photo by author.

There was no clear path up the third fall. If we were being chased by a horde of goblins and had a film crew, we would have tried it. Or if we had 80 fewer years between us. But eying several different lines of ascent, we could not see a path that did not sport bright-red virtual flashing lights.

“I’ve done this before,” said Bob, “But with better equipment and ropes.”

“I’m not thinking it’s in the cards.”

“No argument from you?”

“No, not today. I’m suffering from an uncharacteristic attack of discretion.”

Bob heads down as the author snaps a picture.
Further down, Bob searches for hand holds used on the way up. Photo by author.
Bob took this photo of the author’s good side as he descended.

It’s actually significantly dicier coming down than going up. On the way up, one can see the mistakes being made much more easily, and possibly even avoid them.

Climbing icy waterfalls provided a nice little hike, but there was more time to enjoy the clean air and blue sky. Conklin Gully is nearby and has ice which is climbed by the REAL crazies.

Bob captured the author on the north rim, with “Little Angel” ice falling across the chasm.

There were no climbers on the falls, but Bob has seen them many times.

In 2011, Bob zoomed in to capture this photo of a climber.
Bob also captured this image at nearly the same time.

See if you can find the climber. Wouldn’t you love to be up there with that guy?

“I’m not thinking it’s in the cards.”



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