I’ve got my eyes (so to speak) on some big, cold mountain objectives this year, so time on ice has been a focus. To put in some training on thin, desperate ice, I called up my buddy Ian Osteyee, who haunts the ephemeral smears of the Adirondacks outside Keene, NY.

Ian is a Marine like my pops, and we actually met in a funny way: I went out east to climb with my friend Geoff Tabin, and work swept him away, so he introduced me to Ian as a stand-in. Turns out Ian is a total stud, specializing in some of the thinnest ice around, and we have climbed together ever since, from the Moose’s Tooth in Alaska to Point Five Gully on Scotland’s Ben Nevis, one of the ice test pieces of the world. We even climbed Losar together, a 3000-ft. line above the village of Namche Bazar in Nepal, when I went over there to meet my son, Arjun.

a photo of three guys smiling on an ice face
With Ian O, and new climbing buddy, Rob Belensky

I arrived in Keene and was picked up by Ian, who immediately demonstrated the perfect ice conditions by mashing the brakes and sliding across the twisting mountain road to his house. Unfortunately, some wet weather came in, and we climbed the Goat’s Foot in a total downpour – I have never before had to wring out my socks and boxers at the end of the day. Character building, you might say.

a photo of erik on an ice climbing face called goats foot
Goat’s Foot
a photo of erik holding a smirnoff ice
Enjoying a classy libation

Over the next few days, we climbed some New England classics, such as Power Play, but the real treat was a repeat (for Ian and me both) of Neurosis, a Grade 5 ice line featuring overhanging chandeliers, delicate tool placements, and a rope-stretching first pitch, which Ian dispatched with cool ease.

a photo of erik and friend ice climbing on power play route
Up on Power Play at Chapel Pond
a photo of erik straight on looking cold on power play
Feeling nice and warm…
a photo of erik ice climbing on neurosis
Crushing Neurosis

We enjoyed the climb so much, I lost track of time, and was forced to sprint through airport security to make my talk in less-icy Dallas, Texas. All this training is making me feel pretty strong – stay tuned for more plans.

Photo Credits: Ian Osteyee