Tuesday, March 8, 2011
This past weekend, local mountain enthusiast Dan Zimmerman was killed in an avalanche on the rolling flanks of Mt. Cashmere. Dan and I were only long time acquaintances, but we did share a common passion for the peaks and valleys of the Stuart Range. While Dan shredded down mountains, I clawed up them. We ran into each other often in the Icicle, always translating shared condition reports into our respective dialects of climber and skier. Dan wanted white smoke and I wanted blue ice. We both wanted days high in the alpine with our friends.
My canyon wanderings the past few days have been quiet and reflective. Dan's spirit has moved on, softly blowing through the pines, down the rushing river, and up into the rimed peaks. The Icicle won't be the same without him.
A finger injury has kept me resting the past few weeks. Although I can't crank on the rock right now, I can swing a tool, so I have been prowling the cold corners of the Icicle for thin ice and mixed routes. Yesterday, I followed a thin runnel up a rock face, into a corner and over a scratchy roof, establishing a fun 100 foot M5 R pitch. Located above the Snow Creek trail, this line defines the "here today, gone tomorrow" nature of ephemeral ice lines. Five days ago it wasn't there and now it's on the way out.
It's not an incredible effort or a climb of any importance, but to me it will always be known as Dan's Drip. Life, like ice, is so fragile and temporary. When a climb melts out we don't forget the line. When someone moves from this life to the next we remember them forever. RIP Dan.