12 Jan

Keystone Canyon Ice Climbing: POS and the Alaska X Factor


Will this shirt be too warm? Where’s my helmet? Oh my God there is a mouse nest in my climbing boot. Getting ready for ice climbing after years away from the sport was not relaxing. Still, the ski terrain was a mixture of wind crust and rock and I was getting tired of indoor pursuits.

My climbing partner and I knew that we were not mentally or physically prepared to lead an ice climb. We went to the place many locals go to brush up on their skills with the comfort of a top rope: Piece of (you know what), also called POS.

POS is in a dark spot that doesn’t receive any sunlight during the dark days of winter. However, even when the wind is howling, the little nook is calm and quiet.

There is an easy route up the left side of the climb. As the climb fills in, a more difficult pillar develops on the right. The pillar is only truly vertical for a couple of moves. However, vertical ice is enormously more challenging than ice that is slightly less than vertical. The small vertical portion is a great place to practice the skills needed on more difficult climbs.