If you go back to climb the same route on rock time after time, you may have a psychiatric problem. You can’t climb the same ice route time after time. The gist will be the same – same basic angle, relative water supply, temperature range, etc. The ice, though, will be brittle, squeaky dry, slushy, plastic, crystal, blue, green, featureless, chandelier, thin, fat, mixed – new every time.
You have to reinvent yourself every season, too. At the beginning, the sticks feel squirrelly and the feet, rickety. An ice screw every 8 feet anchors your psyche.
Then the truth starts to come back to you. The last tooth on the pick will hold you. A good stick has a quality you can measure with your hands, eyes and ears. Spread your weight across hips, knees and ankles and the feet can float on the most delicate candles.
Then you can move, making it safe with every swing. The screws will keep you off the deck if the ice betrays you, because that is the only way you’ll fall.
I know, it’s aid, and so it’s easy like aid, the way a hand crack through a roof is easy, the way an offwidth is easy. But it is so cool to travel by real faith like that, not blind belief from a book or other people, but faith from knowledge you can’t get from words. In fact, it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done, each and every time.