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Ice World

The key element to extreme sports is that once you've really pushed yourself to the limit, maybe even risked everything, it provides a new way of seeing the world. Like a snowboarder who's sailing 30 feet off a mountain, I've seen these guys, you can't breathe while they're moving it's so hairy. Or the guys who ride big waves. These waves are half the size of a fuckin' hotel. If you screw up there, you're dead. After those experiences, how are you going to disturb a guy like that? He wakes up in the morning knowing he's going to risk grave bodily harm and when he pulls it off and remains serene throughout, it's because he's dispensed with so much of the "God my shoes hurt & my girlfriend's a bitch & phone bill's too much." He's blown all the clutter away and connected with something way more absolute and powerful. Then all of a sudden you have a whole new perspective. Henry Rollins, author/icon Rollins words echoed in my head as my axe busted out of the ice for the umpteenth time and the ledge I had precariously kicked into began to crumble away. Nothing else mattered at that moment. I felt I was carved out of the same cold blue ice as the wall I was on. We'd spent Saturday fooling around on the ice wall at bottom of Aka-dake. Blue sky and blue ice, we raced for the top of the wall to reach the sunlight which warmed its top. In the minus 17 degree air every ray of sun burned like a furnace where it hit my upturned face. Sunday was a waterfall climb known locally as the God of the Mountains, a 200 foot plume of icicles and blue-white ice in winter. Once you start you either finish or fall. We kicked and chopped, shouting when our arms became too pumped to make the next swing and whooping when the axes bit deeply and carried us to the top. A lone deer followed the river below the frozen fall, turning its intense gaze to the men waging war on the blue ice. As our eyes met, Rollin's words came to me again. He's blown all the clutter away and connected with something way more absolute and powerful.

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