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Frozen waterfalls attract adventurous climbers

TWO HARBORS, Minn. -- Anyone who talks to Bob Myer will know his one true passion is being outdoors and climbing anything he can sink his picks into, whether it be a rock cliff or a wall of ice.

TWO HARBORS, Minn. - Anyone who talks to Bob Myer will know his one true passion is being outdoors and climbing anything he can sink his picks into, whether it be a rock cliff or a wall of ice.

Myer, 59, of Two Harbors has been climbing for 22 years. He started rock climbing and then transitioned into ice climbing. It can be dangerous.

“When you put all the variables together, the cold, the ice, the water, the weather, and then you come up with an activity that is both interesting and thrilling that you have to have some knowledge of, and you put that all together and you go out there and climb and then go home, you’ve won. You get a feeling of accomplishment,” he said. “Luckily I’ve never been hurt climbing. But it’s the peril that’s somewhat enticing.”

Myer, originally from Ohio, moved to Minnesota in 1990. In Ohio, Myer said, he cycled year-round, but Minnesota’s weather makes that difficult so he decided to take up something new - climbing. The biggest difference between winter and summer climbing, Myer said, is that rock is forever, but the ice is only temporary.

“You have to be ready for the ice breaking,” he said. “I look at it as vertical chess, but once you get the basics, the anchor system and the safety issues down, and you make sure that’s always at the forefront of your mind, it’s all fun after that.”

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The other big difference, he said, is - obviously - the cold weather, which makes for chilly hands and feet.

“Be prepared, because if you don’t have happy hands and happy feet, you’re going home.” Myer said. “Happy hands and happy feet make for a happy climber. I have electric gloves and electric insoles.”

According to Myer, the best weather to climb in is somewhere between zero and 25 degrees, and with those kinds of temperatures people need to make sure to stay dry.

“With ice climbing you build up a lot of heat, so you’ve got to really watch yourself that you don’t get wet under your clothes because you will get cold,” Myer said. “There are a lot of things that go into climbing and as soon as I’m done with a route my helmet comes off, my gloves are off and my zippers are all open because all that energy that you put out, the byproduct is heat.

“I climb on my own a lot, so it’s just me out there, so I have to make sure that I know what I’m really doing if I want to come back,” he said.

Adelle Whitefoot is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.
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