After picking the brain of one of the locals at the sports shop downtown, we set out discover our first Maine ice, Frankfort Quarry: quarry by spring / summer / fall, but during the winter, a place for snowy hikes and icy climbs. We found the spot easily enough (“turn at Waldo Mountain Road, park on the left when you get to the gate”).
Hiking up the trail towards the quarry, we crossed paths with a runner on his way down. Asking him about the ice climbing area – which must be accessed by crossing a frozen pond – he replied in his wonderfully odd Maine accent, “I wouldn’t cross that pond – not yet anyways”.
We kept hiking and figured we’d test the ice for ourselves. Friends of ours had climbed just the day before and had tested the thickness of the pond in several areas with their ice screws, so we felt fairly confident that the ice should hold…
Upon reaching the quarry, our hopes of climbing some thick, epic ice were deflated. The ice was definitely there, but pretty thin in most places. Now, I was happy because this is all single-pitch ice. I go up, I get to come back down. Good practice climbing ice and getting more acquainted with my new tools and climbing ice in general. However, that being said, the ice needs more time to form. Or, we’ll have to get used to mixed climbing (where you climb using your tools on both ice and rock).
So, yeah, all in all, a *little* disappointing but we know there’s more ice out there and we’re glad there’s any here in Maine at all.
Long story short: we approach the frozen pond, walking very gingerly over the surface and noticing a few refrozen cracks as we go. We get to what appears to be a little island in the middle and Myra breaks through. Stephane is able to grab her right away, pull her up and out and we hightail it home.
Live to climb another day!