I just got through a round of ice climbing as the first climbs of the season started to come into shape over the past few weeks. As expected my crampons, picks and screws are pretty beat up after dealing with thin ice and rocks sneakily hidden under unconsolidated snow. I've got two sets of tools, six crampons and nine screws to file and resharpen over the next few days of Christmas.
Ice conditions in the eastern Alps were really starting to come into shape after more that a week of very cold weather in mid-December. However, it seems that Santa has brought the Föhn with him along with all his other goodies. Obviously the jolly fat guy doesn't climb ice.
Until yesterday (22. December), we experienced a spell of very cold weather in a pattern coming from the northeast. Through Christmas day and St. Stevens a pattern of Föhn conditions will dominate. Hopefully the high temps and warm winds won't destroy all the ice that has already been built up.
So what was/is in shape? The ice falls in Pitztal above 1300 meters, the Anlauf vally in Böckstein in the Gastein valley, Koppenwand between Obertauern and Untertauern, and some small flows in the area between Salzburg and Berchtesgaden.
Andy Kirkpatrick has revamped his webpage. He has started posting some interesting tips relted to winter climbing, clothing, gear, etc. Check it out at http://www.andy-kirkpatrick.com/.
Lastly, I would like to wish all a very merry Christmas and a healthy 2010.