The maple-colored mushroom of ice loomed above my head. Snow piled atop my helmet, pelted my face, and coated the thick Northern Minnesota forest. I had just hiked up a short 60-degree incline to reach the vertical wall of ice. Now I was supposed to hammer my axes above my head, kick into the ice with my crampons, and step up onto my toes. It was maybe twenty feet to the top, and this handful of narrow metal tips was supposed to hold all 145 pounds of me as I climbed my way up the frozen waterfall.
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