- Feb 15, 2013
FreezeFest had no "buzz" this year. Inquiries were met with crickets. After all, who would want to be responsible for others getting seriously ill? As it turned out, someone had onset of symptoms upon arrival at Santhrax and 4 folks eventually tested positive, one with bad cold symptoms. Relieved that it was not worse.
Anyway, even without any confirmation of the event, 43 people showed up over the 7 day event. We had 23 men and 20 women and 18 new folks. The weather was on the warm side, yet blustery with most days were mostly cloudy. No measurable precipitation fell. That was the weather, at least it was, until New Year's Eve, when the wind direction changed, the winds increased and the temperature plummeted.
With the New Year dawning to a bright sunny sky, with temps in the low teens, more than a half a dozen sensible souls decided that the January 1st Black Hole was not in their immediate future. This left 9 determined folks. This was FreezeFest XX and would be the 19th year that the Hole got done on January 1st. More than half those years had 20+ participants. But the numbers have slowly been trending down for the last half dozen years, with successively lower group totals in the teens, until this year we found ourselves in single digits, for the first time since FreezeFest IV, which had 8 folks.
With the temperatures never going above 22, this was likely for the best. The wind mocked us, staying in our faces all day long. The canyon had flowed in the last week and not only were the swimmers tippy top full, but there was an unusual amount of wading to be done in areas usually dry. That added an hour to the day.
Only 1 person had not done a January 1st Hole before, so it was a seasoned group, that largely stayed together most of the day, with 2 moving forward mid canyon with a leaking dry suit. I was the only one who got cold, just a little shivering. With age, more neoprene creates more restriction to my movement and I take less rubber than I used to, getting by with a 4/3 with a few holes. Perhaps a little to little with the wind this year. Got by with a little help from my friends. The passage was uneventful other wise. I just may come back next year.