When I was climbing in King Ravine on Saturday, I found the ice to be well-bonded. But that's not going to be the point of my reply.
Ice climbing for me is not defined by the thickness of the ice. I relate climbing to adventure. I prefer the complexities and variety of early season climbing over mid-winter conditions. I choose to head out into the mountains at a time when the cold air just begins to take hold, when the excitement of winter starts to set in.. when finding ice is far from guaranteed, when conditions are constantly changing and when I'm able to climb in places that are covered by snow 90% of the winter months. It brings a feeling of discovery and new experiences to a place I've been going to for a long time. It's a time that I can be alone in a vast ravine with no others around and feel like I have the mountain range all to myself.
I'm far from crazy. It's not a matter of 'being a wimp' or in the opposite spectrum, 'being risky'. I'm a conservative climber. I just give a broader definition to climbing. Moving upwards, exploring, adventuring. It allows me to go out and see what I find. And then see if I'm comfortable climbing what I find. Being the mountains during the changing of seasons is unique and special and I would encourage everyone to look past these strict definitions of what "ice climbing" is.
An article I wrote last year on the topic:http://neice.com/2013/01/a-season-within-a-season/