By Calvin Grover ’22
To me, ice climbing has always been an “extreme” sport. Relegated to bucket lists, pipe dreams and watching youtube videos, it always seemed like something I would enjoy, but not something I would be able to do for awhile, without extensive research and preparation. This assumption was turned on its head when Mr. Tholen announced in a school meeting that there would be an ice climbing trip coming up on a weekend. I immediately turned to my friend Jacob and told him; “Oh yeah. We’re gonna do that.” Luckily, he was just as enthusiastic as I was, because we both share a passion for trying new things, and especially filming ourselves trying those new things. His face lit up, and his response was immediate; “It’s going to be an epic video.”
A week and a half later, we stood in deep snow, with crampons strapped to our feet and sharp ice tools in our hands, in front of a looming ice slab. Jacob and I looked foolish, two buffoons with GoPro cameras gorilla taped to our helmets. We felt cool as we repeatedly completed the beginner climb, only stopping for lunch or to let someone else have a turn. Ice chips flew as we dug into the slanted face with sharpened steel, as our hands and toes went numb. Over the course of the day, we improved significantly, each climb making us more precise when we swung the ice tools, or kicked in our crampon front points. Our group was of a large range of climbing backgrounds, from experienced mountaineers to beginners who didn’t wear snowpants. We all had fun climbing, even though we were not able to progress onto any of the vertical challenging faces that surrounded us, because it was a crowded spot. I think we all went home tired, pushing ourselves in a sport that most of us, myself included, have never had the opportunity to try. For those of us who wanted to try more difficult stuff, there has been discussions of another, more advanced trip, likely next year!