Outdoor center climbing trip // Photo by Brant Hill
By Brant Hill
While many students were celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. over the three-day-weekend, AS Outdoor Center was busy taking nine students, myself included, on an incredible ice climbing excursion in Canada.
The very technical and remote nature of ice climbing presents a very difficult challenge for many to organize and execute a successful trip of their own. Without any gear, or prior experience or knowledge of where to go, it can be nearly impossible to pull off such an advanced excursion, which is why I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I could not afford to miss out on.
The total price to participate was just under $300, which included food, lodging, transportation and gear for three whole days. Just buying your own climbing rope, harnesses, ice picks and more would cost far more than what was charged, and was well worth the experience.
Led by three excellent trip leaders, the 12 of us left campus Saturday, Jan. 19 at 5 a.m. on a four hour drive to the small town of Lillooet, British Columbia. Each day we would leave just as early from the two motel rooms we shared and head to a different climbing location, of increasing difficulty.
With only minimal previous climbing experience myself, I did not have much of an idea of what to expect. Most of the ice walls we encountered were frozen waterfalls tucked between mountain ridges and hidden underneath the tree line, only accessible by hiking through a rugged terrain of rocks, trees and snow.
Trip leaders did an excellent job of teaching all participants not only how to climb, but also how to belay other climbers up the ice. Before I knew it, the process became second nature.
The mechanics of ice climbing are similar to outdoor rock climbing, with the notable exception that in most cases there are no footholds on ice. Instead, you create your own holds by stabbing the ice with picks and kicking into the ice with heavy duty crampon spikes on your boots as you walk up a smooth cliff of ice.
It definitely takes some time to get used to the fact that frozen water alone can support your body weight, but after overcoming those initial suspicions the trip was an absolute blast.
If given the chance, you would not want to miss out on this once in a lifetime trip.