Outing Club: Ice Climbing Adventure

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Jack Allsopp

Savannah James about to reach the top of the ice wall.

Jack Allsopp, Editor-in-Chief

Rays of sunlight broke through barren trees and brought the slightest bit of warmth to a shivering February day. A two-tiered wall of snow and ice towered above us, challenging our group to conquer it. Long crystal clear icicles slowly dripped in the sunlight but the wall held unmoved by the feeble rays. Soon the silence of a winter forest would be broken by the clash of steel against ice as humans fueled by adrenaline did what they do best: explore the forces of nature. 

Last Sunday, February 23rd, UNE’s Outing Club arose at the crack of dawn for a day of Ice Climbing; the activity of vertically scaling a wall of ice. Utilizing the International Mountain Climbing School guiding services, we were led by Guides Nickel and Dan to show us the ropes. 

Jack Allsopp
Rachel Potter at the top of ice wall supporting herself with two nicely placed ax’s.

After gearing up at the IMCS, Outing Club members Brennan Mitchel, Rachel Potter, Osage Crie, Haley Gilmore, Allie Gilbert, Savannah James, Sierra Roberts and myself drove to Cathedral Ledge in North Conway, New Hampshire and hiked in all the equipment to the 40-foot wall of sheer ice. Nickel gave us a brief on-site ice climbing 101 course, which taught up how to use our ice axes and microspikes (spikes attached to the bottom of a boot that gives traction on ice) while Dan set up the ropes.  After a short practice session at ground level, we began our various ascents.

Jack Allsopp
Brennan Mitchel focusing, mid-climb.

 

While mastering the technique of scaling a wall of ice takes patience and persistence, everyone managed to get the hang of it. Our group varied in experience from some who had never climbed before to others who were seasoned climbers. Experience was irrelevant that day, though, because the day was about having fun and pushing yourself to accomplish something new.  For some, getting to the top was the goal, for others, trying to reach the top with one ax proved to be the challenge.

 

After a few hours of working on the wall, climbing various sections at various difficulties, us tired climbers packed up and headed out. Satisfied with the day and exhausted from the physical challenge, we thanked our guides and returned all equipment, ready to nod off on the van ride home.