Trying Ice Climbing for the First Time

By: Jodi Marks

I can’t believe that another year has rolled by so quickly! I have so much to be thankful for in 2010. It was a great year of celebrating friendships, my daughter’s entrée into her senior year of high school, and the many blessing of work and career.

Preparing for ice climbing

Preparing for ice climbing

So, in keeping with celebrating, Steve and I decided to challenge ourselves by doing something out of the ordinary to ring in 2011, we decided to try our hand at ice climbing! Nervous at first, I didn’t know if I would have the guts or the strength to rise to the mission. But after great coaching from our professional ice-climbing trainer, we both were up and on the ice in no time.

I have to admit; looking up at the 35’ wall of ice our instructor used for training, I turned to Steve and said, “you first.” I wasn’t sure if I could do it! Steve made his way to the top in no time . . . his best friend from his college football days had joined us, and the two athletes just seemed to float to the summit of the wall.

They made it look so easy! Once Steve climbed out of the gear, he handed me the ice picks, signaling it was my turn.

I always thought that climbing, whether on ice or rocks, was all about your upper body strength. While it is true you need to be “arm strong,” the legs are really where all your power rests in getting you up the wall.

Ice climbing straight up

Running out of gas!

I also marveled at the equipment: the clamps that fit over the climbing boots reminded me of a bear trap! The steel teeth just shredded the thick layer of ice as I kicked and dug in to push myself up.

Swinging the picks to crack the surface was intimidating at first, but once I was more than five feet from the ground, there was no room for fear or doubt if I wanted to keep moving upward!

I am very proud of the effort I made that morning on the ice wall. I didn’t reach the top, my legs were on fire about halfway up; but gauging my progress, I was pretty darn close before I literally ran out of gas.

Pushing away from the ice sheet, they gently lowered me back to the ground and I fell over in the snow sweating and panting. Wow! What a rush!

I couldn’t talk or walk for a minute, but I told Steve that was the best way to start out the new year . . . doing the best I could and being comfortable with my limitations.

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