Ice Climbing

Since coming to Green Mountain College I have studied Adventure Education, a program to help students prepare to become leaders in the backcountry.  Some of the classes I have had to take include outdoor living skills, essentials of winter mountain travel, as well as an entire semester completely dedicated to traveling, hiking, biking, canoeing, backpacking, rock climbing, and rafting.  Althouth I am still have many activities that I enjoy pursuing, ice climbing has certainly been a highlight.

Ice climbing can be scary when you are repelling (climbing down from an anchor on top) from a 150 foot cliff.  People below look like mice and the landscape like a endless panaramac photo of white tree-covered mountains.  During my essentials of winter mountain travel class this is exactly how my experience ice climbing felt.  This experience truly pushed my comfort with height as I had to trust the other student as they lowered me down about 15 feet.  As soon as I shouted “thank you” the belayer stopped lowering me and prepared to take in slack as I began to climb.  At that moment, I will admit even I was a bit scared.  I was hanging there about 15 feet down from a 150 foot cliff on a rope attached to my harness with only ice picks and crampons.  I did make it back to the top, but the experience was an example of why I enjoy studying adventure education.

Although not from the experience I described above, here is a video of myself ice climbing a much shorter cliff.  Hopefully this will give a taste of ice climbing.  Enjoy!

~Andrew O’Neill

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