Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Instructor Ice at the Notch

Beginning the approach.
Ice Climbing is a popular program offered in the winter months at SMC, such that even instructors have a hard time getting on a trip. So two weekends ago, the program ran an Intro Ice day for instructors who haven’t been out on the ice much yet, or who wanted to review skills. The day involved: reviewing crampon use/movement, getting to and from the wall (‘the approach’), proper climbing and resting technique, as well as expectations at the base of the climb. The conditions were wonderful: soft ice and mild temperatures, which are great for first-timers.

Instructor-in-training Meghan ascending
one of the intro routes.
I had never been climbing on ice before, and I found that it was challenging in a different way than rock was. In my experience, 90% of the challenge on my first day out was learning to trust the tools and the crampons on my feet. In theory, it would make sense that one should feel secure (because one IS secure) when ascending ice with sharp things. Realizing that definitely took an adrenaline rush (or two) before I was able to really hang on my tools, but at the end of the day I felt I'd learned a lot. If you're thinking about an ice trip, I highly recommend it!

Peace, Love & Snow,

-Ben R.
Instructors JJ (Jess) and Jen, all smiles.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Snake Mountain Snowshoe

The snowshoe-crew.
As the weather warmed from the unbearable arctic vortex, an ecstatic group of students ventured to Snake Mountain for a night of stargazing at the 1200’ summit. Upon arriving at the parking lot, it was evident that the arctic vortex had one more night on its itinerary with temperatures hovering around 10 and wind chills down to -5 degrees. Who ever said cold weather could hold back a group of SMC students?! After learning the gear from assistant instructor, Forrest Owen, the group made their way up the ice covered trail to the summit. Once there, the group was welcomed to a 180 degree view Vermont scenery darkened by a moonless sky. Although the stars were not out, the group had some fun with absorbing the silence of the Vermont wilderness and participating in some light writing. After thirty minutes at the summit, we began our descent back down the icy slope and back to the van.

All in all the hike was a good one with many new friends. Interested in going on a hike just like this one? Go to the Wilderness office on the second floor of Alliot Hall! We are offering snowshoe hikes, backcountry skiing, ice climbing and mountaineering trips but they are filling up fast!

Tom and Forrest