As frigid temperatures blanketed the eastern seaboard this week, I had been planning on minimizing the time I spent outside in 12 degree weather. Visions of roaring fires and multiple blankets danced through my head as we kicked off the new year here at camp. That all changed this Wednesday, however, when Ryan, our director of Black Mountain Expeditions, walked into Adam Boyd’s office and asked the two of us “Want to go on an adventure tomorrow?”
We talk all the time about adventure here at camp. Our mission is growth though friends and adventure, and we’re convinced that we need adventure in our lives to continue to grow. It’s why our program is carefully structured to provide our girls with opportunities to seek new adventures and why we work so hard to make camp a safe place where campers feel supported and can try those new things. And it’s why Adam and I smiled at Ryan and said “You bet”.
So the next morning we loaded up in the pre-dawn light and headed out to find some adventure in the form of ice climbing.
Hiking into the wilderness of western North Carolina took some of the bite off the temperature and we were soon standing underneath a beautiful 140 foot waterfall, frozen into a solid sheet of ice. Ryan and Adam had both been ice climbing before, but I was the rookie, and they quickly coached me up on the basics. When ice climbing you use ropes and harnesses just like rock climbing, but also special boots with spikes to help you pierce the ice, as well as two “tools” that are basically small ice picks.
Ryan showing us how it’s done
Ryan climbed up first with Adam belaying, literally screwing 6 inch screws into the ice to anchor himself as he ascended. When my turn came I was very cold, and admittedly, a little nervous. I couldn’t believe I was about to try and climb up this huge ice face using only a couple picks and some spikey shoes. But that’s really the point, in the end. Trying something new and a little scary, supported by good friends, satisfies something in the very core of our nature. It’s in our DNA to experience new things together. I did one last set of jumping jacks to try and warm myself up and took the first step.
Getting ready-do we look cold?
Even though I couldn’t feel my hands by the end, it was exhilarating to summit the falls and exchange war whoops and high fives, drinking in the beauty of the creation around us. Rappelling back down, our hike out flew by as we talked about the adventures so many campers would experience this summer, and what other high adventure trips were on the horizon for Merri-Mac.
We hope everybody is staying warm and healthy this winter and that your new year is filled with new opportunities and experiences. We are counting down the days until our next summer of adventure begins!
Director, Camps Merri-Mac and Timberlake