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February 24, 2009

One of the most satisfying parts of being a trip leader with the Alpine Club of Canada is definitely introducing new people to the vertical world. This past Sunday marked the third and final of the Beginner’s Ice Days on the Section’s winter events calendar, and as always was bags of fun. Cooperative weather (sun and warm temps), with a hint of spring in the air, certainly made for a good one.

p1070981Having done several of these clinics, I’m surprised that the novelty still has yet to wear off for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m plenty happy the events calendar is nearly done and it’s now all “me-time” for the rest of the season, just in time for super spring ice, but these clinics really are a lot of fun. Over the past few winters, we’ve introduced literally hundreds of people to ice climbing for the first time, and it’s always a great day out (especially since we got smart and stopped running them on very cold days).

p1070982It’s always entertaining watching folks learn to walk in crampons (always good for a ripped pant leg or two), see people experience the barfies for the first time, share in the success of someone reaching the top of their first ice climb, or listen to the cursing of someone whose nose bore the brunt of a dinner plate (and maybe even patch them up).

p1070983Even after so many clinics, I find I still can’t quite pick out who will be the naturally gifted climbers, who will pick it up after a couple of laps, and those who never will. Great climbers certainly do all come in great shapes and sizes. In every group, there’s at least one new climber who impresses me, and they’re never who I think they might be over breakfast. I always hope they decide to stick with it. For some reason, they just don’t need to be coached at all. Swinging tools comes naturally for them, they intuitively know how to place their crampons and they look as if they’ve climbed all their lives.

More impressive though are the ones who struggle with the foreign nature of it all. Their clothing is too cumbersome, their boots too big, their left arm utterly useless, their fingers numb. Many of them do figure it out before long though, and after a monumental epic they reach the top of one of the harder topropes of the day, and the look in their eyes makes it all worth it.

I’m already looking forward to next winter’s clinics. A big shout out of thanks to all the folks who helped run these clinics this season, and to all the great participants who made it all worthwhile!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Lynn Martel permalink
    March 11, 2009 19:18

    hi Nick,

    Nancy Hansen forwarded me the link to this story, and I’m wondering (it was her great suggestion!), if you might be interested in letting us use it in the Fall/Winter 2009 issue of the ACC Gazette? It’s such a great perspective.

    And also, great work with Rick Mercer!

    I look forward to hearing from you,

    Lynn Martel
    ACC Gazette

  2. Nick Buda permalink*
    March 11, 2009 20:31

    Hi Lynn – I’m flattered you guys wanna use it, and more than happy to support the Gazette – feel free to use it as you see fit! I’ll email you directly if you need higher-res pics or anything.

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