Members of the club traveled there Friday morning to climb the massive man-made ice walls before the festival’s official start Saturday.
“The climbing areas were two metal structures (where) they pour water over from the top down over the course of several days and let it freeze like a natural sort of waterfall,” said Jeffrey Davies, a Commerce senior. “You get spikes on your boots and pickaxes to climb up with, then you clip yourself into a rope for safety, and climb your way up.”
The two walls were 75 feet and 45 feet tall, respectively, and took several days to create.
“You have to really dig into the ice with your tools to make it to the top,” Davies said. “Both walls were tilted at different angles, so one had a more severe tilt that makes it easier to climb, and the other was nearly vertical, making it much more difficult.”
On Saturday night, after the climbing was done for the day, the students and other patrons enjoyed a party in the barn, which included live music, food and dancing.
Dealing with the cold
The group planned to camp out in tents in the orchard, but was instead able to sleep on the barn floor with a space heater to combat the subzero temperatures.
“We expected to be sleeping outside in tents, so we were happy when the owner of the place offered us the barn floor to sleep on,” said Arian Perez, a grad student from Sandusky. “It was still plenty cold, I think it was around negative 20 Friday night and negative 10 Saturday.”
Perez said he was excited about sleeping outdoors, highlighting the adventure and the challenge, but knew it would be awful while the group was fighting the cold throughout the night.
Many of the students who went had never been ice climbing before.
“I got into rock climbing a while ago, but I’d never been ice climbing before, so I just sort of had a ‘why not?’ mentality about it,” said Miranda Andrews, a Reed City junior. “I really enjoyed it, I mean, it’s definitely different than rock climbing. I think it requires more strength, really, but once you get used to it, it’s just as fun.”
Perez echoed her sentiments, and said she had been looking for like-minded people to be active with on campus.
“I wanted to go because I love climbing and being active, and I wanted to meet people early on in the semester that shared my interests,” Perez said. “So when something came up again, I could jump on board.”
The High Adventure Club has made an annual trip to go ice climbing for several years now, Davies said. The club used to travel to the Upper Peninsula every year to a different ice festival, but they changed their prices and stopped offering the group a special discount, so the members found a new venue.
Davies, a four-time ice climber, said it was all in the thrill of adventure for him.