High Adventure Club takes on ice climbing


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[wzslider autoplay="true" interval="6000" height="600" info="true" lightbox="true"]   Students from the High Adventure Club at Central Michigan University traveled to Fenton this weekend to practice their ice climbing abilities at the Peabody Ice Climbing complex.

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.

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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.

Discovering adventure

Davies, a four-time ice climber, said it was all in the thrill of adventure for him.

"Not a lot of people know about these activities – they're not very popular – but there are people who do them on a daily basis, and it's not that difficult to get into if you know the right people who can show you how to do it," he said. "And that's what is so great about the High Adventure Club. We're all about getting members who know how to do these things, and then having them show the other members."
HAC sponsors two larger trips a year. In the fall semester, they go white water rafting in West Virginia, and in the spring, they travel to the ice festival in Fenton.
Throughout the course of the year, the group plans several smaller trips, be it caving in southern Indiana, rock climbing in Kentucky or even backpacking through the Michigan countryside for a weekend, Davies said.
Andrews said the HAC gives her a chance to get out and get active with her classmates.
"I did a lot of sports in high school, but my first year of college I didn't do anything, just school and work, and it drove me nuts," she said. "I can't sit still for that long, and then I discovered the High Adventure Club, and the rock wall here, and everything else, and I've really enjoyed it."
Perez, a first-timer with the club, was glad she had gone with the group, giving her a chance to get out and have new experiences.
"I just think it's really important to get outside and interact with the elements in the winter time, because it's really easy to get depressed and hate winter," she said. "If you go out and get active, that really helps with that."


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