By Vincent Reichheld ’14
The Brewster Academy Outdoor Skills Program (BAOSP) is devoted to teaching safe travel in the mountains. This involves teaching and practicing technical ice and rock climbing along with mountaineering. Outdoor Skills is not your ordinary sports program, because of the inherent danger of the mountains, skills must be taught and practiced long before any committing objectives can be challenged. However, once the essential skills are gained the possibilities are vast. Here is a day in the mountains with BAOSP:
Our group consists of four members, each with varying levels of experience. Vicente, our least experienced member, is out on his first day of ice climbing. Greg, a Floridian, is starting his third season ice climbing. Rounding off our group is Jonathan Fouser, our teacher and climbing instructor.
We embark on our journey at 8 o’clock by boarding a rickety old minibus. As the bus crests the ridge leading in Crawford Notch we are granted a spectacular view. Bathed with morning light, the snow-capped peak of Mount Washington rises out of the landscape. As we drive into the notch we start to prepare for the day. We pack our climbing equipment and warm layers into rucksacks, lace our boots and strap our crampons (metal spikes used for purchase on ice) on.
After an hour and a half of driving we pull into a crowded, snow dusted, dirt parking lot deep in the mountains. The anticipation creates an electric mood that is met sharply by the sublime backdrop. There is little snow on the ground and the scramble to the base of the climb is tedious. We pick our way through ice covered rock gullies and traverse over talus fields.
Finally we reach the climb and rope up. One by one we ascend the sheer ice to a perch above. Again and again we ascend, allowing the rhythm of the activity to become intoxicating. Swing, kick, kick, swing, kick, kick. As we climb the world around fades out, there is only now, no past and no future. Hours of upward progress bring us to the summit and we look out upon the spectacular expanse beneath us. We are tired, we are cold, we are hungry and we are thirsty but there is no place we would rather be.