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tors offered ice climbing to any Scout group that showed up each Saturday. From the start there was undeniable fervor, enough that Camp Alexander continued the Saturday program in 2011 and 2012. Brandon and his team also added a beginner’s course and an ice version of the Climbing merit badge to the camp’s 2012 lineup from mid-January to March.

INSIDE CAMP ALEXANDER’S Elks Lodge on Friday night, Scout leaders go over guide- lines for the following day’s events. Outside, beneath a smiling quarter moon, Scouts’ tents glow as lights-out time nears. A sea of LED headlamps jitterbug with anticipation. Saturday morning dawns crisp, clear, and—



fWear sturdy boots.

fDress in layers for cold weather.

f Use proper ice tools and safety gear (especially, wear a helmet).

f Use the tips of the ice tools when climbing.

f Look for natural holds for the ice tools and your crampons (depressions in the ice versus bulges).

f Use your arms to keep you on the ice.

f Use your legs to propel you up the ice.

f Always maintain three points of contact on the ice.

f Relax and enjoy the climb ... it will soon melt away.


TIPS fFind a certified instructor (IFMGA, PCIA, and AMGA are some of the first-rate certifi- cation agencies), preferably someone who knows the area where you plan to climb.

of Troop 654 in Parker and former Pioneer Trails District camping chairman, knows it’s important to keep Scouts on their toes with new challenges. “We create our own events for every camporee and klonderee,” he says Friday night. “That way, it’s always fresh for the boys. We’ve never had an ice climb before,” Lowe chuckles. “Officially.” John Bowerman’s explanation is even

better. “It takes a little bit of crazy,” says Bowerman, a Camp Alexander staffer. “But Scouting’s about being a little bit of crazy.” Officially, credit for Camp Alexander’s ice

wall goes to Sean Holveck and Joe Brandon. One of several climbing directors at the camp, Holveck broached the idea of ice climbing at Camp Alexander almost a decade ago. Camp Alexander, Holveck notes, is graced with a north-facing rock wall. Because it’s shaded during the day, it’s ideal for ice climbing. Brandon, the camp’s program and facilities manager, and also a climber, took matters into his own hands in the fall of 2010. “I just executed by dragging out 400 feet

of hose,” Brandon says of his do-it-yourself solution. But it wasn’t quite that simple. After extensive research, which focused primarily on the construction of the Ouray Ice Park in Colorado, the duo spent about two years testing various spraying devices until the perfect combination of mist and freezing tem- peratures produced the ice wall. That first winter, Camp Alexander instruc-

S COUTING ¿ January•February 2012

by Colorado standards—unseasonably warm, with temps in the 40s. This dampens a bit the Klonderee’s official title, “Blue Mountain Ice Xtreme,” but winter has done its work, laying a sheet of ice 12 inches thick across a small lake inside the camp. Several hundred Scouts (the Klonderee’s

official tally is 450) scurry toward the opening event: the Iditarod Sled Race. The race consists of sledding across the icy lake and then charg- ing into the woods to find small flags. Sled design and strategy takes imagina-

tion and hard work—the chaotic scene makes the actual Iditarod in Alaska look tame by comparison. As the sleds, dragged by charg- ing Scouts, careen across the ice, one Scouter observes, “I can see why they need helmets.” The enthusiasm is both palpable and con-

tagious. Over at the ice wall, Scouts are already crawling, with varying degrees of success, up the slippery face.

INSTRUCTORS AND GUIDES who are boring and blasé? Not here. Dana Evert, assis- tant Scoutmaster of Troop 280 in Parker, fits

Not everyone can try ice climbing at this year’s Pioneer Trails District Winter Klonderee; demand for the “head- liner” attraction far exceeds supply. But with hockey, ice fishing, tomahawk throwing, curling, hiking, and camping on the agenda, Scouts who don’t get to climb still have a blast. For proof, check out the Iditarod-style sled race (above left), where Scouts—not dogs—pull teammates across the frozen lake. Back at the ice wall, climbing director Bill Houghgon (right, at right) teaches Troop 365 Scoutmaster Sean Iverson the finer points of using an ice axe. No further instruction needed for Troop 261’s Alex Ruhl, though. He makes it up the face with relative ease.

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