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Hands, safety gear, and shoes may be all you need for regular rock climbing, but add ice to the mix, and proper equipment becomes a top priority. That’s why Troop 280 Assistant Scoutmaster Dana Evert (in the camo jacket at right) makes sure his Scouts properly prepare their boots and crampons for the climb. In addition to the requisite helmet, harness, and ropes that all climbers need, ice climb- ers use spiked boot attachments called crampons to dig their feet into the wall and propel themselves upward. Instead of finding handholds, climbers hold ice axes, swinging the lightweight picks into the wall to get a grip during ascent.

“Break,” he says. And after a brief rest, his shoulders straighten. Reaching out, he drives one ice axe into the wall. His father breathes again. “Looking good, Quinn!” Quinn pushes up, a slow kick to the

ice, and up again, and then reaches the top. “Now I’m done.” Back on the ground, Quinn explains what made him try again. “The break gave me more power,” he says. The encourage- ment from his dad, helped too. Speaking of his dad, Todd makes it to the

top, but halfway up the wall his shoulders slump, too. “It’s a lot harder than it looks,” Ekker says. “Come on, Dad!” Quinn yells. “Good job!” Who knows from where Todd draws his

strength, but he kicks hard at the wall, and the strikes of his ice axe echo with author- ity. With a series of hearty grunts, he climbs to the top of the wall. When he reaches the finish line, his son gives him the best reward a dad could want. “Wooooo! Yea! That was awesome!” Quinn shouts. Todd wears a 13-year-old’s smile when his feet touch the ground.

AWAY FROM THE ICE WALL, Scouts and Scouters enjoy other winter events. Competitive games of ice hockey on the frozen lake feature Scouts swatting madly at a wayward puck with brooms. And near the

28 S COUTING ¿ January•February 2012

curling area, boys pull glistening brown and rainbow trout from holes in the ice. Over at the hatchet-throwing arena,

Evan Buckwalter, the Pioneer Trails District camping chairman overseeing the klond- eree, explains the 10-step rule during a quick break. A Scoutmaster since 1971 and an avid climber (he summitted the last of Colorado’s 54 14,000-foot peaks on his 54th birthday), Buckwalter has ushered several-hundred Scouts up to various summits. So he knows something about helping Scouts reach the top of, say, an ice wall. He doesn’t know how many Scouts have

reached their goals with his help, but the ones he remembers most are those who needed someone to walk with them, step by step. That’s where his 10-step rule comes in:

Take 10 steps, then rest for 10 breaths, and take 10 more. Says Buckwalter: “You can get any young man to the top of the mountain if you try hard enough.” ¿

Magazine journalist KEN MCALPINE also has authored Off Season: Discovering America on Winter’s Shore and Islands Apart: A Year on the Edge of Civilization.

Register your Scouts or Venturers for a beginner-friendly ice climbing course, and learn more about this cool winter sport at

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