By Madison St. George and Noah St. George, Grade 9 and 7 at WISS
While many of us head to sunny shores and beaches of the South in the winter, the WISS Rock Climbing Club led by PE Teacher Magnus Holmstrom, went the opposite direction, North to the cold to experience Ice Climbing-climbing a frozen waterfall near Beijing. Students and Risk Takers Madison (Grade 9) and Noah St. George (Grade 7) give their reflection of their frigid yet exhilarating experience.
What 5 words would you use to describe the trip?
Madison: Amazing, Exciting, Fun, Cold, and Werewolf (A game).
Noah: Icy, Frigid, Fun, Exciting and Challenging.
Please describe what interested you to join this trip? Do you have past climbing experience?
Madison: I was interested in joining the trip, because I am in the rock-climbing club, but had never been on a rock climbing trip before. Ice climbing seemed like it would be an exciting and fun experience. I was told by my parents that I could only attend on one of the three rock climbing trips that are being offered this year. Out of the three options, I was most interested in the ice climbing trip, because it was the only trip in which you would be given the opportunity to climb a frozen waterfall. I had climbed rock before, but never ice. I felt that this could be a once in lifetime experience. I love adventure and trying new things, so you can only imagine how the thought of being able to climb with crampons and ice axes sparked my interests. I chose the ice climbing trip and do not regret it one bit, as I had the time of my life. I feel extremely lucky and grateful to have been given the opportunity to participate in something that many people will only ever dream of.
Noah: I really wanted to try something new and I had never Ice climbed before. I thought ice climbing would be fun and exciting. I do have Rock Climbing experience. I am part of the Rock Climbing Club at WISS that meets every Tuesday. I have been climbing for nearly 2 years in Shanghai. Additionally, I climbed outdoors last year on the family rock climbing trip.
Please describe the climbing activities-how did you prepare, describe the location and what did you do?
Madison: We traveled by train to Beijing, which is where we ice climbed. Out of the four days of the ice climbing trip, we spent two days ice climbing on the ice walls created by waterfalls in the park located in the Baihe area of Beijing. Ice climbing requires quite a lot of equipment: ropes, ice screws, helmets, harnesses, belay devices, carabineers, ice axes, crampons, etc. Before we were allowed to climb, we received several safety briefs and demonstrations on how to properly use the gear ensuring that we would not hurt ourselves or be unsafe during the climb. We wore helmets, harnesses, crampons (shoes with spikes used in ice climbing) and held ice axes in our hands. We learned how to make ice anchors with ice screws and rope; however, we only climbed on anchors created by Ola, a professional ice climber, for safety purposes. We also trekked on a remote section of the Great Wall for which we did not require any additional equipment. Dressing warmly was our only preparation as temperatures during the entire trip hovered around -14°C.
Noah: The climbing was in the Baihe area of Beijing. We traveled to Beijing on a train and after we arrived at the train station, we took a one and a half hour bus ride to the hotel which was near the climbing area. Traveling to Beijing turned out to be quite the adventure. Our train was cancelled on the first day we tried to leave and then delayed for over 5 hours the second time we tried to leave. We ended up arriving very, very late. The next morning, we had breakfast, collected our gear, attended a “safety and technique” briefing, and were off. We had an actual ice climbing activity on the first day, a trekking activity on a remote area of the Great Wall on the second day, and a then a grade 4 ice climbing activity (vertical with slight overhang) on the third and final day. All of the activities were amazing. We then we hopped on the train to head back to Shanghai.
Please describe your feelings as before, during and after the climb
Madison: Before the climb, I was quite excited and slightly nervous as I had not ice climbed before. During the climb, I was not nervous anymore like I was before the climb, I was having an absolute blast. After climbing for a while, your arms start to ache and it becomes difficult to grip the ice axes which makes it much harder and more stressful whilst climbing. Also, it can be a little nerve racking when the ice breaks when you are climbing, but you know you cannot fall more than a couple of feet because you are safely in a harness on belay with a professional climber on the other end. After the climb my arms were tired, but I still wanted climb again. I would say that the ice climbing trip was an all-around exciting and enjoyable experience.
Noah: Before the trip I was super excited to climb and trek with everyone. Also, I was very eager to try something new. During the trip I was happy to be participating in a lot of fun activities but they were very tiring. Because I was thrilled to be climbing, trekking, whatever we were doing, I was able to push through the exhaustion. After, I missed being in Beijing because ice climbing was so much fun and challenging, but I sure was glad be back home in my own bed. I slept for 15 hours once I returned home.
Which of the IB Learner Profile do you feel that you experienced while on the trip?
Madison: I think that I experienced the IB Learner Profile of Risk Taker during the trip. I had an open mind about trying something new and I took a risk when I decided to accept the challenge of performing this very physical task without previous ice climbing experience. I am so happy I did.
Noah: I think that the IB Profile I most exhibited is RiskTaker. Why do I think I was a Risk-Taker? Because I willingly accepted a new challenge. I used strategies shared by Ola, the climbing leader, and worked hard to succeed at something I was unfamiliar with.