poster on the college bulletin board shouted "Outward Bound - These
be the hardest, most wonderful days of your life!" Overstatement? Maybe
not, and, as I was to find out, definitely not.
were 21 days of rain, snow, loneliness, fatigue, blisters, fear,
friendship, camaraderie, challenges, achievement and fulfillment.
were Colorado Outward Bound, August, 1976. Myself and 11 other college
age kids spent three weeks in the Colorado Rockies, learning first aid,
rope handling, rock climbing, orienteering and rappelling.
had an instructor to teach us all of these things. His name was Steve
He was from NYC, and he had a Ph.D. in archeology. He was tough as
and quickly earned the nickname "ice ax".
is nothing silly, soft, or frivolous about an ice ax. It was part of
our basic issue of equipment, and we learned how it could be used to
for crevasses in mountain ice, halt a slide if a piton gave way, and
footholds for an ice wall ascent.
like the ice ax,was there to provide a safety net, and to impart to his
group the skills that would allow them to rappel backwards down a 100'
cliff, cover 5 miles of mountain trails per day, carrying a 40 lb.
pack, and climb the 3rd highest peak in Colorado.
were some memorable people on this trip. Abe Sanders, from NYU, a
student, nice guy, really bright. Dede Moore, blonde and pretty, a
student from California.
Andrea (Andy) Thach, senior at Brown, major Cubs fan. Sandra Shalment,
stewardess for Delta Airlines, a wonderful southern lady. John White,
Michigan, college phys. Ed. major, cheerful, always looking for fun.
Carlson, from Sioux City, expert marksman, who two years earlier
had almost died in amotorcycle accident, now he was reaching for goals
that lay beyond mere 'recovery'.
was this group, and six others, that started that first day, at 5:00
with a 2 mile run to a stream that was fed by mountain snowfields,
visible faraway in the early morning light. Into the stream, dive under
a log, swim out the other side, and then two more miles, running, back
to camp. There were members of the group that did not appreciate this
type of start to their day. By noon, some were ready to take the first
flight home, and pretend this never happened. There were blistered
aching backs, tendentious, breathing problems, and red shoulders where
the back packs weight rested. There were aches in muscles that no one
knew they had, until now. For most of the 3 weeks, we were in the
above 8,000' altitude. We spent a full week on snow fields, in the
ofAugust, learning glissading, ice climbing, and snow survival. One day
was spent setting up a base
camp,to prepare for the next day's challenge, the climb of 14,256' Mt.
Cargo, third highest in Colorado. We came within a snowball's throw of
the top, and the small metal cylinder where
can list your name, date of climb, weather conditions, etc. An
knife edge had to be crossed to reach the summit, and it was decided
risk was too great to proceed.
The 8 climbers were roped together, and the ice, wind and mist made
on a struggle, on top of already having been climbing for 6 hours. I
like to go back someday, and sign my name on that climber's log.
of the trip wasn't torture and misery. We were hiking in parts of
that the average person never saw. There were mountain
meadows filled with wild flowers, pristine mountain lakes and streams,
mountain tops with a 50 mile view, and a 100 year old silver mine that
is a local historic site. We hiked deep into an abandoned silver mine,
cooked meals over blazing campfires, and talked, laughed,
dreamed and shared stories until the fire was nothing but glowing
If you ever think you might want to try this kind of thing, I would
you to do it. They will indeed be "the hardest, most wonderful days of
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