Since I can count the number of boutiques and little cafes that I like visiting in the Sault on just one hand and since farmers’ markets don’t start for another few months, I’ve had to look elsewhere for those authentic experiences that I hold so dear. When in Rome ––– or in this case at a spectacularly high elevation above Lake Superior ––– do as the Romans do.
Well not exactly… most people who I’ve talked to in the “Soo” thought I was absolutely crazy to strap on a pair of crampons, buckle up in a harness and hang off the side of a cliff and I think they are probably right. The stories that Shaun Parent the owner of Superior Explorations shared over breakfast were enough to make anyone who made it that far reconsider, but none of us did. I was the least experienced out of the bunch. Our guide Shaun has been climbing since he was 8, has travelled around the world mountaineering and is a geologist and ice specialist by trade. The two guys from Toronto have spent a lot of time rock climbing and had come up north to try something new. Sandra Shaun’s partner was a marathoner with terrific strength. In other words it only took her one try to get the pick in the ice. It took me and my chicken bones at least three thrusts to get the pick secured. I may have been the least experienced out of the bunch, but that didn’t stop me from having a grand old time.
The most nerve racking thing about the trip was knowing that due to the unusually warm temperatures the ice had started to melt. Shaun pointed out a gigantic sheet of ice that had fallen the previous day. This 800 lb. piece of solid water was unforgiving. It stood in the ground where we lay our day packs and supplies, a constant reminder of the overhanging danger.
City girl turned ice climber, turned… who knows what else in the coming months. Life is just one big discovery. Mind you discovering the mercy of nature is a little more exhilarating than discovering a new vendor at the Market Hall on a Saturday afternoon.