On a cold January day when Vermont feels an awful lot like Siberia, a handful of Vermonters are in 7th heaven, embracing winter -- close to a hundred feet off the ground.
"I really learned it in Yosemite, when you're 3,000 feet off the ground eventually it just doesn't faze you anymore," said Bert Severin of Sunrise Sports.
But this ice is more than a winter playground. For many it's a challenge-- a place to overcome your fears.
"Yeah, an adrenaline rush, my hands, my arms were burning," said Jon Howard of Fletcher.
Which is why one of the first things one learns about the sport is that ice climbers are tough. And few are tougher than Bob Timmer.
"I ripped my ear off last year ice climbing but they stitched it back on and it's good to go!" Timmer noted.
For most of us ripping off an ear may be a big deal, but Timmer has bigger things to worry about. Timmer was diagnosed with a brain tumor 10 years ago and has double vision in his left eye.
"And I have a spinal cord tumor which is sort of like a stroke," he explained. "Everything on my left side is gone or going, been on chemo for five years."
Timmer continues to climb despite not being able to use his left leg. He pulls it up the ice using thanks to a special loop on his boot.
"It's pretty challenging," he said. "But everyone up there has to use tools of some kind and this just helps me develop the tools I need to climb."
After hearing Bob Timmer's story one can't help but be inspired, which is why I figured I'd give the sport a shot-- despite being absolutely terrified of heights.
After a rough start, I slowly worked my way up the ice one foot and one breath at a time.
"You definitely have to control your fear and just climb through it," Severin said. "Moving over vertical terrain is just amazing. It never gets old."
And after what seemed like an eternity I finally did make it-- the exhilaration hard to describe. A new perspective on a sport I initially thought you had to be crazy to try.
It's winter fun in a winter paradise with a group of people you can't help but be inspired by.
"I'm not gonna stop till they throw me out," Timmer promised.
More than 100 ice climbers are expected in Smuggler's Notch this weekend for the 4th annual ice bash. The event includes discounted lessons for beginners if you want to check it out. Click here for more information.
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