The boys departed the Foxhole at 5:45 AM on Thursday morning. Despite an early start, the guys were in a great mood and visibly excited for the day to come. The group met the ice climbing guides at the rendezvous point and were outfitted with harnesses, crampons, and helmets. Everyone was eager to climb as the group set out for trailhead.
The approach to the climbs was only twenty minutes long, but it provided the perfect opportunity to practice walking effectively in the crampons. The 50 foot frozen waterfalls were both stunning and humbling. The guides took the group through an informative safety briefing and skills tutorial about climbing and belaying.
After six hours of climbing each of the four routes, belaying and hanging out by the frozen crag, the group packed up the gear and descended back down the trail to the parking lot. At this point, everyone seemed physically and mentally exhausted in a really satisfying way. There was a sense of group accomplishment and comradery.
The lodge had a very homey feel and after the boys showed up and settled in with warm drinks, dinner was served. Post dinner, the group collaborated to clean the space and we soon settled down to have an AA meeting.
A few themes emerged from the discussion. Many shared their experience of loneliness in using and how they are now grateful for the sense of community found in AA and the Foxhole. Others shared in their appreciation of newfound hobbies in sobriety. Collectively, the space seemed vulnerable and supportive. After the meeting, everyone retired early to bed in preparation for another day of climbing on ice.
By day two, the guys were much more comfortable walking in the crampons and the guides set up a few more challenging routes. A completely vertical pillar of ice provided the more adept climbers the challenge they were looking for.
Overall, the trip reiterated the belief that it is possible to have fun while being sober and it provided a strong sense of comradery and bonding between a diverse group of guys from the community.