Eleven straight days working 12-14 hours each day at the studio and those big o’l mesquite logs have transformed. Almost complete, they are standing under the temporary hoist system drying. Hand hewn chisel marks under umpteen layers of my own concoction of mixed stains – inlayed turquoise and swarovski crystals complete the sculptures. My paws are sore, my neck is creaky and my fingernails are darkly stained. I left the studio yesterday completely fried and hungry for some air.
Today I got up before dawn to join two girlfriends. We threw our packs in the back of the truck and rolled over icy roads up the narrow canyon to what JoJo has dubbed “The Hyalite House” for the annual women’s clinic at the Bozeman Ice Climbing Festival. Since I fell in love with ice climbing at the festival years ago, I have returned each year as a volunteer eager to share my love of ice with others. Falling in love with ice climbing was easy; finding boots to fit my little feet in a sport dominated by men was the tough part. A year or two after ice climbing entered my life, my friend Supy began an ice climbing clinic just for women despite the fact that many of the local guides and retailers doubted a female audience existed for such a clinic. The turnout of curious brave women willing to push their limits to try something new within a supportive environment was overwhelming. The women’s clinic quickly grew to the largest on-ice-clinic for women in the world. Always sold out, more than 60 women come from all over to paricipate in the one-day clinic taught by some of the best female ice climbers in the world.
I volunteer each year to carry ropes, belay, and help coach the eager group of women. All ages and a variety of backgrounds make up the all female mob. Many of the women aren’t rock climbers or climbers at all. Some have never even tried a winter sport. What joy it is to watch gal after gal transform! Belief, compassion, patience, humor, and a few good tips can make all the difference. Intimidated by the ice, psyched about the “bad ass” feel of an ice ax in their hand, brightened by their accomplishment – what the women take away from this day of camaraderie is a big dose of self confidence, sore muscles, and HUGE grins.
Today was a treat. Crisp air, fresh snow, sculptural ice and the transformation that comes through empowerment make the volunteer day more-than-worthwhile. The sculptures are drying. Tomorrow I will pack up the studio. But tonight I imagine more than one gal is dreaming a few new dreams and perhaps tomorrow many women will awaken with a broadened belief in what is possible.