January 14, 2008

full circle

The Ouray Ice Festival was a lot of fun. As always, it was another meaningful time spent with friends in a beautiful place. Despite the often hectic schedule of clinics, booth responsibilities, and parties, the OIF is just another one of those worthwhile experiences in my life. I'm waiting for my flight out of Grand Junction so I'm killing a bit of time, so here is a recap of the event.

My final clinic on Sunday at the Trestle area was an intermediate/advanced ice technique topic. To make a long story even longer I'll start from the beginning! While in Kalymnos, Heather and I met this wonderful lady from SLC named Karen. One night while talking, Karen and I ended up on the subject of the Ouray Ice Festival. Last year i was deeply moved by an aspect of festivals i had never seen before. During the evening events and slide shows, i noticed a woman signing for a few deaf individuals. This was really something special i thought and at one point i even wiped a few tears from my eyes. Well, come to find out the woman who was signing was Karen. Small world, eh? Karen and I talked about clinics for the 2008 Ouray event and i was really excited for an opportunity to help instruct her friends. I also found out during our conversations that one of the guys she helped during the 2007 event lost his life in an ice climbing accident sometime after the festival.

Karen and her two friends JJ and Darrel (who are both deaf) were able to sign up for my clinic on Sunday afternoon. I was really excited and nervous at the same time since i didn't know what to expect. Typically you can talk with the clinic participants while they are climbing to help them with certain aspects of their climbing. Not so with someone who can't hear! I could go on for pages about those afternoon hours and all of the great things that happened, but I'll just say it was one of the best clinics I've ever taught. It stretched my teaching and guiding experience, taking me to a new and great place in my heart and mind. Karen helped me communicate on the ground and both Darrel and JJ make it very comfortable for me to try my own methods of signing and communication. Our clinic also included Dustin and Keith who, like me, shared a really great experience. In the end, the six of us just went climbing, strengthened the deep meaning of partnerships, and just had a blast.

Earlier in the event i received what was said to be the largest clinic tip in the history of the Ouray Ice Festival, but it does not come even close to the value in seeing Darrel and JJ get to the top of our route at the Trestle....