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This climbing season has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot smile fondly upon what was once was. In this stellar series of four trips, we had big, mostly two-van excursions that led to a historical amount of WilSkillers sending their first climbs or crushing PRs. Cuddle up with a cold Ale8 and uncooked Ramen (smothered in PB and/or honey) as we review the most top shelf-trip book entries and pictures. -Mabrahammer
High points: -Showing outdoor climbing to a lot of folks for the first time, a beautiful 5.10a crimpfest to finish up Saturday, onsighting the drive out of the PMRP, watching Sazzy B shred her third outdoor lead
Low points: -“What is LNT?” –Mark, Sunday. 1pm. [explicative]; olive oil? Eh, who needs it?
I’ve said it before, but this is my favorite place in the world. <3 -dyl
[still recovering from stoke, unable to write]
Although waking up each morning was difficult, you lovely people made it worth it. Everyone killed it this weekend and I’m so proud. Two beautiful days in amazing places with great people made this trip one to remember. -Scarano (Skeezy-P)
First time climbing outdoors ever + I had the BEST time. Shout out to everyone for bearing with me as a I learned how to belay, how to crack climb jargon, and a whole slew of other first. The beautiful views from the top and getting to know the AMAZING instructors + other students in this trip were totally worth waking to dogs wanting to play fetch and the fact that I won’t be able to use my arms for the next week. Morale is so high right now. <3Natalie H.
Good poops. -Zephyr (Diplo)
Frone Weihnachten (Merry X-mas), guys – it seems like Christmas has taken over Halloween and Santa himself came on the WilSkills climbing trip with us. He did a hell of a job leading the climbs—of course he did, he is in quite good shape from all the chimney climbing he does over winder break. for some reason though his heart is longing for another type of sport as one night he dreamt about baseball and apparently felt the urgent need to share this with all of us by sleeptalking. We also had a bunch of illegal immigrants sifting around the the campfire together with random pieces of furniture that eventually turned into some silly college students playing psychiatrist. We experience a great mix of German and American childhood by baking bread and smores on stickes over the fire. We found out that the best guacamole is made by at least three people who are swaying in a hammock while making it. I had a great time, best WilSkills trip and definitely not my last. -Alina
Climbing season is well under way—the leaves are beginning to turn and the flannels are starting to appear—but let’s not forget about our warmer days spent resisting the urge to grab the gunwales on Blackberry Falls, Lesser Wesser, etc. In order to aid your nostalgic reminiscing of paddling season, the highlights of the journal entries and Facebook photos are below.
“Apple pie without some cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze.” –Peter
“Just this trip has helped me cross things off my bucket list, and I hope that stays the same for more trips to come.” –Amy
“This is the trip where I jumped off a bridge to avoid an oncoming train.” –Sam
“I had so much fun on this trip! First of all, I can’t believe the streaking actually happened, so proud to be in the green van streaking van. Also Sully showed by how to make a flame thrower out of a lighter which is one of the most badass/useful skills ever. Loved every single person on this trip. Couldn’t have asked for a better weekend!” –Carson
“First WilSkills trip. We killed it. Like it was almost dead. And then it was dead. I like to think we had a hand in treeing that black bear. Shout-out to Dylan & Alex for being swagtastic paddling partners & helping me escape swimming all weekend. I learned to put Sriracha on everything, bitches. Swag. Go WilSkills. I like rapids.” –Caroline
“Swag Swag Swag Swag Swag
Swag Swag Swag Swag Swag Swag Swag
Swag Swag Swag Swag Swag” –Isabel
[too much swag in van, not enough room for a camera]
“Where the [explicative] was the Hummus? Also, it rained, and the Hiwassee is a [explicative] river. Nevertheless, it was an awesome trip, made all the better by such an awesome group of people. Ran Blackberry perfectly thanks to Omkar! And cous cous for breakfast was a great idea. All in all it turns out you don’t need [illicit substances], hummus, or good weather to have a good time when you’re with great people.” –Tristan
“Definitely improved my paddling skill on the Hiwassee. Bedtime game in sleeping bags and paddling in the rain are both awesome memories. Swollen ankle is not fun but it’s not that hard when there are a group of amazing people around!” –Delia
As we ushered in our new instructors Tim Watkins, Savannah Brackman, Matthew Abraham, and Kate Norskog, we welcomed back the old for Alumni Paddling 2013. Though the weather gods were seemingly opposed to our efforts, 40 members of Wilskills (both new and old) could be found camping on the banks of Clear Creek, paddling upon her rapids, and ascending the surrounding rock on this festive Cinco de Mayo weekend.
Though we’ve taken off our harnesses and thrown on our PFDs, this climbing season will not be forgotten. Our experiences fighting gravity live on in our memories, in photos, and of course, in the Wilskills Tripbook.
Some entries are heartwarming, some poetic, and some downright bewildering.
Climbing 1 – Sand Rock, AL
“My last climbing trip I ended up with a sprained ankle, but I was rockin’ and rollin’ for another go at climbing! I really tested my limits and felt like I really improved my skills – I climbed my first 5.8! Company was spectacular, and Blake, Scarano, Dylan and Haley were kickass instructors. Highlights- Sleepovers with my G Caitlin in the ridgeline, the 4 matts, prancing Haley, Lupi’s pizzzzzza, “Home is wherever I’m with you”, ALMOST getting kicked out of Walmart, K-Dyl-Tru, “Lucy!Luuuuuucy!”, and bonding around the campfire. I love everybody! Wilskills Forever”
“This is my first Wilskills trip and first time climbing, and it was a great experience. I’m glad to have joined Wilskills and I’ve found the group to be really accepting. I made a lot of new friends, and I regret not joining until so late in my Vandy career. These are some of the coolest people I’ve met in college so far – thanks for a great trip!”
“At six in the morning, I’m funky,
At seven in the morning, I’m funky,
At eight in the morning, I’m funky,
I’m the funkiest man alive”.
Climbing 2 – Jackson Falls, IL
“My first trip this semester went to the same place as my first trip last semester, and it was awesome. Climbing outside again was really great, especially now that I know what I’m supposed to be doing. People on the trip were amazing, as usual, and I made some great new friends . Also, this trip has thoroughly reminded me of how sweaty, sore, and satisfied these trips can make you.”
“If Ryan and Kelly hadn’t pushed me into this trip last minute, I wouldn’t have led a bunch of climbs for the first time, seen the Slender Moon, or danced in a gas station. Good call, guys”
Climbing 3 – Red River Gorge, KY
Lots of climbing,
With massage trains,
Thank the lord it didn’t rain!
A wonderful weekend with Climbing 3,
A memoir is left – a nicely bruised knee!”
“My first Wilskills trip… My first time climbing… my first Real outdoor experience! This weekend was a weekend of many firsts, and it was absolutely wonderful. There were many times I was ready to stop and come down – it was scary, my arms were shaking. There was a constant fear of falling, but everyone was so supportive and encouraging, pushing me to pull through. I don’t think I would have made it if it weren’t for them. Climbing definitely is a rewarding experience – when you reach the top, you feel like you’re on top of the world! But the people? Pretty awesome. Thank you!! I can’t wait for the next trip.”
Climbing 4 – Sand Rock, AL
“It wasn’t until my last Wilskills climbing trip (after 4 years!) that I discovered Sand Rock.
-”Caving” in the crack systems
-Hanging out on top of the boulders
-Night time hangouts on top of the pinnacle (after climbing up there)
“If I could describe this trip in one word it would be LOVE! This was my favorite trip thus far. The weather could not have been better, and the company was great. White van = Party Van!! Bunny Rave and Bunny Ear send! This was the perfect way to kickoff springtime – laying in the hammocks next to the fire, playing games, and getting to know old and new friends was a perfect way to spend my Saturday. So happy and grateful for Wilskills <3″
“My dearest Wilskills,
I can’t believe I’ve lived in Alabama my whole life and never been to Sand Rock. I had SO much fun on my third climbing trip. Highlight was definitely caving though. Anyways, yeah. Cool stuff.
As we put away our backpacks, lets take a moment to remember all the Type 1, Type 2 and that one bit of Type 3 fun that we had
Backpacking 3 - Big Frog Wilderness
Fending off exposure sickness and the malevolent Slender-Hog
Backpacking 2 - Joyce Kilmer Wilderness Area
Moonset Kingdom/Understanding Sun Worship
Backpacking 1 - Savage Gulch
Our info sessions will be on Monday Jan. 14 and Tuesday Jan. 15 from 7-8pm in Garland 101.
Our first lecture will be Wednesday Jan. 16 — same time, same place.
Check out what we’re ABOUT for more information and feel free to contact any of our wonderful INSTRUCTORS if you have any questions! And check out our old posts (see the sidebar to the right) to read about our adventures last semester!
Hope to see you soon! =)
We finished off the semester with 4 wonderful backpacking trips!
Backpacking II went to Big Frog Wilderness Area where they experienced good food, a great sunset, good fog, and good modeling…
Backpacking III bushwacked through the Joyce Kilmer Wilderness Area in search of scenic views and bears…
Backpacking IV wrapped up the semester at Frozen Head State Park by making it to the top of the mountain and frolicking in the wilderness before finals!
I don’t think anyone can argue that Fall 2012 wasn’t a FREAKING AWESOME WilSkills semester! Thanks to all of our students and instructors for making it wonderbul! Love you all and hope to see you next year =)
In celebration of All Hallow’s Eve, WilSkills carved some festive pumpkins and dressed up for the crowd-pleasing “Hypothermia” lecture!
Pre-Halloween week, we got together, carved pumpkins, and even made some home-roasted pumpkin seeds!
This week’s lecture, which happened to be on Halloween featured brave souls willing to dress up for class as well as a brilliant performance by our very own Matt Rabon, who courageously opted to be the guinea-pig for the how-to-treat-hypothermia portion of lecture.
One of the really cool things about WilSkills is the fact that WilSkills lectures are taught by your fellow Vanderbilt peers, students like yourselves who went through the course, became instructors, and now teach it. We’ve learned how to paddle, climb, and backpack as well as about Leave No Trace, the 10 essentials, and Conservation. However, each semester, there are also a few special lectures given by Vanderbilt professors, local experts, and sometimes even WilSkills alumni.
This week we welcomed Dr. Dan Morgan, a professor in the Earth and Environmental Sciences department at Vanderbilt, to speak to us about the geological history of TN and his field world in Antarctica. He showed us a cool (and musically dramatic) YouTube video about Earth’s history in the last 600 million years and went over how the land was formed over time in some of the areas we frequent today such as the Cumberland Plateau (Backpacking 1 is going there this weekend!) as well as Foster Falls, the Appalachians, and more.