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Sandstone Ice Festival

Updated: 12/25/2013 10:39 PM
Created: 12/24/2013 7:54 PM WDIO.com
By: Laura Kennedy
lkennedy@wdio.com

Rock climbing is a challenge for even the most seasoned athletes. But what happens when you cover those cliffs in ice, and turn out the lights?

At the Sandstone Ice Festival, climbers say sometimes the best time to tackle the frosty formations is at night in the bitter cold.

"Your hands are numb, your toes are numb, your face is numb but it's exciting," said Chad Heron. "There's not too many places that you can do this kind of stuff."

Heron has been ice climbing for about five years and says the frigid weather can have a bonding effect.

"It's fun to get outside with friends and meet people that are interested in the outdoors and kind of suffer together," Heron said.

Climbers had neon rope lights frozen behind the ice to guide their way, but Sam Guldan says climbers experience a sort of sensory deprivation.

"All you can see when you're on the wall is the wall," Guldan said. "Everything else is kind of black, so you can really focus in on what you're doing and just be kind of more in the moment."

James Roddewig thinks the dark can sometimes curb a climber's fear.

"It is a different experience. you're not aware so much of what's underneath you," Roddewig said. "Some people climb better that way because they don't know how high off the ground they are."

Day or night, rocks or ice, the end goal is the same.

"You're trying to get up to the top of something that's nearly vertical," Roddewig said. "There's almost something spiritual to it."

And if you're brave enough to try, you might just get hooked.

"Sometimes people look at you like you're crazy but it's one of those things that once you get out and try it, you realize it's not crazy at all," Guldan said. "It's fun."

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