Kate Bartell, Wittenberg University
When my professor first told me about JIRP, I didn’t quite have a picture in my mind of what it could be. After looking at the website a few hundred times, I could determine that it would be a “cool” experience and even something interesting to tell loved ones about afterwards. You don’t quite get the actual picture of what exactly JIRP is until you get to experience it all first hand.
I may have been told what climbing a mountain may be like, for instance, “challenging”, requires “lots of physical effort”, or even that “you don’t have to be an Olympian to climb it”. That all may be true, but facing it with your own sweat and your almost-tears truly changes everything.
I may have been told what living at a camp would be like, but until you get your twenty roommates, your layer of grime (that doesn’t even seem to come off in a snow bath), and the beautiful view that will probably be covered up with clouds half the time, you have no idea.
I may have been told what eating on the Icefield is like, with the canned foods and the SPAM. But until you actually experience what SPAM really means to JIRPers, you have no idea.
So now, when I look to what being a part of JIRP means to me, I see a lot of hard work, sweat, and more “almost-tears” in my future. I see waking up at 7 ‘o’clock by a knock or yell at the door and getting ready for the day in clothes I’ve already worn for the last four days. I see a lecture straight after breakfast, followed by six hours of ski and risk management practice, and then followed by two more lectures. What I see in JIRP now is an opportunity to challenge my body, learn, and make connections with people sharing the same experience as me. Because, at the end of the day, I will have the opportunity to learn from the professors who volunteer their time here, from the staff who use their experience to guide me, from my colleagues who come from different backgrounds, and from the cold and slightly unforgiving Icefield we will eventually cross. I am looking forward to the rest of this journey with my eyes a little wider, my fears a little smaller, and my stomach a lot more full with SPAM.