Ice climbing is an activity that invites you to go deeper into the wild places where it’s just you, your gear, your climbing partner, and your own sense of adventure. Climbing calls to those who want to try something new, want to learn something, and just want to feel the cool breeze of the great outdoors while they look out over the world from a new perspective.

Experienced climber, Lorne Foisy is the first to acknowledge that ice climbing is one of those “bucket list” activities, the one many want to try someday but there’s a part of them that is a little uneasy at the thought of following through. Through his guiding company, Elements Guiding, Lorne introduces his students to the pleasures of climbing, safely and competently.

Here’s his tips for getting started in ice climbing (spoiler: it’s not just about getting to the top).

It’s Okay to Be Nervous

If you’ve ever looked at someone doing something that looks scary and thought to yourself, “I wish I wasn’t so afraid, then I could do that, too” we have news for you. Everyone is nervous or frightened when it comes to doing something that involves some personal risk.

And it’s okay to be afraid. According to Lorne, the good news is that if you can climb a ladder, you can climb an ice wall. It’s all just one step after another as you move higher and higher, and the joy you’ll feel once you push past the fear makes it all worth the effort.

“Being afraid is okay but it gives you this confidence to try and push through,” explained Lorne.

The Journey is Everything

If you’ve been dying to climb a rock or ice wall just so you can get to the top, check that expectation when you strap on the climbing harness. Climbing is all about the journey, the experience of pushing your body, feeling the wind at your back, the sun on your face, and the exhilaration of doing something that makes you feel uncomfortable but you do it anyway.

For Lorne, a big part of the journey is trekking through the wilderness and rounding a corner and finding the perfect wall of ice, just waiting for you. It’s about the journey as much as the achievement.

“It’s not about getting to the top,” Lorne said. “If it’s only going to be about finding the climb and getting to the top, maybe you’ll miss out.”

It’s a Confidence Builder

Lorne explained that he wasn’t always the most athletic of kids – he was smaller than his peers and had low self-esteem. It was climbing that helped him to gain that confidence, and his passion today is helping others, particularly children, to discover confidence by exceeding their own expectations.

Lorne’s favourite part of instructing is watching others overcome their own fear and do something that surprises them. “For me, being able to pass that on to people is amazing,” Lorne said.