continued Deep roots in the woods
It was Ryan Wichens’ father, Chuck, who introduced the two to hiking.
“I started taking them geo-caching when Ryan was thirteen,” said Chuck Wichens. “It was an instant love for both of them and they took off running.”
Lisa Wichens, Ryan’s mother, also finds her son’s ever-escalating outdoor challenges to be a challenge for her, as well.
“It makes me nervous, but I know it’s what he loves to do. I hold my breath and wait for them to come back. … “If I was in the mountains, there is no one else I would like to be with. There is no one more experienced that I know of,” she said.
Once they got a taste of the outdoors, Wichens and Messercola dug in with vigor. Their first goal was to climb Mount Marcy, the state’s highest peak, and they trained by climbing in the High Peaks.
“It became an addiction,” Messercola said. “Our goal was to get to the top.”
The two quickly became interested in ice climbing as well as mountaineering. They enlisted the help of Jay Harrison, a skilled ice climber and founder of Adirondack Adventure Club.
“They wanted to understand the technical aspects of ice climbing,” said Harrison. “I took them up Cascade Falls, one of the 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks.”
The casual way Harrison described the climb up the frozen falls is a reflection of the boys’ attitude towards hiking and mountaineering.
“It’s not about the summit, it’s the experience getting there,” said Wichens. ”Sometimes we have to turn around. It’s extremely important to have the ability to say OK, that’s enough.”
Ryan Wichens and Gabe Messercola shared their adventures during a recent fundraising dinner for Adirondack Traverse 2013 held at Stillwater United Church on Saturday, Jan. 19. For more information on their trip and cause or to make a donation, visit adirondacktraverse.org.