“Don’t let your degree get in the way of your education” …

The MOC House!

The MOC House!

Hidden McGill gems, part 2: after cooking with the Midnight Kitchen a few weeks ago and reporting about it on this blog, I want to bring up another great group on campus: the McGill Outdoors Club (MOC). As its name suggests, the Outdoors Club is an all-purpose sports/travel/adventure club which serves as a hub for outdoor activities of all kinds. What’s not to love?

And yet, having known of the MOC for two years, I had, until recently, never done anything with it. Not, mind you, for lack of opportunities: their mailing list, which I’ve been on since I’m at McGill, witnesses emails every day from people proposing trips and offering shared rides for anything from skiing at Mont Tremblant to trekking in up-state New York (or just building snowmen on McGill’s lower fields). I was even an MOC member last year, but no – no trip, no outdoors, no adventure; it was always for “next time”, when I would have fewer things on. But not this time! After one and a half years at McGill, it was time to stop “letting my degree getting into the way of my education” – the MOC’s motto, incidentally. And – *spoiler* – it was fantastic.

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Getting on ice with the MOC

This weekend I scaled a 40-meter wall of ice with 8 knives attached to each foot and an ice axe in each hand, got smashed in the face by a brick of ice in -20C weather, and loved every second of it.

Climbers! Photo: Dana Dragomir

I was one of 22 wonderful participants to go on the McGill Outdoor Club’s intro to ice climbing trip. For McGill students who are at all outdoorsly inclined (I don’t care if that’s not a word – I just added it to spellcheck so bam!), the MOC is seriously worth looking into.

The club (whose website is here) is one of Canada’s oldest and most respected student-run outdoors groups, and they host events almost every weekend ranging from hiking, camping and canoeing to rock climbing and basically any other outdoors pursuit you can imagine.

On this trip, known affectionately as ‘ice-school’ by the veteran MOC members, a small group of students have their first crack at a sport that basically involves attaching lethal weapons to every limb and chipping your way up a frozen waterfall.

On Friday night we headed to the MOC house in Prevost, Quebec. Although it’s only 45 minutes away from downtown Montreal, the clubhouse has all the makings of a classic naturephile’s getaway: a big fireplace, loads of bunk beds, and proximity to lakes, hiking, snowshoeing and skiing trails, and of course, icy cliffs. (more…)

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