By Doug Millen
Twelve years ago I started NEice, driven by my love for ice climbing and frustrated by the lack of coverage given to the East Coast. Rarely did I see a photo of ice climbs in the Northeast on the web or in climbing magazines. I longed to share information with others. Yet, at that time there was only a single web page posting conditions for Northeast ice climbing which focused on text and updated once a week. When asked by other climbers, I gave an impossibly long and difficult-to-remember address. I was among a handful of climbers reporting weekly which was initially satisfying, but I soon felt more could and should be done.
As time passed, I felt the need to provide a better service for ice climbers in the area. The site name should be easy to remember and cover the entire Northeast, not just New England. It should be a place where photos of ice climbs and climbers could be posted; where climbers could get together and exchange conditions, stories and information; a virtual club house for ice climbers. Because nothing describes an ice climb better than a photo, photos would be the core of the site. In 1999, with the support of a few close friends, I registered the domain name www.NEice.com. NEice was born.
During the next few years the growing pains were intense as the number of viewers grew. I struggled with web page design, and it was a challenge to find the time required to update the site and provide the condition photographs which were so in demand. Because I had a full-time contracting business to run, I spent many nights by the computer and drove hundreds of miles each weekend to get the needed photos. The friends I had assembled to help me soon became frustrated as the technical demands of the site outgrew their expertise and personal time became more important. With only a promise of what might lay ahead to encourage others, I soon found myself working alone and tweaking the site well past midnight on most days and heading to a new location each weekend in hopes of taking great photos and spreading the word of North East Ice.
And then there was the investment of money. Initially, it cost me an affordable $25/month to host the site. Until one month, I received a bill for $255. Certain it must be wrong, I called the service provider. The site had exceeded the bandwidth quota. Knowing I could not afford hundreds of dollars each month and NEice would only continue to grow, Uwe Schneider of Alpine Web Design came to the rescue with a virtual server and no bandwidth fees. After a steep learning curve, I enjoyed the power of the server. Last year NEice had more than 362,000 visitors who generated over 12 million hits. However, with this continued growth, the costs again grew to $180/month. The chat board at that time was a simple board included with Microsoft FrontPage. It worked for awhile, but soon was strained under the load as it became difficult to moderate and control. Since it was fast becoming the heart of the site, I went in search of and found an industrial strength bulletin board which could handle the demands of the site. After spending $375 and configuring the board, most of the technical challenges of the site had been conquered.
To date I have invested many hundreds of hours of my personal time with no compensation. It’s not about the money. It’s about making the NEice the best it can be. My reward has been the notes and thanks I receive from the thousands of viewers who tune in each week. 3 winters ago, a personal “summit” was achieved when I typed “ice climbing” in the Google search engine and NEice came in: #1 site- beating out climbing, rock & ice, and many other sites on ice climbing.
Today NEice has grown to be the #1 resource for ice climbers in the northeast. The moneys it receives from donations, sponsors and ads continue to fund the site and allow it to grow.
This site is about community. It is about ice climbers helping each other for a common good. It’s about sharing your knowledge with others. NEice is an ice climber’s web site run by ice climbers. Be part of the community, contribute to NEice TODAY!
NEice is looking for the following to help with the site:
Sponsors to help fund the site
Contribution of condition reports, photos, articles, and news.
Moderators to help with the chat boards.
Editors to help with content.
Web professionals to help with the ever growing demands of the site.
Anyone interested in helping please email firstname.lastname@example.org