Ice Climbing Is Making Winter Fun Again

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Bucket List Worthy  

A male ice clmber tackles some steep ice in Johnstone Canyon, Banff National Park, AB
A male ice climber tackles steep ice in Johnstone Canyon, Banff National Park, AB -Photo credit by Ryan

Ice climbing! For most, the thought of ice climbing conjures thoughts of an exotic adventure on a medium that seems impossible to navigate. And that’s about right. Except ice climbing is an adventure that just about anybody can and should enjoy, and many people are missing out.

Ice forms as beautiful aqua flows, with pillars, icicles and all sorts of strange chandelier like formations that fascinate the eye. Unlike rock climbing, there are no specific hand and foot holds one must use, rather a blank canvas where one easily swings an ice axe and kicks in a crampon.

Why Try Ice Climbing?

The feeling is one of not just fun, but satisfaction too. There’s something cool about actually climbing on ice, about swinging an ice axe into that ice with a solid thunk, about the surprising grip one feels while climbing up this glistening substance. Beginner ice is lower angle ice, which anyone with regular fitness can easily climb. There is also vertical, thin and even overhanging ice that can, on the contrary, provide a challenge for even the most seasoned ice climber. There are ice climbs for every ability level.

Furthermore, there is the advent of mixed climbing, whereby one uses the ice axes and crampons on the rock portion of mixed routes. Mixed routes are climbs that feature both ice and rock formations. Picture a flow of ice that does not completely cover a rock face from top to bottom. This form of climbing is undeniably fun and can also be enjoyed by every level of climber. It’s common to climb both ice and mixed climbs on the same day.

Ice Climbing in Canada

It can be said that ice climbing is indeed an adventure like no other, one is sure to be completely fascinated. A memorable experience that is fun, exciting, exotic and a truly Canadian adventure.

Canada and the Canadian Rockies is uncontested in its title as the world’s top ice climbing destination. Not surprising when one considers we have over 1000 easily accessed ice and mixed routes in well over 30,000 square kilometers of terrain. Not to mention a season that extends for 8 months of the year with higher elevation alpine routes. As such, climbing in the Rockies is the “to do” adventure the whole family can enjoy. The area around Banff happens to be a haven for ice climbing areas that are incredibly scenic, have a short approach and are perfect for an ice climbing experience.

The fine guides at Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures, highly qualified and unrivaled in their expertise, provide an amazing ice climbing experience accessible to all. All the equipment is provided and guests need only to show up in winter clothing ready for a great adventure.

And Beyond

Ice climbing isn’t just reserved for Canadians and those who venture to the Great White North to pursue their passion. Colorado, specifically the Ouray Ice Park in Ouray, Colo., is known for offering hundreds of named, and world-famous, ice and mixed climbs. The frozen waterfalls of Rjukan, Norway, and the renowned Swiss Alps, which can be explored with the experts at Swiss Alpine Guides, also reign as some of the top places in the world for those is search of treacherous mountainsides and frigid waterfalls.

Winter travel doesn’t always have to be to warm-weather destinations, and ice climbers prove that some of winter’s greatest adventures can be enjoyed in the coldest months.

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About the Author: Eric

Eric is a certified IFMGA/ACMG Mountain Guide, CAA Level II & Professional Member as well as CSIA Level II. Eric brings high enthusiasm, a lifetime of mountain passion and a great depth and breadth of experience and expertise to Mountain Skills Academy & Adventures, for whom he is also the chief guide.

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