The 2016/17 winter has been an amazing season for ice climbing. Consistently cold temperatures lingered in December and early January, freezing many of the waterfall features in the Sea to Sky and opening up a few routes that had not seen the swing of an axe in quite a few years. For MSAA, this has meant many more ice climbing trips going out at all levels, from kids and families safely trying it out on top rope belay to clients looking to achieve their own first ascent.
Our lead guide and owner Eric Dumerac recently wrote an article for FlightNetwork.com that describes the allure of this niche sport and the accessibility to anyone who is physically determined. Here’s a quick summary:
- Ice forms from slow freezing of aqua flows that form pillars, icicles and chandelier-like formations
- 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.
- There is such a thing as beginner ice climbing where people starts on low-angle terrain. As climbers gain strength and experience they work their way up to vertical and eventually overhanging ice
- Routes will sometimes involve scaling sections of rock between ice formations. This is known as mixed climbing.
- The Canadian Rockies is considered one of the top ice climbing destinations in the world.
- Ice climbing routes can be found in winter regions worldwide. Other hot spots include Colorado (in particular Ouray Ice Park), Rjukan in Norwayand the Swiss Alps.
Ice climbing season is wrapped for the season on the west coast but is still going for a few weeks in the Canadian Rockies so if you want to cross this activity off your bucket list this season contact us today to learn more about guided adventures around and Banff/Canmore. If you’re considering making an adventure weekend out of it, Flight Network has some great suggestions for places to eat, soak and play in 72 Hours in Banff.
On the coast? Remember, rock climbing season is just around the corner and some routes are already open. Contact us to learn more about our rock adventures!