Stairways into Winter

Ice Climbing
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Mt. Washington Valley, New Hampshire
The third week of February each year, you can watch world-class ice climbers tackle impressive frozen waterfalls, as North Conway plays host to the annual Mt. Washington Valley Ice Festival. One of the biggest events of its kind, the festival provides a perfect opportunity to see what this sport is all about. In 2000, festival organizers even built an ice-climbing tower on site at the Sheraton Four Points Hotel so festival visitors could try the sport for free, undersupervision from the International Mountain Climbing School (603.356.7064. www.ime-usa.com). along with organizing the festival, the school offers regular ice-climbing and winter mountaineering clinics all winter long.

Cody and Tetons, Wyoming
Generally regarded as Wyoming's best ice venue, Shoshone Canyon near the town of Cody offers an unrivaled diversity of ice-climbing options. In February each year, Cody hosts a Weaterfall Ice Champout on the South Fork of the Shoshone River above the town. Elsewhere, the moutains of northwest Wyoming provide excellent opportunities for witner ice climbs. Death Canyon in the Tetons boasts short and medium length practice routes, and Torrey Canyon in the Wind River Range features formidable ice gullies and curtains. Exum Mountain Guides (307.733.2297. www.exumguides.com) offers a wide range of private climbs to suit every client's interests and skills.
Thunder Bay, Ontario
North of Lake Superior, near Thunder Bay, you'll find great vertical ice and dependable climbing conditions, November through April. The winter climbing program is run by North of Superior Climbing Company (Thunder Bay, ON P7B 5E8, Canada. 807.344.9636. www.climbingcentral.com). The company offers a one-day introduction to ice climbing for $84 (CN); two-day intermediate and advanced courses start at $275 (CN); and a seven-day Ice Week for $1,000 (CN), including gear but not lodging. You can even arrange a privately guided first ascent of a new local ice fall—and you get to name the climb. Each March, the company hosts the Orient Bay Ice Fest, featuring ice-climbing clinics and competitions.


Paul McMenamin is the author, editor, and photo director of the original Ultimate Adventure Sourcebook.

Published: 14 Nov 2001 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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