The extreme sport of ice climbing originated during the 19th century; it was mostly practiced by European mountaineers.Ice climbing probably is the Mad Hatter among all extreme sports; anyone who's tried it will surely vouch for this statement. Just imagine, this sport involves scaling a vertical cliff covered in slippery ice with nothing more than a couple of axes and a pair of crampons―and all of this is to be done in the biting cold.
Not many would be game for a monstrosity like ice climbing, but there are a few out-of-this-world people out there who get their kicks from it. With those people in mind, here's a list of the most amazing places to go ice climbing in the US.
New Hampshire, with its prolonged winters and short summers, is an ideal destination for ice climbing. The center of activity in this state is the Frankenstein Cliff. With its several crag-style ice routes, this remains a popular haunt for ice climbers.
If you're looking for something that's even scarier, look no further than Cannon Cliff, which carries quite the brutal reputation for ice climbing.
Mt. Washington is considered to be a hallowed climb within this sport. The mountain's unpredictable weather is legendary; there are several tragedies that stand testimony of this fact. Nevertheless, the peak continues to lure both, alpine and ice climbers. NE Climbs has all the lowdown on ice climbing in the New England region.
Come winter, and Colorado's famous rock climbing sites get inundated with ice climbers. This unfailingly happens, each year, as Colorado's harsh winter causes most of its water bodies to freeze.
Ouray is the state capital when it comes to ice climbing. The Ouray Ice Park holds the distinction of being the world's first ice park, with around 10,000 climbers using it annually. More than 200 routes have been identified and mapped, making way for easy access. The climbing season is December to March, and the annual Ouray Ice Festival takes place every January, which attracts climbers and gear manufacturers from all over the world.
The San Juan mountains in the vicinity are also a hotbed of activity for ice climbers. The San Juan Mountain Guides provide beginners with safety equipment and basic training.
For ice climbers, the state of Alaska indeed is the Last Frontier, and quite literally. Thanks to its proximity to the Arctic, the state's climate is very conducive to an extreme sport like this. In fact, Alaska Iceclimbers has a dedicated website for the convenience of fellow enthusiasts.
Valdez, in southcentral Alaska has welcomed ice climbers ever since the early 1970s. The list of ice climbs around Valdez includes
- Mineral Creek
- Solomon Gulch
- Hole in the Wall
- Keystone Canyon
- Bear Creek
- 17 Mile Wall
- Sheep Creek
- 19 Mile Wall
This area is known among ice climbers as 'The Lake', and is considered by many to be one of the toughest to scale. The Vermont Outdoor Guide Association has detailed information regarding routes, equipment rentals, and instructors.
The state of California has been blessed with one of the best ice climbing terrains and conducive climate. The Yosemite National Park, in particular has caught on as a premier ice climbing destination over the years. With the park's towering mountains, it is easy to find a spot for some high adrenaline adventure.
The trickier part of hiking in Yosemite is that the ice formations here can be pretty erratic. At times, it may take you quite some time to find a suitable wall of ice to climb. All the same, you are guaranteed to enjoy the ride through this scenic national park.
Widow's Tears happens to be the longest continuous ice climb in the Lower 48, but note that ice is not a regular feature here, and it has only been climbed a few times. The California Alpine Guides also recommend Lee Vining and June Lake ice climbing areas in the Eastern Sierra Nevada. These places are deemed suitable for beginners, with courses being offered as well.
Ice climbing, being an extreme sport, should never be taken lightly. In fact, there can be no end to the number of safety precautions you may use. While they may act as a dampener, you must regard the fact that ignoring instructions may have disastrous consequences―do ensure that you enjoy the sport responsibly.