Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Ice climbing waterfalls in winter

Escarpment waterfalls are perfect for ice climbing during Canada's long winter.

With the sun shining on us we head out to explore some of the waterfalls around the Niagara Escarpment near Hamilton. Our first stop was to Borer's Falls where there were three ladies taking turns climbing the ice which looks like an upside down cauliflower. The warmer temperatures provide plenty of water flowing under the thick layers of ice.

The waterfalls of Spencer Gorge - Tew and Webster's Falls, become our next destination. Tew Falls water falls far down into the Gorge and it's height prevents the ice from building up and the spray from the water keeps the climbers away. The following picture is of the base of Tew Falls. We pass at going to Webster's Falls as the massive boulders at the base of the falls, coated in ice, would hinder us from getting good views of the falls.

So off we go to one of the best ice climbing locations - Tiffany Falls in Ancaster.

The climbers are daring adventure seekers and they carry quite the pile of equipment including some awesome ice picks. You also wouldn't want to walk on your hardwood floor with the climbing boots.

There is a group of climbers going up various parts of the large waterfall. Talking to one of the climbers I mention that I had a video posted on Youtube, taken a year ago, which shows one of the climbers trying to recover his pick from the frozen grip of the steep walls of frozen ice - just out of his reach. He said it was him, what a coincidence.

Several of his friends sent him a link to the video, posted below.

When one of the climbers removes a pin holding his rope at the top of the falls the hole left over pours out water like it is shooting out of a hose. The climbers climb both the ice and the shear rock cliffs and with the rock walls rising above the 21m level of the falls it makes for exciting viewing. For safety they all have partners on the ground holding onto to ropes so that any descent can be controlled.

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