Go ice climbing in Cody, Wyoming

For the first time ever, the National Forest Service has issued permits for commercially guided ice climbing expeditions into the Shoshone National Forest, located near Cody, Wyoming. Those permits open up the spectacularly scenic region to adventurous travelers looking for a winter-time challenge unlike anything they’ve ever experienced before.

For the current ice climbing season, just two permits have been issued. One of those permits was given to the Jackson Hole Mountain Guides, from Jackson, Wyoming, and the other went to Southwest Adventure Guides, which operates out of Durango, Colorado. Both companies will be hosting multiple excursions into Shoshone, giving new climbers an opportunity to learn the sport first hand, while experienced climbers get the chance to take on some of the most iconic ice climbing routes in all of North America.

When it comes to winter climbing, Shoshone is one of the top destinations in the U.S. The national forest features the highest concentration of frozen waterfalls in the country and has often been called the “Yosemite” of ice climbing thanks to the high number and quality of climbs that are available there. Additionally, the region sees very little traffic during the winter months, which means that climbers enjoy plenty of seclusion in the backcountry, seldom having to share a route with others.

For those who haven’t had the opportunity to experience the sport before, ice climbing involves ascending frozen waterfalls or rock faces covered in ice, by using climbing axes in both hands and crampons on both feet. The climber then proceeds up the vertical face using the axes and sharp points on the crampons to hold themselves steady and make progress on the ice. It can be a great physical workout and a fantastic way to get outside in the winter months, when the weather isn’t always favorable for other kinds of activities.

If you’d prefer to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground, but would still like to check out ice climbing for yourself, then you may want to consider attending the Waterfall Ice Festival, which will be held in Cody from February 17-20 of 2012. The festival features plenty of ice climbing clinics, competitions, and demos, mixed in with lots of good food, music, and drinks as well.

[Photo credit: Hohum via WikiMedia]

Body of missing climber discovered after 21 years

On August 15th two hikers making their way through the Columbia Icefields of Canada discovered the body of American William Holland, who had been missing for more than 21 years. The 38-year old Holland had traveled to Canada back in April of 1989 to take on a challenging climbing route known as “Slipstream.” That route goes up a frozen waterfall on the 11,338-foot tall Snow Dome. Apparently, Holland slipped while making that climb, and fell more than 1000 feet to his death.

All previous attempts to discover what happened to the Maine native proved fruitless, as ice covered his remains, keeping him hidden until now. But with glaciers melting all over the globe, it seems that they have retreated enough in the Columbia Icefields to reveal Holland’s body at last.

According to a rescue specialist who helped with the recovery, the body was fully exposed and didn’t even need to be chipped from the ice. It was also said to be fairly well preserved and in an almost mummified state. Holland’s gear and clothing were also in nearly perfect condition as well thank to him being encased in ice for 21 years. He was still wearing his spiked boots and had a loop of climbing rope slung over his shoulder.

After 21 years of not knowing what happened to Holland, the discovery brings a measure of closure to his family.

[Photo credit: Qyd via WikiMedia]

Sharpen your ice axe, Ouray Ice Park opens tomorrow!

Global warming? Where? Thanks to unseasonably cold temperatures, the Ouray Ice Park, one of the premiere ice climbing locations in the world, will be opening tomorrow, a full week ahead of schedule. The park’s website credits a new water system, a dedicated team of ice makers, and two solid weeks of cold temps for allowing them to open earlier than ever.

Located in the Uncompahgre Gorge, near Ouray, Colorado, the Ice Park is a unique and popular destination for ice climbers from around the globe. When it opened in 1995, it was the first site exclusively dedicated to ice climbing anywhere in the world, and it has remained a top destination for the sport ever since. The park is maintained by a group of volunteers who work the climbing routes and ensure that the massive walls of ice are safe for others. This year, that crew has a new water system that provides more water pressure, which means harder and more stable ice. The results, according to park officials, is the best climbing conditions in Ouray ever.

Each year the park plays host to the Ouray Ice Festival as well, which includes major climbing competitions and clinics, live music, parties, and seminars put on by top climbers and mountaineers. The Ice Fest serves as a major fundraiser for the park and helps to provide resources to keep the place open for climbing each winter. As a result of this great event, the park remains fee free for adventurous climbers looking to to get a winter workout. The 15th annual Ouray Ice Festival will take place from January 7-10, 2010.

Three exciting winter deals from the Four Seasons

The Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts wants to host you for ski season and is offering some great deals this season. So, instead of just hitting your old standby or scrambling at the last minute, go upscale this time. The Four Seasons is delivering bargains from Jackson Hole to Whistler, BC. Chances are, there’s a great one waiting for you.

Skiing in Jackson Hole – This resort is hosting the first annual How-to-Heli Camp. You’ll be able to get to the virgin trails of the Teton mountains, delivering for skiers a real expedition through fresh snow … with no lines! The camp comes with two days of on-mountain instruction, lift tickets, a day of heli-skiing and four nights in the Four Seasons. The camp runs from February 3 – 7, 2009 and starts at USD 2,975.00 per person based on double occupancy.

Ice climbing in Whistler – Demonstrate your physical prowess with waterfall ice climbing (don’t worry, you’ll have a guide) … all it takes is a heft dose of courage and the $466 (USD) for a personal climb. Skiing’s a blast, but this will kick your adrenaline into overdrive.

Bungee jump into Cheakamus Canyon – drop into the canyon and trigger an unparalleled thrill. Plunge 160 feet toward the Cheakamus River; it probably won’t occur to you that it’s glacier-fed, but that will be interesting later. Book it through the Whistler concierge, at $115 a pop.

Ice Climbing Crawford Notch

Again, I’m not much of an ice climber. Seems a wee
bit too dangerous for me. Well, maybe not. I’d probably do it if I had the chance, but at least up to this point, I’ve
never done it. But all that personal nonsense is a way of getting to the point: check out this
over at explorenewengland.com (subscription) that takes us
to Crawford Notch, New Hampshire, an ice climbing mecca…at least an East Coast version.

The article takes
a look at how amateurs and complete newbies can get a taste of ice climbing by going out with groups like the Appalachian Mountain Club. The AMC, by the way, is a superbly cool organization
here on the East Coast that gets people together to do all manner of outdoor activities…activities like hiking,
kayaking, rock climbing, etc. The list really does go on and on.

Climbers in the article tackle a spot
called Frankenstein Cliff, a towering crag of granite that offers scores of frozen waterfalls to pick and haul. A
rather ominous name, but it seems whoever gage these places names was a fan of old monster films. To wit, the other
cliff names are Dracula, The Coffin, and Widow’s Walk, to name a few.