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]