While many people think winter is a time of hibernation, I think of it as a time of adventure! And when an awesome blogger friend of mine CamperChristina shot me a message on Facebook inviting me to go ice climbing with her, I jumped at the opportunity! Think I’m crazy? Here are some reasons why I’m not, and why YOU should try ice climbing this winter!
Reason No 1 :: Try Something Out of The Ordinary
Variety is the spice of life so why not try something new! Ice climbing is becoming more popular in the winter months, but it’s still not nearly as common as hiking or skiing. Take a chance and give ice climbing a shot, you just might like it! If you don’t, that’s alright as knowing what you don’t like is just as important as knowing what you do. In my opinion though, I think you’ll be a fan!
Reason No 2 :: Unplug from Technology
Today’s society is attached at the hip to technology (myself included) as we hide inside to sit on our butts and peruse what the newest celebrity disaster is. Ice climbing gives you an exciting reason to get off that couch, but the phone away, and get some quality time with Mother Nature. Heading to the great outdoors has also been proven to reduce stress, so take the weight of the every day off your shoulders, leave it at home, and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer!
Reason No 3 :: Explore a New Area
You can’t go ice climbing just anywhere, so chances are you’ll be exploring a new part of the world you’ve never been to before! My ice climbing adventure took me to Ontario’s Highlands. Before this, I had never been to the area and decided to make a weekend of it. There is a lot to see and do in the area, including many hiking trails and waterfalls (like the one below). If you’re really adventurous, you can camp at many of the locations nearby, like Algonquin Provincial Park!
Reason No 4 :: Help You Embrace Winter
Many people think winter is the season that comes back with a vengeance every year to put a thorn in our side for 4 or more months of the year. However, an exhilarating activity like ice climbing just might make you change your tune. Especially for the rock climbers out there, ice climbing will keep you in shape all winter long and ready for climbing season come spring. Since ice climbing can only be done in the winter… you just might start looking forward to the colder months!
Reason No 5 :: You Get To Use An Axe
Not just one but two, yes TWO axes! You’ll feel like a boss while wielding an axe in each hand as you swing these bad boys. If that wasn’t enough, your boots will have a set of crampons which you’ll use to kick into the ice. The focus is meant to be on your feet as you swing your feet in to create a sturdy base while using your axes to help guide yourself upwards. Although if you’re anything like me, you’ll be much more focused on hurling the axes into the ice wall because it’s so awesome.
Reason No 6 :: It’s A Great Workout
Your enthusiasm in throwing around the axes will take its toll as muscles you didn’t even know existed will be sore. It’s a whole body workout as you kick into the ice with all your might and hold your body weight up while placing your next step. Don’t worry, feeling the burn means you’re doing it right!
Reason No 7 :: Make New Friends
As these excursions are often done in groups, you just might make a new friend or two! For me, I was able to actually meet CamperChristina in person after talking for weeks online which was a real treat! If you don’t leave with an everlasting friendship, you’ll at least have great conversation for the day with similarly-minded people.
Reason No 8 :: An Opportunity to Push Your Comfort Zone
Take it from a gal that has pretty terrible vertigo, it’s extremely rewarding to push yourself and slowly overcome fears. For the adrenaline junkies out there, I’ve seen people scale entire icy facades in the wilderness of Alberta or even waterfalls close to home! No matter how far you take it, you’ll be broadening your horizons and having a blast while doing it. Besides, who doesn’t want to say “I climbed an icy wall with axes, what did YOU do this weekend?”
What About Ice Climbing Gear?
Purchasing the heavy duty ice climbing gear such as the harness, crampons, etc is expensive, and completely unecessary when signing up for a day trip. Just arrive in your usual snow gear – winter jacket, snow pants, boots, toque and mittens as you’ll be outside the majority of the time. However, I’d suggest not wearing your finest as the axes and crampons are sharp. They take a little bit to get used to using, so you may tear your snowpants. Underneath I’d suggest wearing something thermal that breathes as I guarantee ice climbing will make you sweat! A bottle of water wouldn’t hurt either. Oh, and a camera of course… pictures or it didn’t happen!
So, Tell Me Already – Where Can I Try Ice Climbing in Ontario?
While there are a number of places you can try your hand at ice climbing, I highly suggest heading to Ontario’s Haliburton Highlands. The Medeba Adventure Learning Centre is a great spot for a beginner to try it in a highly controlled environment. Their package is more of an ice climbing lesson, and is great for someone who’s never tried it before. I felt extremely safe the entire time and had a blast chatting with Brianna and Jamie as well as the organizer, Barrie from Yours Outdoors. (Thanks for dealing with me as I continuously butchered belay commands!) Also, for your entertainment, see what happens when an extremely vocal gal has a little trouble while climbing. Enjoy!
Now, who’s ready for a winter adventure?! Have you ever tried ice climbing before? I found it a bit tough as it was my first time, but it’s definitely a great workout. Not to mention a fun winter adventure! Although it might be good to work out your upper body a bit before you go as my arms got tired quickly! Does ice climbing sound a little too intense for you? Maybe one of these other winter activities will tickle your fancy!
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