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Here’s Where to Ice Climb Around Toronto

Within 90 minutes, ice climbers from Toronto can find a number of fun lines around Hamilton and Elora

Photo by: Matt Brooks of Tiffany Falls

Toronto has over 50 years of climbing history, is in the centre of many cliffs and escarpments, and has produced some of Canada’s top climbers. Over the decades, some fine ice routes have been climbed, however, warm weather and access issues have long made climbing those lines tricky.

The closest ice climbing to the city is southwest toward Hamilton and the Niagara Escarpment. Other options include driving north to Parry Sound and Sudbury, northeast toward Bancroft, or east to Quebec. For ice routes close to Ottawa visit here.

1: Tiffany Falls / 2: Elora Gorge

Some of the routes within 90 minutes of Toronto that have been climbed over the years, include: Forks of Credit Falls WI3 20m, Bronte Creek WI2 20m, Webster Falls WI3 15m, Borer’s Falls WI2 12m, Tews Falls WI2-4, 25-50m, 403 Icefall WI3 20m, Devil’s Punchbowl WI3/4 20m, Felker’s Falls WI3 20m, Buttermilk Falls WI3/4 20m, Albion Falls WI2 20m and Ball’s Falls WI4 20m. Access to some or all of these areas might be closed, so it’s best to check with local access groups before venturing out.

Tiffany Falls and Elora Gorge are open to ice climbers. There are restrictions to climbing, including being a member of the local Alpine Club of Canada section. Again, best to touch base with local access group before heading out.

Tiffany Falls has lines from WI2 to WI4 and is probably the closest open ice climbs to Toronto. The lines are: Falls Left WI2 20m, Middle Falls WI4 25m and WI4/5 M45 20m. To get there, take Hwy 403 to Exit 64 (Mowhawk Rd), turn right onto Wilson, then again onto Montgomery. Look for the small pull in lot on the side of the road, then follow the well marked trail to the falls. From the Hamilton Conservation Authority website: “When the weather permits, Hamilton Conservation Authority allows use of Tiffany Falls. Climbers must be members of the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC), or be attending an ice climbing class with OneAxe Pursuits. No individual ice climbing permits will be issued by the HCA.”

Elora Gorge on the Grand River has some of the best climbs in the area, and is only a 1.5-hour drive from Toronto. The natural routes in the area are Ma Mie WI3 20m, Scary Pillar WI4 12m and the five climbs in the Gorge itself, which range from WI3 to WI4 and up to 12m. A local guiding company recently gained permission from the township to farm ice in Elora Gorge for beinner courses.

Ice climbing is a fun way to explore the steep cliffs around Toronto in winter, plus the climbs are a good warm-up for the bigger lines up north and out west in the Rocky Mountains. Watch top ice climber Stas Beskin toprope a dagger at Elora Gorge in 2016.

Elora Gorge


Lead photo: Matt Brooks of Tiffany Falls