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New Artificial Ice Climbing Wall Built in Edmonton

This will be Edmonton’s first and only ice climbing facility, operated in the beautiful river valley with downtown in sight

The Edmonton Ski Club is building an arificial ice climbing wall with the Edmonton Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) section. Edmonton houses hundreds of ice and rock climbers who visit the mountains weekly.

The ACC said, “We have decided to bring this exciting sport inside the heart of the City. The ice wall combines Edmontonians’ love of the outdoors, recreation, and adventure to create an exciting new activity for all. Our long cold winters and large population make for an ideal location for this facility.”

Adam Luciuk, general manager of the ski club, said the ice is being formed on a scaffolding structure, noting: “The climbing structure will be about nine metres because you do need to belay off the actual structure.”

Construction of the structure started on Dec. 14 and work to build the ice wall began last week. Temperatures of between -15 C and -20 C are ideal to build the ice.

“Ideally, we have cold temperatures. So same with snow-making, making ice requires quite cold temperatures. Right now it’s quite good with the low sun angle in the sky and the spot where we have it is quite shaded as well. So that does help with being able to construct the ice a little bit quicker.”

The wall will be open to the general public, but participants must know how to belay and have their belay ticket. Intro sessions will be offered for those new to the sport.

“Once a week, there is a beginner session that will be open for people to register for as well,” Luciuk said. “Right now it’s a one-and-a-half (hour) introductory session that people can participate in.”

For more information on the facility and other attractions, visit the Edmonton Ski Club’s here. Bookings for time slots on the Ice Wall will be available soon to all ACC members and the public.

Artificial Ice Walls

This isn’t the first artificial ice climbing wall to be built in Canada. Over the years, dozens have been constructed for club purposes or events. Below are just a few examples.

Northwestern Ontario’s Eagle Canyon once farmed 30-metre ice climbs in a canyon north of Thunder Bay. However, they stopped after only a few seasons.

Downtown Banff had a reappearing wall on Main Street where new climbers could experience steep ice. It was built by MEC and an event called the Knucklebasher would take place every winter.

In Manitoba, Brad Friesen, who lives north of Winnipeg, was inspired by the St. Boniface Alpine Club of Canada’s ice wall and built his own. He told us in 2013, “The tower was made using three hydro poles that were planted in the ground for the support. Then I framed up the wall and hung snow fence for the ice to form on. I had to build a custom sprayer that spanned the width of the tower. For spraying I started near the bottom and then slowly raised the sprayer as the ice formed. I can crawl out of bed in the morning and go do laps to start my day. My tower isn’t the only tower in Manitoba. A friend of mine has one in his backyard, so I had several resources to gather info from.”

Over the years, Alaska has had a number of artificial ice walls, such as this one: