Ice climbing and the climate crisis: What’s the link?

Maya Silver

Maya Silver


The risk to winter sports activities, like mountain climbing, might rank low on the precedence listing of local weather issues, however they present a transparent instance of a technique our world is altering—and what we, as folks, are motivated to avoid wasting.

For the uninitiated, mountain climbing includes ascending frozen water with crampons strapped to mountaineering boots and an ice axe in every hand. Norway, Canada, and the US Rocky Mountains are a number of high locations for the game. The vast majority of ice routes exist on pure waterfalls that freeze come winter, however you can even “farm” ice by watering cliffs.

The best quantity of farmed ice on the earth is present in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Each winter, the Ouray Ice Park irrigates 1.5 miles of cliffs within the Uncompahgre Gorge. The Park additionally hosts the North American Championships and, since 1996, an annual ice pageant that draws climbers from throughout the globe.

My want to chase frozen waterfalls is as sturdy as my love for the city of Ouray. Not solely does this lesser-known vacation spot arguably have the very best entry to ice wherever, it’s additionally managed to retain the small-town, western attraction that so many different locations have misplaced to company ski resorts and the true property growth that follows.

As for the long-term way forward for mountain climbing, O’Neil predicts that, “if the ski trade goes away, we’ll go away.” In Bayne’s opinion, whereas many sports activities like snowboarding, ice fishing, and snowmobiling face local weather impacts, hotter winters have “the most important affect on disturbing the mountain climbing season.”

Will we see extra parks like Ouray open in an effort to realize extra management over situations and lengthen the lifespan of the game? Will indoor mountain climbing gyms, like the large fridge in Scotland, proliferate?

Or will we determine that mountain climbing with out pure ice simply isn’t the identical, and let the game go? No matter the place this area of interest pursuit finally ends up, all we will do is advocate for local weather motion, and observe the usual sign of a belayer after they’re able to catch your fall: Climb on.

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