Professional climber Will Gadd took ice climbing to new heights by being the first person ever to ascend the frozen sections of the world’s largest flowing waterfall, Niagara Falls.
Gadd, with climbing partner Sarah Hueniken, scaled the northern most part of the famous Horseshoe Falls starting from the frozen river base of Niagara River and climbing to Terrapin Point on Goat Island, the block of land that separates the Horseshoe Falls and American Falls. The climb distance is 42 metres (140 feet) and the route ran almost exactly along the U.S.-Canada border, a fitting route for Gadd as a dual citizen of the two countries – born in Colorado and now a long time resident of Canmore, Alberta.
“I’ve travelled the world in search of the most challenging climbs, but Niagara Falls, one of my home country’s most iconic landmarks, has been a lifelong mission that I previously never thought possible,” said Gadd. “It was very real on that wall. There’s a lot going on. The ice thickness varies from one inch to 10 feet, so every swing and grab is different. There’s a lot to account for, all this with the world’s most powerful waterfall flowing over my shoulder.”
The recently released footage shows Gadd navigating through ice shelves, spray ice blocks, and treacherous rock walls to accomplish this first-ever feat. With 150,000 tons of water flowing over the crest every minute at speeds of nearly 115 km/h, the generated impact is equivalent to roughly 4,000 eighteen-wheel trucks hitting the ground at the same time.
“The massive water flow constantly shakes the ground and makes the ice shelves and walls around you unsteady and unpredictable. It’s a harsh environment and an intense challenge to stay attached to the wall let alone climb it,” remarked Gadd.
With this historic climb, he adds to a list of impressive achievements over the past year. He’s been nominated as one of National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year, has climbed the rapidly melting ice glaciers of Kilimanjaro and won the prestigious Ouray Ice Festival competition.
- For Background - In the past 12 months Gadd has successfully climbed the wildest ice cave at Helmcken Falls in British Columbia, Canada; he ascended the rapidly melting ice glaciers of Kilimanjaro; he became one of National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year for paragliding across the Rockies; he took home the top prize at the highly prestigious Ouray Ice Festival competition; and to cap it off, now he’s ice climbed the most famous waterfall in the world, Niagara Falls.
- The climb was coordinated with the Niagara Falls State Park who view this as a great opportunity to bring recognition to the beautiful environment, scenic parks and historic lands and shed light on the tremendous importance of not only preserving these areas but also using them for recreation, rejuvenation and inspiration.
- Will Gadd’s historic Niagara Falls climb was in conjunction with the Niagara Falls State Park Police who were able to use the climb to further develop the team’s knowledge on ice climbing preparation, safety, and rescues.
Courtesy of Red Bull.