There are amazing destinations in the world to ice climb. In 2007, we were asked to join an expedition to Antarctica to run ice climbing tours for intrepid travellers. That was the same year we had our first child so that didn’t materialize. Although it may have been fun to have a baby while navigating the most treacherous water crossing in the world through a hurricane (will have to tell that story another time). Let’s just say the Drake’s passage crossing has made me decide never to take a cruise again. Ever.
Back to ice climbing. There are some great places to climb in Ontario such as Thunder Bay, Lake Superior, Muskoka, and Huntsville but usually the drive makes it less desirable as a day trip. Most people have no idea that they can ice climb less than one hour from Toronto! One of the main locations, Tiffany Falls in Hamilton, has a spectacular horseshoe shaped waterfall where the ice is thick and peaks at 80-ft high. This is a great destination for large groups and the Alpine Club climbs there on Sundays while ONE AXE Pursuits has exclusive rights on Saturdays. At this time, general public is not allowed to climb without us but we are all working on changing that so that the public can have access too. At this point, you have to be with us or with the ACC to climb there. Unfortunately, for the last couple years, Tiffany Falls hasn’t formed well due to the warm temperatures.
Enter new favourite location: Elora, Ontario (1.5 hours from Toronto, Ontario, Canada). The ice climbs in Elora usually form later in the season and for those who have climbed Scary Pillar, you know that the natural forming climbs are not really beginner routes and can easily pump you out because they are so steep. After a year of Tiffany Falls having insufficient ice and a lot of disappointed clients, we decided to take matters into our own hands. With permission from the township, we procured the equipment to pump the river water up to the top of a section of cliff. This allows us to create our own ice climbs so that we can offer courses earlier in the season.
Ice farming has made us appreciate all the farmers who are slaves to the weather. During ice climbing season, I think I check the weather five times per day on average. We scour weather apps for predictions for nights with ideal ice building conditions. We stay up all night and watch the ice drip, redirecting the water constantly to create the best ice. This is serious business. After about 40 hours of building ice in ideal temperatures we will have four ice climbs ready. Ice climbers are welcome top rope climb (with their own equipment) on our ice when we are not using it to run courses or running water to build or repair the ice. Climbers are welcome to contact us to find out more about this option. Ice climbing in Elora, Ontario is just one of the awesome programs we have here at ONE AXE Pursuits. After the beginner course, consider learning to set up your own anchors with the ice anchor program as well as our mountaineering program right here in Elora, Ontario!
December is here and what that, Christmas present season! Nowadays, it can be so hard to find the right gift, especially for those who are hard to buy for! I can totally relate since I often fail at gift giving and both the receiver and I are disappointed at the result. There’s nothing worse than seeing the gift that purchased at the next summer garage sale or local thrift store. So, I have a solution this year!
Buy gifts that leave the person with a memory. A gift that stays with them. Something that reminds them how they conquered their fears or pushed their limits. Not everyone has the time and funds to go on a big expedition, but we can all take a few hours out of a day to invest in ourselves and our experiences.
Check out ONE AXE Pursuits’ line of one-day adventures. Zipline and rappelling (called Zipline Extreme), Caving, Rock climbing and this year’s favourite – Ice climbing right here in in Elora, Ontario. There are two timeslots this year. Experienced belayers start at 8am and complete beginners start at 11am. What a great gift for someone who has everything? Maybe wrap the gift certificate with a chunk of ice or a nice mug?
Do you remember being a child and reading the Guinness Book of World Records? Remember dreaming that maybe one day, you could maybe skip and beat the world record? Or grow your fingernails? Or chew gum the longest?
Flash forward thirty years and adventurer and businessman Frederick Schuett’s children receive a Guinness Book of World Records for Christmas from a friend. It was with sheer delight and pleasure that they found their Daddy on one of the pages. At first, Schuett thought that the children had mistaken someone for their father, but when he examined the book more carefully, they were right! It was a picture of their father, Schuett at the Crater of Fire in Turkmenistan.
Frederick Schuett joined the National Geographic team to the “Gateway to Hell” or Darvaza in Turkmenistan’s Karakoum desert to rig a zipline over the Crater of Fire. The Crater of Fire is a crater that has been continuously burning for over forty years when the government decided to light it (in hope of extinguishing it). Schuett rigged the tyrolean traverse for George Kourounis to traverse across the flaming gas crater and then lowered him down into the crater to extract samples for science. And so, started the hunt for Schuett to do the rigging for more World Firsts.
After joining National Geographic to rig the zipline over Darvaza’s Crater of Fire in Turkmenistan, Schuett took Brazilian celebrity, Karina Oliani (who had heard about the Turkmenistan stunt) to zipline over Erte Ale Volcano in Ethiopia. Not a year passed and another expedition, this time to Marum Volcano in Vanuatu with a Princess (can’t say which one) to set a couple more world records. The fun is just beginning as international calls and contracts keep coming from people asking for Schuett’s rigging expertise. He is the only person to date who has rigged these ziplines over lava.
Schuett has many world first ideas that no one else has dreamed of. Now he is searching for potential clients to complete the stunts. Will it be royalty? A celebrity? An oil tycoon? You?