Ice Climbing Tradition Continues at Northwood

Ice climbing is both exciting and dangerous. While ascending cliffs, icefalls, or frozen waterfalls, climbers often encounter falling rock and ice. Although ropes and other gear provide protection, a bad decision to step or grip on fragile spots on the climbing surface can be fatal, leading to serious injuries and even death. Despite these risks, however, many enjoy the challenge this physically intensive sport brings.

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Since ice climbing is a very gear-dependent activity, being prepared is a top priority to ensure safety. Ice climbing equipment includes ropes that can absorb shock and support the weight of the climber, crampons attached to boots for secure foot placements, and ice tools, also known as ice axes or ice picks. It is also important to dress appropriately for the weather when climbing. Ice climbers need to wear clothes that are warm enough to prevent frostbites but, at the same time, light enough to allow the freedom of movement.

Ice climbing is one of the most popular outdoor pursuits at Northwood. When Mr. Don Mellor ‘71 returned to Northwood as an English teacher, he initiated the Ice Climbing Program for student rock climbers who were ready to take on the next level of challenge. As a professional rock/ice climber who has been climbing in the Adirondacks for more than forty years, he takes pleasure in seeing a light go on in the eyes of a beginner. Yoshi Levey ‘19 and Cisco DelliQuadri ‘20 had never ice climbed before they first met Mr. Mellor, but over their years at Northwood they have grown passionate about the sport. Now they always ask to climb steeper icefalls in their free time.

Meanwhile, Mr. Mellor has a big climbing project coming up soon. During February break, he plans to climb the biggest waterfall he has ever seen, a 1,200-feet waterfall in Malbaie River Valley which is located north of Quebec. The climb will take about a day.

Ice climbing is not a common sport, but it certainly is an opportunity to challenge oneself in a breathtakingly beautiful setting. Students who would like to try ice climbing but do not have the proper equipment can borrow gear from the Outdoor Program. Mr. Mellor welcomes beginner climbers.


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