Big White’s New Ice Climbing Clinics

Big White, BC will launch an “Ice Climbing Series” this winter on its slopeside ice tower.

Three winter clinics, led by Canadian ice climbing experts, will culminate in an  Ice Climbing competition. From beginner to expert, Big White is the only ski resort in North America offering this experience. They are also offering 10% off accommodation to course participants and a lift & lodging special from $81 per person, per day.

Custom built and operated by Corporate Heights, the tower is built with four telephone poles cross-braced together then flooded with water, the ice tower freezes into three feet of thick blue ice. There is a beginner side and three other sides for more advanced climbers with a choice of 19 different routes to get to the top. This is an activity for all fitness levels, and since opening has seen over 3500 people aged from 4 to 78 take up the challenge.

Beginners Clinic: January 19 & 20, 8:30am – 5pm: $300

Jim Ongena will be teaching guests new to the sport how to best scale the 60 foot tower of ice, which looks pretty daunting from the bottom. A professional and passionate climber, Ongena has been climbing for over 41 years and will be covering; equipment use and care, safety checks, knots, climbing techniques, ice tool placement, how to use crampons, belaying skills and rappelling. Ongena is the owner and operator of the Big White Ice Tower so guests will be in good hands with him as their instructor.

 Women’s Only Clinic: January 26 &27, 8:30am – 5pm: $300

Climbing guide, Margot Talbot, a writer and climber who has pioneered numerous first ascents of waterfall ice in Canada, instructs the women only clinics. Throwing out the notion that only the herculean can haul themselves up steep ice, Talbot is an inspirational woman who has competed at the ESPN X-Games. The 2-day course will cover the same aspects as the beginner clinic, but with no boys allowed.

 Advanced Clinic: February 9 & 10, 8:30am – 5pm: $400

The advanced clinic is designed for people who have some experience climbing ice and want to take their skill level up a notch. Focusing on movement, leading, anchor building and multi-pitch tips, this clinic is lead by one of the best climbers in the world. Will Gadd is a 3-time Gold Medal Winner at the X-Games and former winner of the Ice Climbing World Cup.  He is also an award-winning writer, filmmaker and television host, but he’s most famous for being one of the most versatile outdoor professional athletes in the world today.

 Ice Tower Competitions: February 23 & 24, 8:30am – 5pm: $75 adult / $20 child

Spread over two days, the ice tower competitions challenge participant speed, skill, and accuracy with climbers vying to take home the title of “Ultimate Ice Man/Woman”. The events include a timed speed competition, number of hits into the ice (the least wins), and “one tool only” where they will be swinging just one axe into the ice. The kids’ event will be held on Feb 23 and the winner will be the one who climbs the highest relative to their own height.

 For more information on Big Whte’s ice tower visit: www.bigwhite.com

Photo courtesy of Big White

SnowOnline Editor: Lori Knowles

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