Muskoka Ice Climbing

An Epic Adventure

Muskoka Ice Climbing

After a few weeks of waiting for the perfect blue sky day, we finally got one that wasn’t -20 degrees! Pure Muskoka got together with the guys from Muskoka Outfitters and local photographer, Scott Turnbull to head out and shoot some Ice Climbing.

We had no idea that this day would turn into one of my most memorable “mini-adventures” of the past year.

We eventually got organized and picked out or fat bikes that Peter (from Muskoka Outfitters) brought and started on our ride to the climbing location.

Once we hit the frozen lake and began our ride — the real challenge began. The temperature was climbing and by 10 am we were at +8 and the lake and snow turned into calf burning tire eating slush. We ended up having to get off the bikes and walk ourselves (and all the gear).

What was supposed to be a ten minute bike ride turned into an hour long battle. Not only were we having to push our bikes and ourselves though the slush, we had two trailer sleds full of climbing and camera gear in tow. To top it all off we realized that our intended ice climbing location was not safe for climbing.

After a short group pow-wow (and much needed sip from our water bottles) a few snowmobilers stopped to to chat. We managed to talk one of them into giving one of our climbing friends a lift up the lake about another kilometre to scout out a new climbing location.  They returned with good news and bad news. The good news was the farther location was in ideal climbing condition, the bad news was,  well….it was farther!

This meant another muscle burning fat bike ride/push though the snow. Although it was completely exhausting, it was some of the most fun we have had outside all winter.

We finally arrived at our location and it was absolutely breathtaking. As soon as we arrived you could hear Scott’s camera working at full speed.

After Scott got as many shots as he could from the ground, it was time for him to head up the ice to capture our experience from above. It was so cool to watch as he slung his camera over his shoulder (rigged up with the necessary safety equipment) and head up the mountain of ice.

It was at this point where we realized how amazing our experience was and that our hard work was going to pay us back with stunning visuals. We were having so much fun.

Once Scott came back down off the ice, Peter looked right at Andy (from Pure Muskoka) and said “Okay, your turn”. Before he knew it he was all rigged up and halfway up the wall of ice. At that halfway point you could see his arms were feeling an odd combination of numbness as the burning and fatigue set in.

It looked for a moment that Andy wasn’t going to be able to make it to the top , but with coaching and coaxing from Peter (and the rest of the group) Andy lowered one arm at a time to allow the blood to flow back in. It gave him just enough strength to continue on and make it to the top.

As Andy made it to the top,  he turned his head around and said, “Wow, this is an incredible way to spend a Tuesday!”

A special thank you to Scott Turnbull and Tyler Ayles for supplying some of the great photography.