The Edmonton Ski Club is building a massive new winter attraction.
The ski club partnered with the Alpine Club of Canada to build a 10-metre ice-climbing facility at the ski hill in the city’s core.
“The structure you see behind me is the scaffolding structure. It supports the climber. So the climber will… be tied into the scaffolding structure and then in between the scaffolding structure, the ice is free-standing and that’s the structure that the climber will actually be climbing off of,” explained Adam Luciuk, general manager of the Edmonton Ski Club.
“It’s actually just under 10 metres in total height. The actual climbing structure will be about nine metres because you do need to belay off the actual structure.”
The idea for the ice-climbing facility began to percolate in the fall. Construction on the structure started on Dec. 14 and work to build the ice wall began two days ago.
“The process is quite extensive,” Luciuk said of the build.
Temperatures of between -15 C and -20 C are ideal for the ice build, he explained.
“Ideally, we have cold temperatures. So same with snow-making, making ice requires quite cold temperatures. Right now it’s quite good with the low sun angle in the sky and the spot where we have it is quite shaded as well. So that does help with being able to construct the ice a little bit quicker.”
The ice-climbing wall will be open to the general public. However, Luciuk noted that participants must know how to belay and have their belay ticket to be able to use the ice-climbing facility.
Introductory training sessions will be offered to those who do not have their belay ticket, he said.
“Once a week, there is a beginner session that will be open for people to register for as well,” Luciuk said. “Right now it’s a one-and-a-half (hour) introductory session that people can participate in.”
Because of COVID-19 precautions being taken by the ski club, everyone must book their climb in advance and only climb with their cohorts. Online booking will be available once an opening date for the ice-climbing wall is set.
People should arrive no more than 30 minutes ahead of their scheduled time. Face coverings are required at the hill.
Overall busy season at Edmonton Ski Club
Luciuk noted that it’s been a busy season so far for the ski club, with people getting outdoors more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lift tickets are sold out through the upcoming weekend as the hill limits the number of people on site to comply with public health measures.
“It’s really quite busy. On site there’s lots of traffic going through but we’re trying to make sure that people feel comfortable and can still distance themselves while on site,” Luciuk said.
“We want to have as many people experience the activities as possible. It just means extending our hours and trying to manage it and the educational point of it of just nowadays people do need to reserve and plan ahead.”
The ski hill also recently opened a tube park, and offers other activities on top of that.
“In addition to the ice-climbing wall, there’s also ski touring that’s offered here, lessons, mountaineering lessons, crevasse rescue. So those different types of activities. We’re actually doing training on site here as well, in partnership with the Alpine Club,” Luciuk said.
For more information on the ice-climbing facility and other attractions, visit the Edmonton Ski Club’s website.