REGION: Virginia

ACTIVITY: Ice Climbing


Virginia Ice
Posted in Virginia & Ice Climbing Tags: shenandoah  

Yes; believe it or not there is ice in Virginia! Just about every year, if you're willing to spend your free time driving to the coldest, darkest highest points of the state, you can find ice for at least 3-4 weeks out of the year. For those living around Charlottesville there is a small but dedicated contingent of ice climbers who are willing to skip work when the ice is in.

Below is a listing of (possible) ice climbing areas in central Virginia.

 Parkway Ice:

  • If you head north from the gap just south of Wintergreen you'll pass by the obvious falls. There are 3-4 possible lines here depending on conditions. I call this area "The Fingers". The Main Falls usually has a fat chandeliered line that is usually quite wet. To the right is "The Ribbon" - a 50' tall and 3' wide ribbon of ice that is an excellent route.
  • Hike past the "Fingers" area; after about 3/4 mile you'll see a pillar of ice on the left. It's a steep 30' pillar that always formed up fat.
  • Hike 1 mile past the "Fingers" and you'll find a beautiful wall of ice that is about 15 -20' tall and around 100 feet long. Awesome ice bouldering!
  • If you head about 15 miles south from the gap just S of Wintergreen you'll pass a small stream on your left. It's about 200' of mellow ice and is a good place to practice french technique... nothing hard but if you're new to crampons it's fun to play here.
  • Crabtree Falls (the highest waterfall in Virginia and depending on how you qualify a waterfall, possibly highest waterfall east of the Mississippi) usually forms up for a few weeks out of the year. The main falls has a nice line on the far right; the entire falls can be lead but be prepared for very thin ice and the strong possibility of falling through the ice into the waterfall (after all - you are in Virginia)!

Harrisonburg / Valley Area:

  • In cold spells there is a wall of ice that forms in the Rawley Springs area. Follow the trail down from the river and you'll see the drip

Shenandoah National Park Ice

  • If you drive to Browns Cove and then head up the trail to SNP there is a waterfall that forms up every so often. Check the map as I can't remember the exact name.
  • White Oak Canyon usually forms up every year. Besides the obvious areas down low there is an awesome pillar at the very top of the falls. Hike to the top and then drop down to the river hiking along the bottom of the rock walls. The pillar is about 50' tall and quite steep and sustained.
  • Hawksbill Mountain is said to have a few mixed lines of rock and ice.
  • Old Rag Mountain has a number of ice routes that can form up over the rock climbs; protection can be tough. One year I spied a beautiful line on the N slopes of Old Rag. Hike up to the summit and then drop down the obvious gully on the north side. A few years ago this gully was choked with ice and by downclimbing / rapping to the base you could then climb a 2-3 pitch route of mixed rock and ice back to the summit. I haven't climbed this route so I can't say how steep it is. My guess is it's pretty easy except for a few steep boulderly ice moves.

Beyond Charlottesville:

  • Numerous routes form up at the New River every winter. Call Waterstone Outdoors for route information.
  • Blackwater Falls in WV is rumored to have big ice.
  • On the road to Whitegrass there are numerous drips.
  • Whitesides (NC) has some of the biggest ice around... 3-4 pitch lines form up every year.

Enjoy the southern ice when you can; it usually doesn't last very long!

  •  Main Falls at The Fingers
  •  Main Falls
  •  Main Falls
  •  Lower Crabtree Falls
  •  Lower Crabtree Falls
  •  Lower Crabtree Falls
  •  Upper Crabtree Falls
  •  White Oak Canyon

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