Unlike rock-climbing, ice-climbing in Southern Ontario is still in its formative stages. New crags are being discovered every season, and it’s rare that you’ll encounter more than a handful of other climbers, even at the most popular crags.
Unfortunately, although the winter weather is ideal for ice formation, the topography is not so favourable and there are few crags with a large number of climbs. A typical winter excursion might involves a drive of three hours or more, and perhaps another hour of walking or skiing, to reach a crag that features just one or two pitches of climbing.
Despite this, a day spent climbing in the winter wilderness, amongst the snow-covered hills and frozen lakes, the silence broken only by the distant drone of few snowmobiles, is an experience that is not to be missed.
The best and most scenic climbing in the area is to be found at numerous small crags that dot the Madawaska Highlands between Huntsville and Bancroft. For those who prefer convenience of access to aethsetic considerations, there is also ice-climbing to be found on the southern Niagara Escarpment in and around Hamilton, but the warmer weather in this area and the salt run-off from enroaching urban development means that ice forms less reliably than further north.