Water fall Ice Climbing
- Destination: Annapurna Region, langtang, Rolwaling, Everest
- Trip Grade: Easy
- Best Seasons: Spring, Autumn
A waterfall is one of nature’s many spectacles. Most of us have stood transfixed by falling water at one time or another – we pause to listen to a trickling falls as we hike through the woods or marvel over the power of Niagara. But during the winter some waterfalls completely transform. Where they once rushed roaring water, they now stand frozen, white and silent.
Generally, there are two kinds of ice climbing – alpine and waterfall. As you might surmise from its name, you’ll find alpine ice in a mountain environment. It’s part of the terrain, may be steep or flat, is primarily derived from snow and is sometimes mixed with rock. Waterfall ice, on the other hand, is vertical, frozen water. There are two types of frozen waterfalls: one type forms from a legitimate waterfall and one type forms from temporary runoff after a particularly heavy rain.
It’s probably hard to imagine that the rushing water of a falls could freeze, but it can. Here’s how it happens. In freezing temperatures, water molecules begin to slow down and eventually stick together, which is how water changes from a liquid to a solid. The snowball effect of those gumming water molecules results in a waterfall that’s frozen in midair. Climbers are attracted to frozen waterfalls because the surface is always changing. Midday sun, changing temperatures, precipitation and runoff will send new trickles of water down to refreeze in different formations. So, if you “scar” the ice today with your tools, in a week or two the scar will be gone, replaced with a newly frozen bump or ridge.
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