Indoor ice climbing is the perfect way for people to learn the sport or hone their skills before an outdoor climb. Because ice climbing in the mountains can be so dangerous, indoor ice climbing facilities are a great idea for anyone interested in learning the sport. Not only can people find out if they like ice climbing, but they can also learn about the gear, the techniques and the safety methods of ice climbers.

Many ice climbing facilities have multiple routes that vary in height and difficulty level, so they are also valuable places for climbers trying to improve their skills.

The World’s Biggest

The Ice Factor, which is located in Scotland, is the world’s biggest indoor ice climbing facility. The Ice Factor boasts around 1400 square meters of different ice climbing routes that reach heights of fifteen meters. The ice wall is so massive that they had to pour a 15-meter thick concrete slab to support it. There is somewhere in the area of 500 tons of snow on the wall that is hand-packed and manipulated so that the routes can change constantly.

There are coolant pipes full of Glycol that run behind the wall’s face to keep it frozen. They also have precise control over the temperature of the room, which is perfectly insulated, so that they can recreate freeze/thaw cycles to make the ice wall as realistic as possible.

A Field of Competitors

Ice climbing’s growth in popularity has caused indoor ice climbing facilities to pop up all around the world, including such places as Great Britain, the Netherlands, the United States and New Zealand. However, it is O2 world in Seoul, South Korea that actually has the highest indoor ice climbing wall in the world at 60 feet.

Where the Best Compete

There is also an annual ice climbing competition that is held in an indoor facility. It’s called the North Face Ice Climbing World Cup and it will be in Saas-Fee, Switzerland in 2008. Though it may seem like a competition for the peoples of northern Europe, there were ninety-one competitors from fourteen different countries competing in 2007.

The competition focuses on difficulty and speed and it draws in over 2,000 ice climbing fans each year. So, not only do indoor ice climbing facilities offer beginners a place to learn and novices a place to practice safely, they also provide the best climbers in the world with a level playing field on which to compete.