There aren’t too many places to go ice climbing in the corn fields of Iowa, so avid climbers in the area have to get a little bit creative. Local climber Don Briggs took a staple of the landscape — a grain silo — and converted it into an ice climbing wall. The eight-story structure is covered with ice curtains that run along a large wall and opens every winter, provided that the temperatures are consistently below 26 degrees. The silo, which is located just outside Cedar Falls, Iowa, has become a climbing mecca in the middle of the Great Plains.
It’s been 12 years since Don Briggs, University of Northern Iowa professor and an avid climber received permission to ice the town grain silos and and transform them into climbing walls. Though his initial idea was to use the silos for rock climbing, Briggs decided to cover the structures with sheets of ice. In below-zero temperatures the water running down the wall drips and freezes to form giant ice curtains that are perfect for climbing. Each time water is added, the shape of the ice evolves. Depending on how fast the water froze and which direction the wind was blowing the silos can be transformed into various shapes. Over the years Briggs has developed an optimal system for covering the silos with ice and providing a fun and beautiful climbing surface for both beginners and experienced ice climbers.
Photos © Solo Ice Climbing