Climbing the Waterfall

Will the Ice Suffice?

Story and Photos by Mark Weber

The sheer rock walls of the Snake River Canyon are laced with sinewy waterfalls during temperate months, but with the onset of winter and plummeting temperatures, these delicate cascades freeze. Taking on the form of veined curtains of glass and columns of crystal, this transient world becomes a frozen palace where the ice climber reigns.

For more than two decades I have sought out the bizarre adventures of this fragile kingdom, and I’m not alone in pursuit of it. Other climbers also have been visiting these ice formations for years, and these days I often am accompanied by my son Elijah and various friends, such as longtime climber David Weber, to whom I’m not related except in our passion for climbing ice.

“Ice climbing? It looks crazy to me. Too dangerous. No offense, but I think you are truly insane.”

How many times have I heard that argument from casual observers? And on some level I have to agree.

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