IMG_0321 (Large)I’ve seen way too much Sex and the City. I never imagined our recent trip to New York would include a day of ice climbing in a beautiful gorge. I met John Udall and he mentioned he loves ice climbing and would be willing to take us to one of his favorite places. This was a dream come true for me because due to other amazing adventures planned this winter, I would miss my two favorite winter festivals: Freezefest and Icefest. He had New Year’s Eve off from his job at an outdoor recreation store in Ithaca, New York, so we made plans to spend that day hanging in the air and chipping away at a wall of ice.

IMG_0263 (Large)Freezefest is a winter canyoneering event which takes place around New Year’s Day. We swim in icy water, rappel snowy slots and suffer in the cold. It’s an amazing time with great friends, regardless of the conditions. Icefest is an ice climbing fest in Ouray, Colorado where gear makers allow climbers to demo clothing and gear while ice climbing in easily accessible canyons with fantastic ice. Both these fests have been the highlights of my winter adventures during the last few years. Of course, no one needs to feel sorry for me that I’m not getting enough adventure…but I felt sad to miss these fests this winter.

Then I met John Udall, Brian’s former scoutmaster who he hadn’t seen in a decade. He offered to take Brian and I ice climbing in upstate New York at Tinker Falls. He also offered to supply all the gear, drive, and even bought me breakfast at Dunkin Donuts, too! John is the best. He did a really good job of selecting a suitable climbing area early in the season, evaluating the ice, setting up the anchor, demonstrating some techniques and helping to keep us warm and safe.

IMG_0236 (Large)We drove to Tinker Falls and hiked a quarter mile to the climb. The approach was a little sporty with a creek crossing on a snowy log and some side hill hiking on a shallow layer of snow at a steep angle. We arrived at the climb and admired the setting in a gorge deep in the middle of a hardwood forest. Snowflakes swirled around in a gray sky. A small waterfall poured over a wide, curved lip of shale and sharp white icicles, creating a swirl of ice formations at the bottom. A tiered wall with glassy ice and more icicles had been created by a small seep to the side of the waterfall. Later in the season, the waterfall turns into a thick, freestanding, vertical pillar, but today we would just climb the frozen seep.

IMG_0343 (Large)Ice climbing season is just beginning in New York and the seep of ice was less than a foot thick, but in great shape and our crampons and ice axes just sunk right into it. We stayed all day and did many laps on the 25 foot tall, vertical wall before it was time to go back to a hot shower and a New Year’s feast of prime rib, shrimp, oysters and champagne. This was the best way to end a day of adventure. It was a great day out. Thanks so much, John!


Lisa Hackett

About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, drive from Idaho to Alaska solo, live and work in a van in the wilderness and dodge encounters with wolves and bears. Seriously. More

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van and on a sailboat with my superhero husband, Brian. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, scuba dive with sharks, dodge encounters with bears and wolves, and work remotely as a full time computer programmer.
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About the Van

Hi, I’m Vanifest. I’m a big, 4x4, off-the-grid van complete with solar panel for power. I'm a 2000 Dodge Ram Van and Lisa has had me since 2009. Read more about me here.


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