CLIMBING FROZEN WATERFALLS
At university I was donned with the nickname "Ice Queen" in the context of sporting competitions, which swiftly developed in to my sporting persona on and off the pitch. Lacrosse, netball, athletics - you name it, "Ice Queen" caught on and it was there to stay. Even to this day, over a decade after graduating, the name still resonates within my closer circle of friends.
It therefore comes as no great surprise, and with some amusing irony, that Ice Climbing as an activity has been high on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. It also comes as no great surprise that Austria, as an absolute mecca for sport, provided me with the opportunity to give it a go. After bribing my husband Chris with the promise of pizza and beer, I booked us in to a day course with a local mountain guide, to climb some frozen waterfalls in Kolm Saigurn - yes, you read that correctly, frozen waterfalls!
Kolm Saigurn in the Rauris valley is a personal favourite as a day trip destination from the Landhaus Bergner Alm chalet. In summer, the mountainous oasis closely resembles scenes from Jurassic Park with enchanting fern forests and dozens of cascading waterfalls. In winter, it transforms in to a breathtakingly beautiful winter wonderland, and those very same waterfalls turn in to cascading ice sculptures and a playground for ice-climbers.
On the day of our expedition, our guide Wolfgang, met us at 9am and completely kitted us out head to toe with the right gear - pick-axes, ice cramp -ons, climbing harnesses and helmets. We totally looked the part! We did a crash course on belaying and the safety precautions one must be mindful of when taking part in such extreme sports, and then with a pick-axe in either hand, off we went! We took it turns to hack away at the ice and clamber up the 50m frozen waterfall. It required strength, courage and determination. The blood was flowing, the adrenaline was pumping, and the Ice Queen was in her natural habitat.
We climbed and climbed for the entire day, until the sun started to set and the activity had to draw to a close. The end of the ice climbing that day though was by no means the end of ice climbing for us. It was such an incredible experience that we'll definitely do again, and can only recommend it as an activity to try whilst on holiday in Austria. If you're interested in ice climbing and finding out about what other sports are possible near our holiday chalet, take a look at our activities page here.