Great State: Ice Climbing in OKC

Great State
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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA — It looks as though someone left a sprinkler on.

Maybe it’s a broken pipe.

Instead, what seems like an ice flow disaster to most casual observers actually serves up a unique opportunity for climbers like Aaron Gibson.

“It’s kind of wet in here,” he says while gearing up for an ice climb.

With a garden hose running 40 feet up, and a little chain link fencing to hold it to the walls of an old grain silo, all Gibson and his staff need is a long cold snap.

“We need to have al least 3 to 4 days,” says Gibson, who owns the silo and has turned it into the Rocktown Climbing Gym.

With the ice thick enough, they can climb their own waterfall.

Gibson says, “They way I explain ice climbing is that it’s kind of like climbing with knives. You’ve got these sharp points on the ends of your toes and these axes that are really sharp.”

Until a few days before, Seth Kerr had never climbed on ice.

We witnessed his second ever trip up Oklahoma’s only ice corridor.

He told us, “It’s a little bit easier in that you can choose where your holds are, but the idea that you’re just hanging off the ice is another mental factor because it can just snap off at any second.”

Ascending climbers send down a constant shower of frozen chunks.

They rise fighting a wicked current of gravity.

Gibson says, “Trust is relative to how good you are swinging the axe and how good the ice is.”

It’s wet and cold, but Gibson and a few other climbers would have to go to Colorado or even Canada to find a real frozen waterfall.

In a sheltered spot within a few blocks of downtown Oklahoma City they built their own with the hope that it lasts just a little longer.

“It’s good,” says Aaron. “We should have it for another 4 or 5 days.”

The Rocktown Gym is located just south of Bricktown in OKC.

For more information about ice climbing or just plain climbing go to

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