Will Gadd Climbs Frozen Niagara Falls

Gadd tops out on Niagara Falls; photo by Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool

Lots of people have gone over Niagara Falls. Quite a few have even walked across it on tightrope. But Will Gadd is probably the first person to climb UP the frozen falls, at least legally.

Gadd worked with the New York State Parks Department on a plan to climb the frozen falls safely, and said that the route would not have been possible during a warm winter.

Gadd tops out on Niagara Falls; photo by Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool

“I checked out the spot we were thinking of climbing in the summer,” Gadd said. “You’d be swept away by the torrential downpour then.” But this year’s cold winter slowed water flow, allowing climbable ice to form. “On a warm winter, there’s no climb here.”

The line – which sits on the American side of the Horseshoe section of Niagara, near what’s known as Terrapin Point – extends approximately 147 feet from bottom to top.

“The massive water flow constantly shakes the ground, and makes the ice shelves and walls around you unsteady and unpredictable,” Gadd told Red Bull Media after leading the route he graded WI6+.

Gadd climbs right next to the falls; photo by Greg Mionske/Red Bull Content Pool

Gadd said that getting soaked presented one of the biggest challenges.

“I was so close to the water, I could reach out and stick my ice tool in the Niagara Falls,” Gadd said. “At one point I was behind the water, climbing on ice that froze behind the falls. I got [a] whole lot of Niagara down my neck!”

Will Gadd; photo by Greg Mionske/Red Bull Content Pool

Sean McCoy

Editorial Director Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.

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