Braehead Ice Wall Opening
Braehead Snow Factor's brand new ice wall opened its frozen doors for the first time last week, and our climbing expert Craig McMillan was lucky enough to be treated to a sneak preview!
Here's what he had to say:
"After much anticipation and watching the progress of this giant indoor ice climbing wall being built, it was finally time to climb.
"On Wednesday May 29th I took a walk up to the snow slope at Xscape Braehead, Glasgow on my lunch to look at how the wall was coming along, it looked finished. As I was leaving to go back to the store I was approached by Jamie smith, who I now know to be the man who founded, designed, and is the Managing Director of the ice wall. He asked how I thought it looked, of course I said it looked great and that I was really looking forward to trying it out. Jamie then asked if I was busy on Thursday night. Thankfully I wasn’t because he very kindly invited me along to the launch night of the wall to have a climb.
"Before I tell you how that went let me try and sum up the scale of this facility. The wall itself sits inside the snow factor slope which allows for a very dry cold atmosphere. It is built using galvanised steel, over which is laid a mesh of glycol coolant pipes so the wall is also cooled from behind. Two layers of steel mesh are then laid over the structure and packed with hard glacial type ice. On top of this a layer of water ice and neve are added , then another metal grid to protect the ice. Onto this is packed the sacrificial climbing surface which is then soaked and the water atomised at high pressure to create fresh snow. This creates a very impressive 14m high wall which weighs over 300 tonnes.
"After a frantic search the night before to find all my winter kit and attaching new front points to my crampons there was nothing else for it but to get on this new wall. As you approach the wall the shear scale of it is very impressive. There are over forty top ropes with slabs, arêtes, gully corners and an overhanging dry tooling wall to get your teeth into. I wasn’t sure were to start. With Jim from DMM belaying me all night, I started on one of the slabs and was immediately impressed with the quality of the ice. After going up the slab a couple of times to get back into the swing of using winter tools again it was time to move onto something steeper. I climbed one of the vertical walls, but felt my forearms getting pumped, so I decided to leave the overhang for another time. Through the course of the night I had the chance to use the different ice axes that DMM have to offer, which was greatly beneficial as we sell them in the store.
"Everyone that was there had a fantastic night - I am very pleased and grateful to have been a part of the launch and would like to thank the Snow Factor team. I would definitely urge everyone to go and try out this ice wall, you will love it. It is a great way to keep your skills up to date and to improve on them, or if you haven’t done any ice climbing before there is no better place to start learning as you can hire all the kit you need if you don’t have your own.
"I will definitely be back on a regular basis!"
Click here for more information about Braehead Snow Factor's ice wall.