Guide To Ice Climbing Near Washington DC

December 15, 2012 8:00 AM

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

When the weather outside is frightful, forget staying indoors with a warm mug of hot cocoa. Grab your ice pick, helmet and outdoor winter gear and head on over to one of these best places to ice climb near D.C. Even if you’re new to ice climbing, there’s a three-day introductory ice climbing seminar with your name all over it.

Crabtree Falls
11581 Crabtree Falls Highway
Montebello, VA 24464
(540) 291-2188

Price: $3 per car

Located in the George Washington National Forest near the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, Crabtree Falls is known to be home to one of the tallest cascading waterfall on the East Coast. Standing at more than 1,000 feet tall, the falls make for a great ice-climbing destination during the winter months.  With the right conditions, ice climbers may choose to climb a variety of frozen cascades including one that measures a drop of 400 feet. The frozen cascades are much smaller toward the base of the falls. Crabtree Falls also features a variety of hiking trails, overlooks and a gorgeous view of the Tye River Valley.

Earth Treks
7125-C Columbia Gateway Drive
Columbia, MD 21046
(410) 872-0060

Learn how to use ice climbing equipment, ice protection and safety in the Introduction to ice climbing three-day seminar. This introductory class takes place in the Adirondacks near Lake Placid and provides the instruction and skills used to climb ice using the top-rope technique. The seminar also covers an informative session regarding climbing gear, how to stay warm in a cold environment and plenty of practice time on the ice. Afterward, the group will meet up at area eateries and restaurants to enjoy a warm meal and share ice-climbing war stories. Earth Treks in Columbia also offers an indoor rock-climbing gym.

Related: Best Adult Hockey Leagues in the D.C. Area

White Oak Canyon
3655 US Highway 211
East Luray, VA 22835
(540) 999-3500

Price: $10 per car

Shenandoah National Park is world famous for its picturesque Skyline Drive, gorgeous vistas and mountain views and spectacular cascading waterfalls. White Oak Canyon, located between the Crescent Rock and Thorofare Mountain overlooks, features six waterfalls that range between 35 and 86 feet tall, perfect for beginner and intermediate ice climbers. Use extreme caution when navigating around the bottom of the falls, as they are known to be used as swimming holes during the summer months and thus may contain thin ice during the winter. White Oak Canyon also features round trip and circuit hiking trails.

Hudson Trail Outfitters
4530 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20016
(202) 363-9810

Whether you’re looking for gear to keep you warm or the perfect holster for your tools, Hudson Trail Outfitters has you covered. Known as the active outdoor specialist, the shop provides everything you need for your ice climbing expedition including ice picks, slider leashes, helmets, ropes, crampon straps and laser sonic screws. Hudson Trail Outfitters also features men’s and women’s outerwear and footwear, lanterns, camping gear, snow sport accessories, kids gear and survival/first aid equipment.

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New River Gorge
104 Main St.
Glen Jean, WV 25846
(304) 465-0508

Price: No charge for parking

In the warmer months, New River Gorge is known for its variety of rock-climbing surfaces, whitewater rafting, camp sites and hiking trails. The park is also home to Cathedral Falls, the highest waterfall in West Virginia. Long Point at Summersville Lake is another popular option near the gorge. Climb the frozen waterfall or venture around the nearby crags, boulders and cliffs. Stop by the Visitor Center to pick up maps, or drive across the river via the New River Gorge Bridge, the most scenic and photographed destination in West Virginia.

Susan Diranian is a freelance writer living in Ashburn, VA. She is covering Travel & Outdoors. Her work can be found at

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