As the days get shorter, the onset of winter brings with it the cold temperatures needed to get the ice growing—providing us with spectacular and exciting climbing. Many people not only find it a great way to enjoy the cold, but also a great way to stay in shape.
We spoke to Marty Molitoris, owner of Alpine Endeavors, providing rock and ice climbing instruction for all abilities, from basic ice climbing skills and steep ice and mixed techniques to leading. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced ice climber, there’s a face that is perfect for you. Alpine Endeavors can supply all the required technical climbing equipment.
Molitoris started climbing at 15 years old. He was working in an outdoor store and got into a division of the Boy Scouts called the Explorer Scouts in Pennsylvania. After climbing the Gunks on a trip for the first time in 1990, he was hooked. After that Molitoris took that two-hour drive anytime he’d get a chance.
The cliffs here are just awesome and the climbing is spectacular. The cliffs are a good height, there’s a lot of exposure, and there are exceptional routes of all grades.
In 1995 Molitoris started guiding and moved to the area. The first time he saw someone ice climbing he thought it was so cool. “Such wicked gear,” he said. “Boots with big spikes, crazy picks…” When asked about the lure of ice climbing, Molitoris responded, “Being out there in the winter is really great. It’s so silent and peaceful, and it’s always changing. And the idea of climbing on frozen water is really exciting. Pieces of ice can fall around you. You have to take many things into consideration when climbing ice. You have to learn to read the ice. We pay attention to the thickness, the formation, and the color or blueness of the ice.”
Top ropes are connected to trees or ice. And the ice screws can hold up to 4,000 pounds of weight. A favorite local spot of Molitoris is the Black Chasm of the Devil’s Kitchen.
It’s really a great sport, but people can get easily intimidated. It’s like skiing where there are different levels of difficulty. You can take a beginner, intermediate, black diamond, or double diamond depending on your skill level. It’s the same with ice climbing.
When you go out on a climb with Alpine Endeavors, they get you all set up and select a climb that’s appropriate to your needs. Alpine Endeavors offers professional climbing instruction and guiding to climbers of all ability levels for rock climbing, ice climbing, alpine climbing, and mountaineering. They also offer guided hikes and snowshoe outings in our local areas, navigation skills, team building events, and wilderness medical courses. If you are interested in doing a specific climb, or looking to improve your technical skills, climbing ability, or general outdoor wilderness skills, Alpine Endeavors can help you reach your goals. For more info go to alpineendeavors.com