New York Times: Explorer – Ice Climbing in Ontario

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In Thin Air, Making a Mark In the Ice

ON a snowy December morning, 15 miles inland from the icy east shore of Lake Superior, in the hills beyond the tiny town of Batchawana Bay, Ontario, a 52-year-old climber from Michigan was perched and hesitating on the face of a frozen waterfall.

A foot of fresh snow covered the forest floor below; a line of deep boot tracks led to the base of the cliff. Ice creaked and crumbled underfoot as the climber, Doug Furdock, kicked to reset his spiked mountaineering boots. Shards and small white pebbles of ice exploded as he swung an ax into the frozen vertical wall.

“Get your ax solid in the ice,” said Shaun Parent, a local guide who stood 20 feet below, holding a yellow climbing rope, belaying Mr. Furdock up the three-story-high formation. Thousands of tiny ice chunks, like shattered glass, littered the ground. “Get your left foot up onto that ledge.”

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