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Pretty slick: Renowned ice climber scales frozen Frankfort silo

Will Gadd ascends 35-foot Nice Ice Ice Climbing Silo Saturday Frankfort.  | Ginger Brashinger~For Sun-Times Media

Will Gadd ascends the 35-foot Nice Ice Ice Climbing Silo on Saturday in Frankfort. | Ginger Brashinger~For Sun-Times Media

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If You go

For more information about the Nice Ice Ice Climbing Silo, call (708) 341-3255 or visit www.verticaladventure.org.

For more information about Will Gadd,
visit www.willgadd.com.

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Updated: April 13, 2014 6:10AM



Nice ice hasn’t been a problem this winter at the “Nice Ice” Ice Climbing Silo in rural Frankfort.

Joel Taylor, director and lead guide for Vertical Adventure Guides, and Mark Petnuch, veteran climber and climbing instructor, said this winter’s been good for the business of ice climbing.

“Last year we had about five meltdowns and rebuilds,” Petnuch said. “This year we’ve only had one.”

This winter’s frigid blessings —only two weeks out from spring — allowed the venue to host world-renowned ice climber Will Gadd at a hands-and-feet-on ice-climbing workshop Saturday. About a dozen hearty climbers took to thick ice covering a 35-foot silo at the farm of Frankfort dentist Ed Kirsch.

Gadd said he didn’t think he had ever, “climbed ice on a silo before,” but he was up for anything.

“I think this is pretty cool,” Gadd said. “It rates among the very highly unusual things I’ve climbed, but ice is ice.”

Gadd, who has run clinics all over the world, is known for his intrepid ice climbs both above and underground on all kinds of surfaces, including frozen waterfalls.

The Canadian-born climber, instructor and speaker is a four-time Canadian national climbing champion, among other accomplishments. He has been featured on television, including ABC’s Nightline and the Discovery Channel, and in movies and television ads.

Among Gadd’s workshop students were two female members of the Chicago Mountaineering Club, co-sponsor of the Gadd workshop.

Michelle Rich, 32, and Jenny Farrell, 23, both of Chicago, said they were new to ice climbing.

“I tried it once and I wasn’t sure,” Rich, who has been rock climbing for about five years, said. “I figured I’d give it another shot.”

Farrell, who said she was excited about attending a Gadd workshop, said she thinks women often feel that rock and ice climbing are not sports for women.

“A lot of girls are discouraged because they think that it’s not something they can do,” Farrell said. “A lot of it is self-inflicted limitation.”

Petnuch, 62, has been rock climbing since his early 20s, but he said he didn’t take up ice climbing until about five years ago. Petnuch said neither gender nor age should influence taking up the sport, even for a novice climber.

Gadd treated everyone as a novice, beginning his all-day workshop with the “basic building blocks” as he demonstrated correctly attaching gear before making two quick climbs to demonstrate both incorrect and correct technique.

“Be solid, be safe,” Gadd said.



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