Canadian first person to climb frozen Niagara Falls
Published Friday, January 30, 2015 6:21PM EST
A Canadian climber has become the first person to scale up an ice-covered Niagara Falls.
Will Gadd, 47, completed the frigid ascent earlier this week in approximately an hour after starting at the base of the Niagara Riverwith climbing partner Sarah Hueniken. They scaled along the northern-most point of the Horseshoe Falls, a route that runs near the U.S. border.
"It's one of the toughest things I've done in my life and one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen," Gadd told CTV Toronto on Friday.
The Canmore, Alta., native says at one point during his dangerous ascent, he was unsure if he would make it to the top.
"About a third up the way of the climb, my ice tools were covered in ice and I actually had to melt the iced tools with my hands," he said.
Gadd, however, is no stranger to dangerous climbs. In 2007, he rappelled deep down into a labyrinth of abandoned iron mines. Gadd described the incredible climb with partner Andreas Spak as "surreal" on his website.
He has also climbed other ice walls, including the 141-metre Helmcken Falls in British Columbia. Gadd gave that climb a difficulty level of WI10, "three grades higher than the world’s previous hardest ice climb."
Tuesday's climb up Niagara Falls also had its challenges. Approximately 150-tons of water flows over the majestic and powerful falls every minute at speeds of more than 110 kilometres per hour.
"You feel the power of Niagara Falls in your body. It thumps at you," Gadd said.
"You're right near the biggest waterfall in the world," added Hueniken. "It's roaring, not just in your ears, but you're feeling the spray constantly as you're climbing up the falls."
Gadd said at one point, he felt like he was climbing inside a cloud of mist and spray.
"I had the waterfall literally shooting right over my shoulder. I realized that moment was something nobody had ever experienced and may never experience again."
Gadd celebrated the ascent with a tweet he shared on Thursday.
A couple of days ago, I had an improbable wild dream come true thanks to an amazing team of people who believed... http://t.co/9NKU5ZO4th— Will Gadd (@Gilwad) January 29, 2015
It took approximately eight months for Gadd and Huekinen to secure a permit to scale the Niagara Falls.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Zuraidah Alman