Shoshone National Forest

Commercially guided ice climbing trips available in Shoshone National Forest's Wapiti District

December 20, 2011, 7:50 am

Region Home to Largest Concentration of Frozen Falls in Lower 48

Commercially guided ice climbing will make its debut in Shoshone National Forest outside of Cody, Wyo. this winter as the National Forest Service has issued the first two permits to outfitters to lead ice-climbing trips.

Jackson Hole Mountain Guides from Jackson, Wyo. and Southwest Adventure Guides of Durango, Colo. recently received permits the Forest Service’s Wapiti Ranger District to conduct ice-climbing from Nov. 1 through April 1 each year.

“The region surrounding the South Fork of the Shoshone River has the largest concentration of frozen waterfalls in the continental United States,” said Kenny Gasch, Cody resident and ice climbing and mountaineering guide for Jackson Hole Mountain Guides.

The region is comprised of porous volcanic soil that allows for easy water seepage. The mountains receive large amounts of snow that melts into a high number of drainages. These factors result in spring-fed waterfalls that are constantly regenerating themselves and freezing into high-quality ice climbs. Climbers are still discovering new waterfalls in the region, and some have made dozens of “first ascents” over the past few years.

In addition to number of high-quality waterfalls in the area, climbers enjoy the relative seclusion of the climbs. “If I arrive at a climb and someone else is already there, it’s easy to just move on to another that is just as good,” said Gasch.

Ice climbers have been aware of this proliferation of world-class ice climbs for several years. The 14th annual Waterfall Ice Festival will be held Feb. 17-20, 2012.

January and February are peak times for ice climbing in the area, said Gasch. The permits allow for a 151-day season, however, because some of the falls are typically frozen by the beginning of November and stay that way through the end of March.

More information on Jackson Hole Mountain Guides is available at jhmg.com with information specific to ice climbing at jhmg.com/winter/ice/index.php. More information on Southwest Adventure Guides is available at mtnguide.net.

Potential climbers will also find the area is well-suited to accommodate their non-climbing needs. Because Yellowstone Country/Park County’s infrastructure was built around the summer tourists, there are plenty of hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues and retail operations. Other winter activities include cross-country and downhill skiing, snowmobiling, fishing and ice skating.

Yellowstone Country is comprised of the towns of Cody, Powell and Meeteetse as well as the valley east of Yellowstone National Park.

The area of Park County is called “Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country” because it was the playground of Buffalo Bill Cody himself. Buffalo Bill founded the town of Cody in 1896, and the entire region was driven and is still heavily influenced by the vision of the Colonel. Today its broad streets, world-class museum – Buffalo Bill Historical Center – and thriving western culture host more than 1 million visitors annually.

The Park County Travel Council website lists information about vacation packages, special events, guide services, weather and more. Travelers wishing to arrange vacation can also call the Park County Travel Council at 1-800-393-2639.