Guest Blogger, Shaun Parent: Shaun has developed rock and ice climbing areas in the North of Superior region since 1980, totaling more than 150 ice climbs. He has authored some 10 climbing guidebooks to the region, including his most well known guidebook, The North of Superior Orient Bay Ice Climber’s Guide. He has been called “The Pioneer of Rock and Ice Climbing in Northern Ontario”. Shaun runs the North of Superior Climbing Company from his office and B&B in Batchawana Bay.
Things have changed plenty since 1986 when ice climbing was just beginning in the Canyon. Orient Bay to the North was known as the climbing destination and climbers from the Midwest were flocking there on weekends due to the number of easily accessible routes. Agawa Canyon, unlike Orient Bay, is a winter camping destination for ice climbers. Most of them head into the Canyon during the annual Agawa Canyon Ice Festival held each March. 2012 celebrates the 14th anniversary of this occasion.
The Canyon hosts over 135 ice climbs and each year between mid-December and mid-April, ice formations hang off the 200 meter walls which cloak the east and west sides of the canyon. A 2nd Edition of the Agawa Canyon Ice Climbing Map was published in 2007.
The canyon is a 6 mile long north-south corridor between Miles 110 and 116 on the Algoma Central Railway which connects Sault Ste. Marie Ontario with Hearst Ontario at the end of the line at Mile 296. The line is used for hauling freight, but also has a passenger train service. One can catch the train northward from Sault Ste. Marie on Thursdays, Saturdays and Mondays while southward is caught on Fridays, Sundays & Tuesdays. The train ride is, on average a 4 hour journey to and from the Mile 112 campsite.
Want to try ice climbing for yourself? We’ve got this and more exciting Ontario outdoor adventures online.