Top Spots To Ice Climb Near Philadelphia

December 15, 2012 7:00 AM

Adrenaline junkies suffer no shortage of thrills with ice climbing. Rock climbing itself is a dangerous challenge, but keeping the sport alive when the rocks become coated with ice means climbers have to learn how to navigate high-altitude, low-temp climbs. While Pennsylvania’s climate may not be the most suitable for ice climbing, these amazing areas are do-able for both beginners and experienced climbers looking for icy thrills.
Northeast Mountain Guiding
125 Half Mile Road, Suite 200
Red Bank, NJ 07701
(848) 468-6735

Price: $135 to $225 per person, depending on location

Ice climbing is an extreme sport that could cause serious injury, so it is best to take a lesson before attempting to scale any frozen peaks. Northeast Mountain Guiding offers courses several times a month during the season, as well as private guiding if you want extra attention. Northeast’s one-day introductory course covers safety precautions, basic ice climbing gear needed for climbing, how to move on the ice and how to position your body on the climb. The day will conclude by climbing a waterfall to practice what you’ve learned. Northeast also offers intermediate climbing courses.

Related: A Guide to Indoor Rock Climbing in Philadelphia

REI Conshohocken/Plymouth Meeting
200 W. Ridge Pike, Suite 115
Conshohocken, PA 19428
(610) 940-0809

Once the lessons are complete and you’re ready to go out on your first ice climbing excursion, you’ll want to suit up with the proper gear. REI provides extreme sports enthusiasts with top-brand gear and advice for finding the right gear for whatever outdoor adventure you’re participating in. REI also offers rentals so you can try before you buy, but its return policy (this place will take nearly anything back for members!) is what keeps climbers coming back time and again.

Related: Getaway Guide to Gettysburg

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
HQ River Road off of Route 209
Bushkill, PA 18324
(570) 588-2452

Price: free

Ice climbers will find the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area just 2.5 hours north of the city. This park offers a number of crevices and waterfalls that are great for ice climbing. Locations such as Slateford Falls, Pocono Cold Air Cave and the Flume will provide challenges for any level of ice climber. Explore a number of falls that ice over in the winter and thus become suitable for climbing. Guidebooks are available at the visitor center so climbers may check out all the awesome spots in this park.

Related: Top Indoor Tracks for Runners and Cyclists

Ricketts Glen State Park
695 State Route 487
Benton, PA 18656
(570) 477-5675

Price: free

Rickets Glen State Park sits just three hours from Philadelphia in Luzerne County and is worth the trip. At Ricketts Glen, ice climbing is an approved activity, and climbers receive up-to-the-minute ice conditions by contacting the office. Safety is a priority, and climbers must sign in and out of a logbook in the office. The park boasts 22 waterfalls and offers something for all levels of ice climbers.

Bucktail State Park
Emporium, PA 15834
(814) 486-3365

Price: free

A trip north, just beyond Lock Haven University, will provide ice climbers with some of the best ice. It’s about a five-hour drive from Philadelphia, so this would best be done as a weekend or multi-day trip. Bucktail State Park provides two great locations: Roadside Gully and Gemini Gullies. Thrilling pillars at Roadside Gully include Mixed Fun and Mixed Madness, which are moderate, fun climbs to undertake. Scumbag, Motorhead and Glass Menagerie are much more strenuous climbs and should only be undertaken by climbers with solid experience. Just past Roadside Gully, climbers will find Gemini Gullies. This area is a bit more difficult to get to but offers some great climbs suitable for beginners.

Related: Top Spots for Winter Fun in and Around Philadelphia

Maddie Wagner is a freelance writer covering all things Philadelphia. Her work can be found on