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Boston Area's Best Ice Climbing Expeditions

Outdoor rock climbing is not for the faint of heart. Add ice to the mix, and the ante goes up considerably. However, with proper instruction, equipment and a trusted climbing partner, you too may take part in this late fall and winter sport.

If you are new to the sport, start first with a training class or a series of classes, which are offered regularly throughout the season. After getting your ice picks wet, start locally and visit these icy area rocks. More than anything else, your personal safety is paramount. Only select tours and locations that are appropriate for your skill level, and always climb with a partner.

(Photo Credit: EMS)

Eastern Mountain Sports
(800) 310-4504

Click here for schedules and pricing.

If you are new to ice climbing, your adventure should begin with a solid introduction to the basics. Eastern Mountain Sports offers a day-long ice climbing and mountaineering course perfect for beginners. In this course, you will learn about climbing basics, tool usage and, most importantly, safety. The nearest training locations are West Hartford, Connecticut and North Conway, N.H. Classes start early, so you may wish to make your experience an overnight trip. Prices include equipment rentals. Climbers are expected to bring their own food and water, and to dress appropriately an outdoor adventure. There are additional climbing courses available should you wish to continue climbing after your first experience.

(Photo Credit: REI)

REI Adventures
(800) 622-2236

Click here for schedules and pricing.

If you would like your ice climbing experience to last longer than a few hours, consider booking an REI Adventure. Learn how to climb in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in REI's Ice Climbing Basics class. Your weekend getaway will include instruction, day-long climbs and overnight accommodations. Price includes instruction, equipment, accommodations and breakfast. Due to the duration, take note that this adventure is physically demanding. Attendees are encouraged to dress properly, pack snacks and take breaks as needed. After taking the introductory course, you may wish to pursue additional courses for intermediate and advanced climbers.

RelatedIndoor Rock Climbing with MetroRock Rock Climbing Center

Ice climbing
(Photo credit: JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP/Getty Images)

Cascade Rock at Middlesex Fells
Stoneham, Melrose, Malden, Medford and Winchester, MA

Click here for a system map.

After taking a basic climbing course, try your picks and boots at Cascade Rock within the Middlesex Fells. Less than a 30-minute drive from Boston, the Middlesex Fells offers nearly 2,600 acres for outdoor recreation and activities, including ice climbing. While many experienced climbers may choose to head north, Cascade Rock (located in the eastern portion of the park in Malden) is a good place for beginners looking to climb after taking a course. Before visiting, consult the website for trail maps and park rules and regulations.

Ice climbing
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Auburn Ice Canyon
Auburn, MA
Location: 42.212976,-71.813335

Another good location for beginning ice climbers is the Auburn Ice Canyon in western Massachusetts. Located off of Route 20 in Auburn, the Auburn Ice Canyon (also called the Ice Box Canyon), is part of a long creek with naturally steep sides. It is about a half mile walk from Route 20 near the shopping area that includes Subway and Price Chopper. Park near the Gift Chalet. The canyon is accessible through a path at the end of the parking lot. If you are unsure where to park, consult business owners to determine appropriate areas. While the Auburn Ice Canyon is on public property, parking and the walk to the canyon itself are located on private property. If you choose to visit this location, be respectful of local businesses.

Related: Best Hiking Spots Around Boston

(Photo credit: Sangay Sherpa/AFP/GettyImages)
Champney Falls at White Mountain National Forest
Kancamagus Highway (Route 112)
North Conway, NH

After taking lessons and trying your climbing skills at the two Massachusetts locations mentioned above, you may be ready to take your climbing experience to the next level. Champney Falls, an ice box canyon that is part of the larger Mount Washington Valley in North Conway, is a popular site both for climbing schools and skilled climbers. The Mount Washington Valley area is a hot bed for ice climbers, and an annual ice climbing festival is also held here. The Falls produce large ice pillars that are perfect for climbing. Champney Falls is about a three-hour drive from Boston. Drive west on Route 112 from Conway and follow highway signs.

Cristy is a city dwelling enthusiast, an arts, culture, and technology lover, and an all around curious person. As an examiner, she covers all things Boston. Her work can be found on

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