Starved Rock State Park – Ice Climbing Illinois

Starved Rock State Park, IL Ice Climbing

Within only an hour and a half drive of Chicago, Starved Rock State Park Ice Climbing is a unique treat to area climbers. When the Chicago winters work in our favor, there are opportunities to climb one of four canyons, Wildcat Canyon, Tonti Canyon, LaSalle Canyon, and Ottawa Canyon. Check with the park as these may change depending on circumstances. Generally these climbs are away from the lodge and the busier canyons but be careful when non-climbers are present and warn them about falling ice when you are climbing. Do not wear your crampons on the boardwalks and stay on the maintained trails! Always pack out trash (yours, and others)

Starved Rock State Park Ice Climbs

Ottawa Canyon

Ice Climbing Starved Rock Ottawa Canyon

Ottawa Canyon provides great ice climbing when the weather permits. It is usually one of the first to form fully and one of the fattest in colder winters! Park in the Ottawa Parking Lot located at river elevation and hike in using the trail to Ottawa Canyon. Top rope may be set off of the far trees, and it is a doable scramble up to the top along the far left ravine. Be aware you will need a long length of cordellette as the trees are far back. Using an ice screw as a directional for one of the rope ends helps you keep climbers out of the cascading water to the right of the climb. Always use professionally tested and rated brand name equipment.

If you are not an experienced climber, consider hiring a guide service or finding an experienced mentor to evaluate your safety. Climbing is dangerous with no room for error and cannot be learned simply by reading online and watching video tutorials. Learning the ropes with an experienced climber allows for a second look at your safety systems and is paramount to a safe climbing experience

LaSalle Canyon

Ice Climbing Illinois LaSalle Canyon

LaSalle Canyon offers a beautiful curtain of milder climbing. Experienced climbers can learn to lead climb on this fall as it is a manageable height and difficulty. Park at the LaSalle Parking lot and follow the designated trail. Do not use your crampons on the boardwalks or trails. Anchor will need to be set with ice screws as there aren’t any screws at the top, so place plenty of screws and make sure you know what you are doing.

Tonti Canyon

Ice Climbing Tonti Canyon Starved Rock

Tonti Canyon is 60 ft. ice climb at grade WI3 – 4. It is a definite fun climb to burn off all of that extra energy, all at once! The Tonti Canyon is located adjacent to the LaSalle Canyon. You will have to approach from the road to set anchor, or find the long way around!

Wildcat Canyon

Ice Climbing Starved Rock - Wildcat Canyon

Wildcat Canyon is the star ice climb at Starved Rock state park.  ROWRRR! The beast roars back – spraying icy fang and dripping wet jowels!! The climb is fed by a pretty active stream, so be sure to get on it while it is formed or melts away. One bad warm spell can wash away a lot of the fun parts of the climb. Wildcat is the tallest climb open to climbing in the park. You can easily set anchor dropping in from the boardwalk, always be careful and tether to trees while doing this! Safety first.

If you are not an experienced climber, always travel with a guide or take an anchor building class. Never jeapordize safety or take risks if you are unfamiliar with proper SAFE and EARNEST anchor techniques

Midwest Outside – Latest Ice Climbing Posts



Recommended Reading

Ice and Mixed Climbing by Will Gadd

How to Ice Climb by Craig Luebben

Nearby Opportunities

Governor Dodge Ice

Lone Rock, WI Ice

Winona, MN Ice

Devil’s Lake Rock Climbing

See Also:

Michigan Ice Climbing

Wyalusing Ice Climbing

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