Sandstone, Minnesota Ice Climbing Trip

Updated: Nov 15, 2021


Sandstone Ice Climbing Trip 2016

We headed out from Winnipeg on a Friday afternoon, arriving late at night and setting up at the Days Inn in Hinckley. The next morning, we loaded up on continental breakfast and headed some 20 kms north to Sandstone.

“Where are the Canadians?”, we overheard a couple of times as we arrived and were getting ready to climb. This confused us. How did they know??? A woman named Cecilia approached us and started chatting to us. After some brief introductions she exclaimed, “So YOU’RE the Canadians!”. Apparently we were famous. Unbeknownst to us, the local ice climbing community had been eagerly following our facebook event page and spreading the word of our arrival. Within half an hour, we had met Cecilia, Peter (of the unofficially named “Peter fest” fame, a local ice climbing fundraiser for the area), Tony, and the rest of the crew. I couldn’t get over how friendly the local community was. We were immediately led by Cecilia to the access route, and shown around.


At the top of the Robinson Quarry Ice Park cliff with our new friends showing us “the ropes”.

Checking out anchors at the top of the cliff

From the access route on the far north side, you walk along the edge of the cliff, sometimes nail-bitingly close to the edge (crampons are recommended) for some 30 m. (full disclosure- I am NOT a mountaineer, and hiking up to the access route with crampons was like learning to walk all over again, awkwardly and without grace). Shortly after the path starts to wander away from the cliff, you veer left to a set of wooden stairs that lead you back towards the cliff for another 15 m. Above the path, you there is now a second little cliff with intermittent bolts- frequently you will use the bolt above you and a tree below you to set up your anchor. Even though you can’t see the lines of ice from the top, you can usually assume there is some kind of good line below based on the presence of a bolt anchor. As you head further along the cliff, clumsily scrambling over and under anchor webbing all the while trying not to trip over your own moonboots (see full disclosure above), the cliff eventually veers left and then right again, and you come to a step ladder with access to the lines on the graffiti wall directly in front of the parking area and communal fire pit. Getting to these routes is not for the faint of heart! Just before the ladder leading up to this area is a rappel anchor beautifully and thoughtfully placed so you don’t have to hike all the way back down (very few if any of the routes are anchored for top-out).

On Saturday, after a late start, dawdling around meeting everyone, and getting our bearings, we didn’t manage to set up many lines. By the graciousness of the locals however, we did manage to get on a few extra routes via other climber’s ropes already set up. The beauty with the routes was that there was always a variation yo

Rappelling at the exit route

Happy bunch of ice climbers

For more information on the Robinson Quarry Ice Park, go to: http://sandstoneicefest.com/index.php/ice-park-access

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