Winona Ice Park attracts locals and visitors

Winona’s ice climbing park made the pages of the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer Magazine. a publication of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Ryan Rogers, author of the article, visited the Winona Ice Park which is one of three in Minnesota, and witnessed ice climbing firsthand. The park is located nearby the iconic Sugar Loaf Bluff and the wall of ice measures 1,500 feet wide and close to 100 feet tall. Local residents like WSU student Sydney Benson drove to the park after finishing a class and “hiked up a switch-backing trail through bare deciduous woods until reaching the ice-crusted palisades of the Winona Ice Park.” Benson and a friend made their way up the wall by picking, kicking, and “slamming their axes” into the ice. Out of town visitors come from the Twin Cities, Madison and Chicago to Winona climb on the weekends.

“Winona and Sandstone each regularly attract 40 to 80 climbers on weekend days.” Eric Barnard, founder of the ice park, comes to the park on weekends prior to visitors showing up to remove hazardous icicles that may be dangerous for climbers.

“As I take a last look from the highway below, the icy cliffs that were bare in the morning are speckled by a smattering of tiny figures, silhouettes in the shadow of the bluff, locals getting a leg up on the weekend crowds.”

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