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Icefalls and ice climbing in the Czech Republic

photo:  (czechtourism.com)

Ice climbing is a special branch of rock climbing which lies in, as the name suggests, climbing exclusively icy massifs created either from waterfalls or water running in rocks. However, most locations offer a combination of ice surfaces and rocks.

List of best-known icefalls in the CR

Krkonoše Mountains
There is a large area of icy and snowy climbing locations in the Krkonoše Mountains, where climbing is prohibited due to the imminent danger of avalanches. The location called Labský dvůr, which offers the best terrains for ice climbing in Bohemia, is an exception and climbing is permitted there under the condition of precisely following the rules of the Krkonoše Mountains National Park Administration.

Jizera Mountains
The Jizera Mountains are another popular ice climbing area in the Czech Republic. Even though the icy terrains are no more than twenty-five metres high, it is possible to climb long into the spring due to the very cold local climate. Moreover, ice climbing is not especially restricted by the environmentalists. The best-known local icefalls include:
Oldřichov – granite mine with several icefalls. Twenty-metre ice columns are spread along vertical rock walls.
Velký Štolpich – it is a perfect training location for rock climbing beginners during cold winters. It is not very steep but it is possible to take a rest on large flat plains between the different levels and the entrance and exit from the icefall are easily accessible by tourist footbridges.
Černý potok – the largest waterfall of the Jizera Mountains. When it is cold enough during the winter, it freezes for some time, creating a ten-metre vertical icefall.

Lusatian Mountains and Bohemian Switzerland
The most attractive waterfalls from the touristic point of view include the icefalls called Břidličný vrch near Kytlice and Brtnické ledopády. Břidličný vrch is created by an icy wall in the forest. The ice usually lasts a very long time because it is located on the northern slope of Břidličný vrch.

Brtnické ledopády is rather more like a tourist attraction than a location for actual ice climbing. They are created by colourful icicles and ice cascades on the overhangs of rocks and small caves. These icefalls are not created as usual from frozen waterfalls but they are formed by water coming from snow melting at the end of the winter. The icefalls are not necessarily created every year because a balance of freezing weather and melting snow is required. When the water is flowing down from the rocks, it gathers soil and ferrous and siliceous sands, thus beautifully colouring the icefalls into shades of yellow, green, brown and even black colours.

Central Bohemian Uplands
There are many ten- to fifteen-metre high waterfalls, which freeze during winter in the area. These are again more like tourist attractions than terrains for sport climbing. Popular climbing sites include Stříbrná stěna in sand rocks near Hřensko and the Vrkoč icefall in the basalt formation near Ústí nad Labem, which is a sought-after ice-climbing terrain.

Prague and the surroundings
Barrandovský led – small icefall directly in Prague in a small mine at Zbraslavská Street near the Barrandov Rock.
Vrané nad Vltavou – relatively undemanding icefall near Vrané nad Vltavou, which is usually around 30 metres high with an inclination ranging from 45 to 55 degrees. It is 18 km from the centre of Prague. 
Mařenka – this icefall, created in a large chimney of an eighty-metre rock wall called Mařenka located between Slapy and Štěchovice, forms an ice chute between the rocks. In favourable conditions, the ice can reach a length of 40 metres. It is located about 42 kilometres from Prague.

Bohemian-Moravian Highlands
The highest icefall in the CR, called Vír, is located in this region. It is an artificially created ice wall below the Vírská Reservoir built on the Svratka River. Beginners as well as experienced ice-climbers will enjoy climbing this forty-metre rock. 

Jeseníky Mountains
The Jeseníky Mountains offer an attractive 20-metre long ice cascade with an inclination reaching 70° and two 8-metre icicles with an inclination up to 90°. They are located at the Vysoký vodopád, which lies about 3 km northwest of the mountain Praděd, at an altitude of 1,007 m. Ice-climbing is permitted from 1 November to 18 February.
Author: Romana Kuncová
Added: 06.01.2013

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