Ice Factor: The National Centre for Ice Climbing and the UK’s Premier Mountain Activity Centre
Since opening in 2003, Ice Factor Kinlochleven has become synonymous with action packed adventure and family fun.
A day out here is about living life more adventurously, having fun with friends and family and getting in touch with your inner chimp! Challenge yourself, you will be surprised just how far and how high you can go when our expert instructors coach you.
Whether you’re a gnarly, experienced mountaineer, a foot weary walker off the West Highland Way, a youth group, stag or hen party, or family and friends looking for an amazing day out, Ice Factor is the perfect place to have fun as you practice, train and learn every conceivable mountaineering skill. Or you may simply choose to kick back in Chillers Bar & Grill!
Home of the Biggest Indoor Ice Climbing arena in the World! and with an average of 130,000 annual visitors, we’ve probably introduced more people to the thrill of ice climbing than anywhere on the planet.
Little wonder Ice Factor ranks amongst the Top 5 visitor attractions in the Highlands of Scotland (source: Visit Scotland Tourism Monitor 2007) and is now a must visit attraction for any visitor to the picturesque West Highlands.
At Ice Factor our vision and daily mission is to make adventure sports universally accessible and fun you may say the democratization of adventure! So, part of our giant indoor (partly frozen) toy box includes the world’s biggest indoor ice climbing wall, the UK’s highest/articulated overhanging rock climbing wall and a world class dedicated teaching and instruction facility.
Whether a regular visitor or experiencing our world class facility for the first time, our highly qualified and incredible staff are on hand 7 days a week to teach you the core skills and to ensure your safety.
Today, we are one of the biggest Outdoor Mountaineering Course Providers in the UK.
We’ve also augmented our exceptional indoor rock climbing training and instructor facility, built a new bouldering area (rated by Scottish rock climbing icon, Dave MacLeod, as the best bouldering wall in the UK), added the awesome (and adrenaline pumping) outdoor aerial adventure course, expanded our shop and increased our cafe, bar and grill.
It’s all part of our journey to become the world’s favourite indoor (and outdoor) adventure centre.
And at Ice Factor Kinlochleven, we never forget our business is all about YOU!
So if you want a family, fun-filled adventure break and / or to learn / improve your mountaineering skills, we look forward to giving you a warm welcome to Ice Factor the coolest location in the Scottish highlands!
PLEASE NOTE ICE FACTOR CAN BE EXTREMELY BUSY ESPECIALLY DURING WET DAYS, WEEKENDS AND HOLIDAYS – PLEASE AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT AND PRE BOOK.
Built at a cost of £3.5 million, Ice Factor Kinlochleven is the world’s largest indoor ice-climbing facility.
One of Scotland’s busiest adventure sport tourist attractions, the highlight for visitors is it’s 15metre high indoor ice wall. Encrusted with over 500 tonnes of snow and neve that replicates outdoor ice-climbing conditions, beginners and experts alike can experience 1400m2 of varying ice climbing routes- from easier angled snow slopes to monster overhangs.
Ice Factor is also home to the UK’s largest (6m overhang) articulated overhanging rock wall. Find out more here.
Aerial Assault Course
You can also test your mettle outside on the 250 metre long Aerial Assault Course. An adrenaline pumping 15 metres off the ground, includes a 50 metre rope swing! Find out more here.
Ice Factor also offers the more adventurous the ability to hone their skills in the Great Outdoors, with guides and instructors that can take you on a guided walk, or even a vertical ice climb! Find out more here.
Who is it for?
While Ice Factor’s routes hold obvious appeal to the hard core ice-climbing fraternity, it also offers a unique experience for beginners, families as well as stag and hen parties who are looking to try something new, whatever the time of year and weather outside!
Full instruction and supervision is provided by highly experience, passionate instructors.
Whether scaling the heights, treating yourself in the shop, relaxing in the steam and sauna, or enjoying real ale in our bar, Ice Factor has something for everyone, young and old.
Do I need any experience?
No! Ice Factor has instructed classes for total beginners. You don’t need any previous skills to join one of our instructed activities, just a sense of fun and adventure.
Do I need special equipment?
We provide all the equipment you need. You should bring warm clothing with you and wear fairly tight fighting clothing with waterproofs. If you don’t have these items you can hire them for a small charge.
Is there an age limit?
Children below the age of 7 can do a Little Monkey’s rock taster which lasts 30 minutes and can use our Soft Play Facility.
Children over the age of 8 can usually join Rock Climbing sessions and the Giant Swing.
Braver Children over the age of 10 can usually join the Aerial Adventure Course and the Giant Swing.
Ice Climbing Sessions are usually for 12 year olds and upwards. Minimum Boot Size Adult 5.
When was Ice Factor founded and by whom?
Ice Factor opened in December 2003.
Housed in a former Victorian era aluminium smelter, Ice Factor was the brainchild of Jamie Smith – a mountaineer and entrepreneur, who in the course of creating his vision to bring Scotland’s outdoors, indoors, flew over to Brussels to personally and successfully lobby 30 MEP’s to support his plans for Ice Factor.
How successful is Ice Factor?
The world’s largest indoor ice-climbing facility has already attracted over 130,000 visitors of all ages. Its unique appeal as one of Scotland’s leading adventure attractions has been recognised by a string of awards including Visit Scotland 4 star attraction status, as well as a visit from Her Majesty The Queen.
Its appeal is also recognised by fellow outdoor professionals and skilled volunteers. Scottish Mountain rescue teams regularly use the facility to practise their skills and HM Armed Forces/ outdoor mountaineering course providers use Ice Factor to train groups on the rock and ice walls.
Ice Factor… In the words of an expert!
“Ice Factor is your one and only opportunity to experience what Ice climbing really feels like without waiting ages for the right weather, walking miles up snowy mountains, or serving your apprenticeship in winter mountaineering skills. You just step in a big fridge and start swinging some ice tools. Some folk will just want to try it for fun, some will want to use it to fine tune their ice climbing technique, some will train for the ice climbing world cup – doesn’t matter. The point is you clock up the metres on real ice without the normal hassles of winter mountaineering”
Dave MacLeod is a Scottish world class rock-climber and regular visitor to Ice Factor.
The Building’s History.
In response to the rapid growth in demand for metal, British Aluminium started work (under the direction of it’s subsidiary the North British Aluminium Company Ltd.) on an ambitious hydro scheme, generating station, factory complex and company settlement at the head of Loch Leven in 1904.
This immense scheme took 5 years to be fully completed with full production being reached in 1909 ( small quantities of aluminium were produced at a temporary factory further up the glen from 1907).
The scheme also included the Blackwater dam (which remained the largest volume capacity dam in the UK until the 1950’s) and a company village of Kinlochleven.
By 1911, one third of the world output of the primary metal was produced in the west highlands. This metal was transported by sea and then land to the company’s semi fabrication plants in England.
In it’s heyday the Aluminium works in Kinlochleven employed some 1050 people.
Kinlochleven was the first place in the UK where every house had electricity, even before the Houses of Parliament. The village still produces electricity in the power house for distribution to the national grid and ops in Fort William.
The Smelter closed in 1996 due to foreign competition.
Despite efforts by multi-disciplinary agencies the negative impact of closure was profound, leading directly to the loss of many secondary level employers, haulage companies, hotels, village stores, cinema, shoe shops etc.
The post industrial legacy: Kinlochleven was left with a largely utilitarian aspect with rows of houses more akin to Sheffield than the west highlands. However, much has been done over the years to remove the worst excesses of 100 years of heavy engineering. Kinlochleven was listed by Friends of The Earth as one of the most heavily polluted spots in the British Isles.
Ice Factor, received the Green Apple award for the work done to secure funding for improved decontamination of this site.
Kinlochleven was the setting for the novel “Children of the Dead End” by Patrick McGill. A harrowing tale of the conditions of work at the dam construction site for the thousands of itinerant workers. There is still a cemetery at the Dam, (1.5hours walk from here).
From Ice to Snow…
Jamie Smith has since built on the success of Ice Factor. In December 2011, his company Ice Factor International acquired SNO! Zone Braehead to the west of Glasgow. This facility incorporates the UK’s longest indoor piste at 200metres it is now branded Snow Factor Braehead.
In 2012, Snow Factor International invested £1million to further upgrade what is Scotland’s newest snow sports destination. Featuring over 1500 tonnes of real snow, the “resort” now includes a snow-link from piste to the Bavarian styled Bar Varia, windows overlooking the River Clyde, the introduction of a permanent freestyle park and a pool of highly qualified (BASI) ski and snowboard instructors.
Summer 2013 brought the launch of our second indoor ice wall at the foot of the indoor ski slope.
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