Ice Factor Delay Reopening
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Extensive fire damage forces operator of Ice Factor Kinlochleven to delay reopening…
The owner of Ice Factor Kinlochleven, opened in 2003 as the world’s largest indoor ice climbing facility has today (3 August) confirmed that the £3.4 million facility will remain closed until at least the end of August as a result of a fire last Wednesday (29 July).
A detailed inspection by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Investigation Team (Aberdeen) on Friday (31 July) concluded the fire was accidental and caused by the failure of an element within the sauna area of the building.
The sauna area was completely destroyed in the subsequent fire that saw over 80 people safely evacuated and the attendance of fire appliances from Kinlochleven, Fort William and Oban.
While damage assessments are still ongoing, the operator expects that the cost of rectifying the damage caused by the fire will run into tens of thousands and possibly hundreds of thousands of pounds.
July and August are key trading months for what is one of Scotland’s top adventure tourism attractions. Over the past five days, Ice Factor staff had made a herculean effort to try and reopen part of the west highland facility that includes the National Ice Climbing Centre.
However, though the structure of the 119 year-old building (a former Victorian aluminium smelter) survived intact, extensive smoke damage throughout the facility has forced the operator to delay reopening for at least a month.
Jamie Smith, owner and managing director of Ice Factor Kinlochleven, explained: “Despite a massive team effort to try and get at least part of Ice Factor operational just days after the fire, it is now clear that extensive smoke damage, including to the ice climbing walls means we must remain closed for at least the next four weeks.
“Until the fire last Wednesday afternoon, Ice Factor was on course for a record year having already welcomed over 162,000 visitors of all ages and ability who come from all over the UK and abroad to experience and enjoy ice climbing, rock climbing and the aerial adventure course.
Unfortunately, the damage incurred means that even all 125 climbing routes must be stripped down and replaced.
“I’d like to thank the many people who have offered assistance over the past few days and apologise to our many loyal customers, including members of Scotland’s Mountain Rescue teams who use the facility to train, for the inconvenience this incident has caused. We will now wholly focus on rectifying the damage and ensuring Ice Factor Kinlochleven is once again open for business at the earliest opportunity.”
Ice Factor Kinlochleven is part of Ice Factor International that also operates Snow Factor Braehead to the west of Glasgow. That facility gives skiers and snowboarders of all ages and ability the chance to enjoy snow sports year round on the UK’s largest indoor real snow slope and adjacent to which climbers can learn and practice on 12 metre high ice climbing walls.