N’ICE TO BE BACK!
THE WORLD’S LARGEST INDOOR ICE CLIMBING FACILITY REOPENS
It’s Scottish Tourism Week and Ice Factor Kinlochleven, the world’s largest indoor ice climbing facility and one of Scotland’s top adventure tourism attractions will finally reopen its doors tomorrow (Friday 18 March).
The west highland attraction that annually attracts an average of 130,000 visitors had been closed since 29 July last year due to extensive smoke damage caused by a fire in the sauna area of the 120 year-old building.
Climbers and adventure seekers of all ages and ability come from throughout the UK and abroad to scale Ice Factor’s sheer 14 metre high ice-walls with crampons and ice-axes. Designated as the National Center for Ice Climbing, the facility is also used for training by members of the GB Ice Climbing Team and by Scottish Mountain Rescue.
To celebrate the reopening, 13 years since it first opened, the gargantuan £3.4 million attraction, 20 miles south of Fort William is offering 12 month’s free annual Ice Factor membership to the first 100 people to revisit the award winning facility.
Jamie Smith, owner of Ice Factor Kinlochleven that employs 18 full-time members of staff, estimates the enforced closure of the adventure tourism attraction has cost his business in excess of £950,000.
To celebrate the reopening and 13 years since its creation, the gargantuan £3.4 million attraction is offering 12 month’s free annual Ice Factor membership to the first 100 people to revisit the award winning facility.
Smith is confident outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the revamped facilities which include the chance for novice and expert climbers alike to get to grips with over 400 tonnes and 445 square metres of ice-wall designed to replicate winter climbing conditions on the likes of Ben Nevis.
Smith, a mountaineer and entrepreneur, said: “For over a decade, Ice Factor Kinlochleven has made a positive contribution to Scotland’s adventure tourism economy. It has taken eight months and after a huge team effort I’m really proud to be able to reopen an even bigger and better Ice Factor Kinlochleven.”
“Ice Factor incorporates 1400 square metres of ice and rock climbing space and we’ve taken the opportunity to treble the size of our bouldering area within the indoor rock climbing section. There’s 65 routes on the ice climbing walls and at any one time a total of 18 people can belay / climb on the ice-wall.
“Chillers Bar & Grill continues to serve freshly prepared food and on the same level there’s a reinstated mezzanine floor with views to the climbing areas. The ventilation and heating system is now fully repaired and we’ve taken steps to lower our carbon footprint by recycling some of the energy used to produce the ice.”
Smith added: “I’d like to thank our many customers for their patience and we now look forward to welcoming them back for loads of vertical fun!”
Fergus Ewing MSP, Tourism Minister, Scottish Government, commented: I am delighted that Ice Factor in Kinlochleven is now re-opening. This is terrific news. Ice Factor is the world’s largest indoor ice wall, with facilities to teach children and adults climbing and the Chillers Bar & Grill to provide sustenance and refreshment. I wish it continued success in the future.”
Andy Nelson, Leader of the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team, commented: “With its ice walls designed to replicate classic outdoor winter mountaineering conditions, for many years our team and other members of Scottish Mountain Rescue have used Ice Factor Kinlochleven as part of our training for rescues. I also guide, and in adverse weather conditions, Ice Factor is great for looking at movement on the walls and the likes of rope work. It’s a very welcome and unique facility and complements what we do in the outdoors really well.“
Steve Johnstone, GB Ice Climbing Team manager and a former World Cup competitor, added: “Whether a novice or expert, Ice Factor is worth its weight in gold. It’s a fantastic set-up for the climbing community, helping to develop individual skills and giving our GB athletes a great location to push themselves to an even higher standard for both home and international competitions.”
TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, consistently ranks Ice Factor Kinlochleven within its top 5 of attractions in the Scottish highlands.
In addition to ice-climbing and its huge indoor rock climbing walls (incorporating an energy sapping 6m overhanging articulated wall), many ‘weekend warriors’ are also attracted by the chance to experience a vertical high on its 250 metre long outdoor aerial adventure course. Fifteen metres off the ground, it even features an adrenaline pumping 50metre rope swing!
Ice Factor Kinlochleven first opened in 2003 after being converted from its former use as a Victorian era aluminium smelter. Overlooking the easternmost shores of Loch Leven and sandwiched between the classic British mountaineering areas of Glencoe, the Mamores and Glen Nevis, it’s regularly visited by walkers who make a 200m detour from the famous West Highland Way long-distance hiking route.
The facility is open 364 days of the year (closed Christmas Day).