2015-16 was a spectacular ice climbing season that saw boundaries pushed, new ground explored, and even the invention of a new ice ax.  For some, the ice season is still going on!  Below are 6 Awesome Things that happened this ice season, and 5 more bonus headlines!

1 Big New Routes on Newfie Ice

The secret is out:  Newfoundland is the new home for serious Canadian winter climbing.  It’s big, windy, and nose-numbingly cold.  You'll probably need a snowmoblie, and it's chock full of unexplored territory.

Will Mayo hasn’t let anything stop him from pioneering some notable routes, most recently The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (WI7+, Trad (!) M12 with and Ben Collett and Chelsea Rude. Read Will's 3 part blog about the route and the gigantic ice that falls off it here.

2 Interstellar Spice WI 12 at Helmcken Falls

Tim Emmett and Klemen Preml, both users of DRY ICE Tools, established an outrageous bolted spray ice line at Helmcken Falls.  The climb is a 260 foot single pitch of spray ice climbing they called Interstellar Spice and rated by Emmett and Preml WI 12.  Yes, 12! 

In a single pitch, Interstellar Spice covers similar ground as the first four pitches of its neighbor Spray On to the right, a route put up by Emmett and Will Gadd in 2011.

“[It’s] possibly the ultimate winter climbing experience,” says Emmett.

3 Marianne Van Der Steen’s Accidental send of M13+ Dutch climber (and also a DRY ICE Tools user) Marianne van der Steen “accidentally” flashed one of Italy’s most difficult dry-tooling routes, Kamasutra (D13+), at Bus del Quai, Iseo, likely the hardest dry-tooling flash ever made. And then she sent it again the next day.

After warming up and attempting a nearby M12, she says she didn’t feel great and went to cheer on Gordon McArthur as he attempted Kamasutra. McArthur fell near the top of the route and his ice tool, stuck in a crack, was left dangling.

“The only reason I went up there was because Gord got his axe stuck. I thought it would be way too much for me to climb it.  Maybe that was just the thing I actually needed. Going up without any expectations.”

4 The KRONOS Release

On Nov 15 2015, Furnace Industries released the KRONOS, the world's first 'T' rated, CE certified technical ice climbing tool made from wood.

It’s gorgeous, climbs amazingly, and offers features no other tool can offer. This is a big deal. Why? No other wood ice tool in history has achieved the technical ice tool 'T' rating, and the benefits of using wood are huge. Read more about the KRONOS here.

5 Lucie Hrozová Establishes Hardest Mixed Climb in U.S.

On January 31, visiting Czech climber Lucie Hrozová claimed the first ascent of what now may be the hardest mixed climb in the United States—on her third attempt.

She named the route Saphira, after a mythical dragon, and suggested M15- for the grade.  Oh, and she also won the 2016 Ouray Ice Comp for Women. Now that is a productive visit!

6 Tom Ballard Establishes World’s Hardest Dry Tooling Route

A Line Above the Sky

is Tom Ballard’s newest and most difficult dry tooling route in the Dolomites. If his D15 grade is confirmed by future ascensionists, it will be the most difficult dry tooling route climbed yet. Ballard told UKC, "With 45+ meters of burly, shoulder-straining moves, and more than 25 clips, this route weighs in, I think, at a hefty D15.”

Also of Note:

World’s largest indoor ice climbing centre reopens after fire

On July 29 2015, more than 200 people were evacuated from Ice Factor Kinlochleven, south of Fort William, when the accidental fire broke out in the sauna area of the 120-year-old building.

Owner Jamie Smith said: “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.”

He pointed out that the centre incorporated 16,750 square yards of ice and rock climbing space and said they had taken the opportunity to treble the size of the bouldering area in the indoor rock climbing section.

The Michigan Ice Film

The Michigan Ice Film was released unveiling to the world the enormous amount of ice to be climbed in the Midwest! 

This is a story of place, a scrappy corner of Midwestern flyover land that happens to be home to one of North America’s largest concentrations of climbable ice. The film weaves the stories of the region’s original climbing pioneers with tales from some of climbing’s more well known athletes with a connection to Michigan.

The film also features the increasingly popular Michigan Ice Fest. The festival, one of the oldest climbing festivals in North America, brought around 750 climbers to tiny Munising this past February for five days of learning, presentations, giveaways and zany hijinks.

Nanga Parbat was climbed for the first time in Winter

On February 26, Italian Simone Moro, Pakistani Muhammad Ali Sadpara, and Spaniard Alex Txikon reached the summit of Nanga Parbat, the thirteenth 8000-meter peak to get a winter ascent. The successful climb leaves K2 as the only 8000-meter peak that has not been climbed in winter. Can you say 'last great problem'?

A NEW Route for mortals seeking adventure in the Daks

Although DEEP in the backcountry, Adirondack climbers eager for adventure need look no further than Panther Gorge.  Kevin MacKenzie, Bill Schneider & Devin Farkas did just that on Jan 30 when they nabbed the FA of an unclimbed 250’ line they called By Tooth and Claw WI4.

Penstock Burst During Ouray Ice Comp

Maybe not so awesome, but cetainly notable. During the annual Ouray Ice Festival at the Ouray Ice Park in Colorado, the three-foot diameter water penstock above Uncompahgre Gorge burst. No one was climbing directly below at the time but there were several climbers off to the side. Climbers had to evacuate the lower gorge in certain sections due to rapidly rising water. No one was injured and the mixed climbing competition, not far below the burst, continued.