At least a half-dozen teams of ice climbers from Midwestern colleges will be scrambling up the sides of silos in northeast Iowa’s Black Hawk County today (Saturday) as part of the 2006 Silo Summit. Bob Lee, a physical education instructor at the University of Northern Iowa, is helping organize the event.
Lee says the four-person teams will be climbing up the sides of actual grain silos near Cedar Falls. There are two 45-foot silos and to 65-foot silos and they’ve strung up an array of garden hoses to spray the sides down. Lee says they look like giant icicles. The event was originally planned for February 4th but had to be canceled due to warm weather.
Lee says the competition is a barrel of fun in addition to being a good physical workout. He says each team member uses ice axes and crampons on their feet to climb as quickly as they can and they ring a bell at the top to stop the clock. Lee says the speed at which the climbers can ascend depends on the ice itself. He says very cold weather makes for hard ice which is more difficult to spear and climb.
He says it was warmer last year and brought soft ice so climbers were able to reach the top of the 45-foot silo in 26-seconds and a minute-ten for the 65-footer. Teams taking part are coming from schools including: U-N-I, Iowa State, Iowa, Western Kentucky, Ohio State and Wisconsin/LaCrosse.