Our adventurous kids love to climb, boulder, scramble & generally hang upside down. When they heard of a place called The Ice Factor in Kinlocheven, their little eyes grew HUGE with excitement and somehow they managed to rope me in (no pun intended) to learning how to ice climb and spending an entire day there! If you have thrill seeking kids, this post is all about why you should visit The Ice Factor.
Where Is The Ice Factor, Kinlochleven?
The Ice Factor is roughly 35 minutes south-east of Fort William and just a short distance from Glencoe in Scotland. If you haven’t been up to The Highlands or the west coast of Scotland, it is definitely worth a visit. I still believe that Scotland is one of the most natural and wild places that you will be able to visit inside Europe.
I would very happily go and live in Scotland; with its brown, rugged and water sodden mountains; thousands of cascading white-headed waterfalls; fine sandy beaches and islands that will leave your breathlessly wanting more, what is not to love about Scotland? Oh, yes, well…. the weather is a little temperamental but look past that and just pack your waterproofs! I’ll be honest, there’s never a time in the Scottish calendar when you won’t need a hat but isn’t that just part of the adventure?
What Can You Do At The Ice Factor?
The Ice Factor is an indoor climbing centre that offers rock climbing, bouldering, an outside aerial adventure and the WORLD’S BIGGEST 12m indoor ice climbing room.
Our kids were fortunate enough to be taught by one of the UK’s top ice climbers, Dave Mcleod but all of the staff there are approachable and helpful. I often asked them for advice and tips and they’d readily oblige and take time out to show me different techniques.
All Day Rock Climbing
The centre boasts 135 different climbing routes and if you look at the photos below it’s not hard to see how. Routes offered from 3+ to 8a and include a hydraulic wall – which I didn’t get to see in action.
There are actually two separate areas for climbing; the first area is less high and called the training bay. It is not photographed here. It has at least three different auto-belay machines and routes ranging from 3-6c. The second area, the freeform walls, offer climbing from 4-7b on slabs, vertical walls and overhangs. The main articulated wall (looks like a large handcrack on the below photo) can be lowered up to 6m to make routes even more challenging!
All Day Bouldering
The bouldering room may look small but it offers a lot, including a cave roof. I’m not great at bouldering and I always feel a bit self-conscious as a static boulderer when some super fit, twenty year old comes over with a quick, dynamic style and figures out the moves in record time!
We visited during the last week of English school holidays in September (Scot schools run a different timetable and had already gone back) and had the bouldering room to ourselves on multiple occasions throughout the day.
If you want to see the difference between static and dynamic, watch this video.
The aerial adventure is a 250 metre circuit, 10 metres high off the ground. The day we went, the weather turned and the skies opened. I am not a cold weather equipped person so, although I love aerial adventures, I opted to stay inside and watch through the windows. Nothing could disuade our cheeky cherubs though and they headed out eagerly to scramble the cargo net up to the start line.
What is included in the aerial adventure:
- A 15m climb to the summit on the commando nets
- Tight-rope walk
- Hanging vines
- Rickety bridges
- Burmese bridge
- Postman’s Walk
- Swaying Climbing Feature
- The Swaying Log Challenge
- The Swing Platform followed by the notorious ‘Leap of Faith’.
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The ice climbing wall consists of routes ranging from Grade 3 – grade 5 with routes from easy, angled snow-slopes through to challenging, thin ice/rock mixed climbing.
We had a 2.5 hour lesson and by the third attempt I was feeling more confident with my foot work although my left arm definitely needed a ton more practice with the ice pick. I also got incredibly cold and by 2 hours I’d had enough. This is because I was a fool and only wore my leggings!
Ice Climbing For The Kids
Although the website stated that kids under 12 couldn’t ice climb, they were more than happy to teach our two who are 9 & 11. This may have been because they were both over 1.3m in height and had over a size 4 foot.
The kids only had an hour’s lesson although I’m sure they spent longer in there. It felt much longer.
What Should You Take And Wear?
For Ice Climbing
The ice room is approximately -5*c and you’ll be in there for somewhere between 1-2.5 hours. I recommend taking every warm layer you possibly can including:
- Hat & Gloves
- Thick socks
- Multiple trouser layers, possibly including waterproof trousers
- Multiple thin layered tops
- Coat or Jacket
For Climbing & Bouldering
I despise climbing shoes and wearing shoes with no socks kills me! So I always wear my ‘no show low socks‘ and yes I have hideous feet! Apart from that you can climb in anything comfortable.
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Chillers Bar & Grill
Onsite is a cafe, car and grill and although they don’t advertise it, they sell a vegan burger and a number of other vegan options. They even had soy milk.
Fancy Having A Go At Ice Climbing?
Are you thinking about a visit to the Ice Climbing centre? Add this image to Pinterest, so you don’t forget!