North American Classic Climbs

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Bridalveil Falls

(Valdez, Alaska Area)

Beta Images Slide Show

Bridalveil Falls is one of the two longest, fattest, and most accessible ice climbs along Keystone Canyon, some 15 miles west of (Valdez, AK.) Due to copious amounts of snowfall in this area, there is plenty of water to form waterfalls. Due to the proximity to the ocean, the temperatures usually hover around the freezing point rather than the sub-zero extremes seen further north in the interior of Alaska. This combination produces some of the best ice on the continent.

This falls lies right next to the road that provides the only vehicular access to (Valdez, AK), a town that has grown in economic importance as the terminus for the Alaska pipeline. At 4.5 pitches and 800 feet of quality ice, it is remarkable not only for its size and beauty, but also for the fact that it is neatly divided into a series of pillars and terraces, with good stances or even caves at each belay. There is plenty of steep ice on Bridaveil, notably the crux "Killer Pillar" on pitch 3, but the length of the ramps that intervene keeps this from being a truly serious climb to the modern ice climber. The history of this climb serves as a reminder for the role technology has played in the sport. The first ascent, using conventional alpine axes and crude protection that was all but unusable on vertical ice, was a major epic over three days by a team with more commitment than experience. Boldness fortified by recreational stimulants was the key to that ascent. With modern tools and good technique, expect a half day of very pleasurable moderate climbing on plastic ice with excellent protection.


Snow & Ice (frozen waterfall)




Keystone Canyon, near (Valdez, AK), AK



G31, W35




Route Descriptions & Maps:

Route diagram

First Ascent:

J. Jennings, C. Moore, C. Tobin, December, 1977


Trip Reports:

Clark 2/02