First Person To Ice Climb Niagara Falls: Will Gadd

Will Gadd is an athlete, speaker, guide, and a mountaineer. He was the first to climb Niagara Falls. This made him a famous name among those in the adventure community. Niagara Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in the whole world. It lies on the border of America and Canada. There are millions of visitors who come to Niagara Falls every year. Hence, it has always been a great tourist center and open to everyone.

But going to visit the waterfall from afar and actually climbing it is worlds apart. It is almost impossible for a normal person even to imagine going through the water. For Will Gadd, things did not seem impossible, though. He climbed Niagara Falls when it was frozen. Hence, he became the first ever to ice climb it. This also helped him achieve the title of Nat Geo Adventurer of the Year.

If you want to know more about Will Gadd and his adventure in Niagara Falls, make sure to read till the end of this article!

Who is Will Gadd?

Who is Will Gadd?

Will Gadd is a Canadian mountain climber, paraglider, pilot, athlete, speaker, and guide. One might also recognize him from the documentary series Fearless Planet, where he works as a host. The episodes of the documentary focus on different places that are discovered and explored by scientists. Gadd has been in several episodes with these professionals, while in the others, he has also been in solo exploration. He has been known all around the world for his fierceness. Gadd has been able to achieve some adventurous successes that are rather not imaginable for most people, even other adventurers.

Will was born on March 8, 1967, in Canada. He completed his schooling at The White Mountain School. Likewise, his expertise is widespread. Not only has Will climbed the ice of Niagara Falls, but he has also climbed the last ice in Mount Kilimanjaro.

Will Gadd and Niagara Falls’ First Climb

Will Gadd and Niagara Falls’ First Climb

Will Gadd became the Nat Geo Adventurer of the Year when he climbed Niagara Falls for the first time when it was frozen. Gadd is proud of his achievement as there had never been anyone before him who was brave enough to do what he did. Despite the risk of doing something so daring, Gadd made sure to succeed. He shared his experience and said,

“I checked out the spot we were thinking of climbing in the summer. You’d be swept away by the torrential downpour then. On a warm winter, there’s no climb here.”

After having worked with the NYS Parks Department and NYS Parks Police, Gadd, during his climb, made sure to take all the necessary precautions while also being mindful of the areas in nature that he might affect by doing what he did. Will considers the beauty of nature and, especially, that of Niagara Falls, to be the treasure of North America.

 Ice axes, crampons, and a specially-designed Black Diamond prototype ‘ice hook’ were used during his ascend to the waterfalls. There were layers of ice that had to be climbed from, and nothing guaranteed safety. It was important for Will to ensure his own safety along with the preservation of the waterfalls. Hence, he cleared some dangerous ice pieces from the top a day before his climb. In case he had not done so, there would’ve been risks of the climber breaking his limb or meeting with a risky accident.

His journey started with an intense traverse. He talks about his start, saying, “If you go in the cauldron of doom, you’re done. You can hit rocks, drown, or freeze to death.”

If you have ever been to Niagara Falls, you know one needs to put on a raincoat and still have the chance of getting utterly drenched. A person who is climbing the waterfalls can be least expected to save himself from getting wet during the climb. This was one of the major challenges that Gadd had to face. He had to poke his climbing stick through the water and to the ice beneath. This resulted in him getting a lot of the waterfall’s water down his neck. After all, the waterfall did not really have all of its water frozen, and only the inner layer of the ice was useful for Will’s climb.

He did not, whatsoever, climb the waterfall alone. Gadd was accompanied by his climbing partner, Sarah Hueniken, on his journey. Sarah is a Canadian alpine guide and a professional ice climber. When he was recalling his climb, Gadd also recalled having been extremely close to the water.

Difficulties of climbing Niagara Falls, according to Will Gadd

Difficulties of climbing Niagara Falls, according to Will Gadd

“That climb beat me up. I may have reached the top, but Niagara won the war. At the end of the day, I was hypothermic. That waterfall did a lot more damage to me than I did to it!” said Gadd after he had succeeded in his climb. It took the climber three routes to climb the waterfall, and each route took him an hour whole. The line he started with was the Canadian and American border, which fit perfectly for his taste. Though he does not really see his climb as a win, he has set a victorious record that is basically his legacy in the adventurer’s world.

After his Niagara Falls climb, Gadd has been to Helmcken Falls, where he put up a new route, and Kilimanjaro, where he climbed the last ice. He was also able to win several top honors in the Ouray Ice Festival.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


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Who is Will Gadd married to?

Will Gadd is married to Kim Csizmazia, who is also a women’s ice climbing world champ from 1998 to 2000.

How old is Will Gadd?

Will Gadd is 56 years old.

When did Will Gadd climb Niagara Falls?

Will Gadd climbed Niagara Falls in January 2015.

What is Will Gadd’s paragliding record?

Gadd has a paragliding record of paragliding world distance record, with a flight of 423 km in Zapata, Texas.

What happened to Will Gadd in Niagara Falls?

Gadd had to suffer from hypothermia in Niagara Falls.

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