Outdoor Journal

Ice, ice baby: So it doesn’t look like much, okay? Just some dense foam panels bolted to plywood walls. But use your imagination, my friend! The new ice-climbing routes at Climbmax Climbing Center in Asheville promise a thrill for even the most jaded of mall rats.

First, there are the boots you’ve got to wear — big leather affairs whose soles bristle with steel spikes. Then there are the ice axes (you heard right — axes!), which the climber wields in each hand in order to scale the off-white wall.

This newest feature at the Wall Street climbing facility went up just before Bele Chere, says Alex Magruder, a Climbmax instructor. It’s the only one of its kind in the Southeast, and the price is right — $10 per session.

If you can’t ice climb alfresco (and this might be the fate global warming hands you), then trot on down to Climbmax and imagine yourself pecking away at some virgin ice, or scaling the Khumbu ice fall on your way to conquering Mount Everest’s summit. Gracious! All this hot weather has our imaginations running wild …

Rock the vote: There’s a move afoot to bring Chimney Rock, the Rutherford County landmark that towers over Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge, into the North Carolina state parks fold. Some very prominent local officials are urging the governor and the General Assembly to cough up the $55 million it would take to seal the deal. For many people, the best-case scenario would be for the state to buy the 1,000-acre park and combine it with the new Hickory Nut Gorge State Park for a conservation and recreation coup. If you’d like to voice your support for state ownership of the ol’ rock pile, visit www.savechimneyrock.net.

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