Scarpa North America Blog

Of Ice and Men: Will Gadd on his fascination with frozen water, fatherhood, and feeling like a kid.

Dec. 8th 2011

PHOTO: Christian Pondella/ Craters News


Another season of freezing water has pro ice climber and SCARPA athlete Will Gadd in a good mood. The Canmore-based Gadd is still marveling on his most recent muse, Helmcken Falls, and his latest opus, Spray On. He’s been currently climbing for Hollywood, taking note on his daughter’s new “bouldering” problems, and yearns to think like a kid again, so long as he doesn’t destroy any more furniture in the process.

How is the ice coming in your neck of the woods? How do you like to embrace each new season of climbing frozen water?
Lots of ice here as usual, and I’m fired up. But I spent the last week being a stunt double for the new Jason Bourne flick, “Marcher.” Did some hard dry tooling up high in the mountains; I love commuting to work in a helicopter, always fun.

The Bozeman Ice Fest is this weekend, and you’ll be one of the featured instructors? What do you like to pass on to aspiring ice climbers?
Ah, I’m actually going to miss it, but I’m putting together a wicked video for everyone to watch and heckle. There will be some vintage video smack in there that’s never before been seen in public, and will probably never again be seen in public for good reason.

I’d like to pass on to aspiring ice climbers that no one climb is worth everything. All starts are optional, finishes aren’t. And have fun; it’s an awesome sport!

What are the benefits of climbing festivals, such as Ouray and Bozeman?
Generally, there is free beer somewhere, often dancing, and occasionally climbing.

Wait, wrong answer. For me, it’s a good time to see friends, make new friends, and just have a great time exploring a community passion for climbing. For the novice, festivals offer the chance to take clinics, try gear, and generally broaden their horizons.

What projects are you working on (that you can discuss?) Any new developments in Helmcken Falls?
Helmcken Falls is pretty much the most awesome place on the planet, so that’s where my attention is right now. I have some ideas for a different style of climbing there, we’ll see what happens when it’s all said and done. Stay tuned!

You’ve been working with SCARPA, used their boots for years. Why do you like it?
The first time I visited SCARPA in Italy I met this older guy working on the production line, trimming leather off mountain boots with precise flicks of a razor-sharp knife in his gnarled hands. There was something about him that made me ask who he was. My guide replied, “Oh, he’s my uncle, and owns a lot of the company.” That’s the soul of SCARPA right there for me. It’s not an anonymous company, but a family business.

And then there’s the actual product. I don’t think anyone is making better boots. I run, ski, climb ice, climb rock, hike, and just love getting out in the mountains as much as possible; for all of my sports there’s a pair of SCARPAs that works perfectly. I’ve been working with SCARPA for almost 15 years now. It’s cool. I hadn’t thought about it, but that must surely be one of the longer relationships in the climbing industry!

How has your newborn affected your life this past year? Any changes in your outlook in climbing or other aspects of your life?
Having kids definitely makes me look at the world differently. I’ve never been a huge risk-taker in the mountains so that doesn’t change much, but the traveling is harder now; I want to get back home! Fortunately, I get to bring my family on some trips.

Kids take big risks every day; it’s we as adults who get so bogged down and stuck in a riskless rut. The other day I heard a big thump from the basement, and went down there to see my daughter leaping from the top of the freezer to the guest couch; it was bold, it was fun, and soon she had a bunch of her little friends doing it too. I thought, “That’s what bouldering is.” So, while I try to make good judgments in the mountains, I want to be more like a kid and preserve that sense of play, creativity, and joy in motion that all kids have. Unfortunately, when I tried the jump I broke the couch.

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