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Climbers scale frozen water falls in Minnesota

Saturday, March 1, 2014 - 9:00am

Freezing cold temperatures in Minnesota have turned a waterfall into a natural climbing wall.

And some people have found the conditions are perfect for outdoor team-building exercises.

Clip on those crampons and let the natural wonders of a northland winter take you on an adventure.

"It's beautiful out here. You definitely won't find anything like this down in the cities," Noelle Rzeszutek, the manager of Punch Pizza, said.

Flowing in the summer, the waters of Gooseberry Falls turn to ice when winter arrives, creating perfect conditions for a unique climbing experience.

"There's kind of an element of hard-coreness to it. Especially with having to be bundled up and really making the most of your time outside," said Christy Newell of POS Energy Outdoors.

And for one group of restaurant managers from the cities, "We like to get away from town and get away from our jobs and come and experience the outdoors," John Puckett, a Co-Owner of Punch Pizza, told CNN.

It is more than just a climb up an ice wall.

"It's really nice to see them all try to connect with each other and rely on each other, like if there wasn't the belayer, obviously, people would be falling so it's nice to rely on your co-workers," said Kyle Meyer, owner of Punch Pizza.

"It is a lot harder than you think it is, very physical and it's a great challenge because your co-workers are supporting you on the rope, so there's great teamwork involved and it feels really good when you get to the top. You can see when we're climbing everybody is cheering each other on," John Puckett said.

It looks easy when the professionals do it.

But this type of climbing is much more difficult than it seems.

"Just trying to get a good hold on everything. I was trying to get a good feel for it, and it's definitely harder than it looks to get a good kick in there and a good swing in there. So, I was chipping some good ice but it's hard to grab the hold," Noelle Rzeszutek said.

"While you're doing it, there's definitely a challenge to it that you can feel, and it's a physical challenge as well as a mental challenge," Christy Newell said.

And each of these climbers looks forward to something different.

"I just wanted to make sure that I reached the top. That was pretty much it," Noelle Rzeszutek explained.

"I'm just excited, I'm kinda figuring out the best way to go up, figure out which route I wanna take," Kyle Meyer told CNN.

"I like the adventure of ice climbing. It's fun to go out and scope out an area and have to set up the climb and make sure it's safe and then be able to actually do it," explained Newell.

It’s a fun and physical workout requiring a lot of teamwork and staying safe is always a major factor.

"The guides are really knowledgeable, but what they like to do is they like to teach you how to do it, so they all have us learn the knots and technical aspects of safety and that just makes it much more interesting," Puckett said.

"Beyond thinking about safety, you're thinking about the techniques for driving in your hands and feet, conserving energy while you're doing it so that you don't get tired out," Newell said.

Although this group knows the climbing here is not easy, they all have one common goal, "Even though it's difficult, it's great to be able to finish it head strong,” Rzeszutek said.

"It's really nice to see how happy they get and just the excitement that 'I finally made it up," Meyer said.

"One of the things that climbing an ice wall teaches you is perseverance. It doesn't matter how pretty it is you just got to get to the top," Puckett said.


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