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Sport of silo ice climbing gains traction in Iowa

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 11:47 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 12:27 p.m. CDT

CEDAR FALLS (AP) — The specialized sport of silo ice climbing is gaining followers at an eastern Iowa farm considered the largest site for such activity in the Midwest.

Dozens of enthusiasts strapped into harnesses climbed the 80-foot silo at Rusty Leymaster's farm northwest of Cedar Falls on Saturday, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported. The silo had been sprayed with water that froze, coating the structure in ice.

The practice of icing a silo to climb is fairly new. Don Briggs, a University of Northern Iowa professor, started researching the sport in 2001, looking at how to rig hoses in order to make ice when the weather turned cold.

Climbing at Leymaster's farm started with a handful of people, and now more than 300 have season passes.

Leah Takes, 10, of Cedar Falls, went climbing with her father and 13-year-old sister and made it about 20 or 25 feet up the silo.

"Even though they say you should use your legs, it's hard," Leah said after her first attempt.

John Anderson, of Des Moines, another 10-year-old, started silo ice climbing when he was 5 years old and is now interested in being professionally sponsored. He also said he's interested in different kinds of ice climbing.

"With ice climbing, you can go out in the woods and climb a waterfall," he told the newspaper. "You can find all kinds of things to ice climb."

Silo ice climbing at the farm is mostly run by volunteers and University of Northern Iowa students. UNI also supplies climbing gear for newcomers.

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