Interview: Will Gadd
by Gino Fanelli | published Feb. 27th, 2015
Canadian ice climber and Red Bull athlete Will Gadd, 47, awed the world recently with his Jan. 27 climb up the frozen face of Niagara's Horseshoe Falls — a 150-foot climb with the roaring force of the falls blowing just feet away. Gadd beat the odds to become the first climber to brave the peak.
"Ya know, 30 years of climbing experience really helped," said Gadd, laughing. "And the physical training helps, of course. It helps to be able to do one-handed pull-ups and all of that, but in the end, it's the experience that really made this possible."
Gadd went on to discuss some of the perils involved in climbing the face of a frozen waterfall the likes of Niagara's tallest segment.
"You've got just a million things that could go wrong," said Gadd. "You've got just the picks and your climbing cleats, and there's always the chance of a loose chunk of ice or a slip-up. My climbing partner was coming up behind me, so the number-one concern was safety. And I don't consider the climb over until every single person involved is safe."
Gadd went on to describe his entrance into the world of ice climbing and, more particularly, climbing waterfalls.
"I grew up in the Canadian Rockies," Gadd said. "It's winter about six months out of the year there, and you're constantly surrounded with ice, so you have to figure out something to do with it, and I've never been much good at hockey. So I started climbing. My father was an ice climber as well, so I suppose that played a big part of it as well."
While Gadd's most recent stunt is truly a remarkable feat of human strength and endurance, it is but one in a long list of superhuman displays pulled off by the man dubbed "The Captain of Adventure," which includes winning the 1998 Winter X Games in Men's Ice Climbing in both speed and difficulty and the 2000 World Cup in Ice Climbing. In recent memory is his Dec. 16 climb, done for Red Bull, of the 656-foot Helmcken Falls in British Columbia, a backdrop for perhaps the most stunning photography in the history of sport.
But the climb is never over for Gadd, who is already planning his next series of climbs.
"There's [a] couple [of] things — I'm going back to Niagara Falls for the Wings for Life Run. I've got a couple friends coming out for that, so that should be fun. And then I'm going to Greenland and Antarctica and do some climbing there, and yeah, there's just so many cool things to do in life," Gadd commented. "There [are] a few climbers that have gone to Antarctica, but we're planning on doing some stuff there that has never been climbed before, so that should be really cool and interesting to figure out."