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  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Grow your own,.. ICE, that is

    Ever wanted to have your own personal ice climb? Most of us have but few of us really do. For the past decade Ive grown some wonderful backyard ICE climbs. This is really nothing new. Weve all see the wonderful ice structures used in climbing competitions. I bet you thought that it could only be done in the cold North land. Well Im here to tell you that its possible to grow massive ice structures here in central Maryland. Some pictures are already here on NEICE.

    http://www.iceclimbingphotos.com/sho...-is-in/cat/529

    Ill add a few more pix for reference and to make them easy to find. My next few posts will describe what Ive learned to help you grow your own. Feel free to ask questions. Good luck with your new ICE project.

  2. #2
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    The Ice Triangle

    Remember learning about the fire triangle? Fire requires 3 components, fuel, oxygen, and heat. Growing climbable ice has a triangle of requirements too. Water, cold, and a vertical structure. The trick is to get the proportions correct. Too much water will melt it down, not enough and the hose will freeze, and not enough structure will cause to ice to grow too slowly. Air temperatures will affect usable water flow rates, etc

    The ice triangle directly controls what you need and what you need to do with it. The basic setup will probably be a garden hose with some sort of water sprinkler on the end. Your structure could be a dead tree, an old play set, or a large pole. Temperature is the one thing that you have the least control of but you can optimize things. Place your structure in the shadow of a tree or house for example. Its even possible to fiddle with the temperature of the water to allow it to pre-cool by running through extra hose. Where I live in Maryland the average Jan high is 46 and the average low in 26 yet I still grow great ice for a few weeks every year.

    Here is a web site that will let you look up the monthly average temps for your area:
    http://www.accuweather.com/en/us/wes...weather/333552

  3. #3
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    Structure

    Structure

    In recent years Ive switched from growing ice on a dead tree to growing on an artificial structure. What ever you choose to grow the ice on, make sure that it is a safe distance from everything like your house, fences, sheds, your kids etc The ice may come down with a massive crash. Mine usually do. Growing ice on living trees will KILL them.

    My earliest attempts of growing ice involved using a homemade rope Bachar ladder as the seed for the ice. Unfortunately I only ended up with a 2 foot diameter icicle. It is my belief that the mesh fencing is one of the best ice growing materials. It provides ample growing surface and will quickly fill in to a solid wall. In addition, it is not prone to absorbing heat the way plywood does. Rope, chain, guy wires, cables, etc all provide seed surface for ice to grow on. One successful structure was a simple pole with 4 guy wires. Another success was a dead Maple tree with the limbs cut short. Be creative, a 25 foot strip of 4x2x4 mesh fence hung vertically between two trees would be awesome.

    This season my structure is made of 3, 16 foot uprights, 8 feet apart. The center upright is surrounded by 3 foot diameter rolls of 4x2x4 mesh fencing. Mesh fence also hangs vertically from cables strung between the center and side uprights.

    Keep in mind that the water has to come from somewhere, usually above or on the structure. Point is, you might need to reach it. More on that in the next post.

    http://www.iceclimbingphotos.com/sho...wn-ice/cat/500

    http://www.iceclimbingphotos.com/sho...ks-old/cat/505

    http://www.iceclimbingphotos.com/sho...-climb/cat/500

  4. #4
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    Water Flow

    Water Flow

    One of the most important lessons Ive learned is that growing ice takes a lot of water. Be prepared to use it. Ive only rarely succeeded growing ice using the drip or slow flow method. The fundamental problem is that the nozzle and hose freeze up all too often. To keep the water warm enough that ice crystals dont form (and ultimately clog the nozzle) it is important to keep the flow rate up high enough. Of course a heavy flow of water onto ice will quickly melt it. What to do?

    My solution is to spray the water up above the structure and let it settle back down. The water will have quickly cooled and will freeze much faster. I use a common garden hose nozzle attachment. It is mounted facing upward to a pole rigged above the top of the structure. The nozzle I use has 6 settings so I can set a light mist if its in the high 20s or a heavy spray for the rare single digit nights. The amount of flow can also be set at the main faucet or an in-line hose shutoff can be used.

    The wind can take the spray quite a distance so watch your house, car driveway, and trees. Ive awoken to find that a lot of water went where it wasnt supposed to. I use several 45 degree hose adapters to allow me to easily aim the nozzle. I have also had good success with the basic brass nozzles that are adjusted by turning the end. Fine sprays and various fan widths can be made.

    http://www.iceclimbingphotos.com/sho...n-2012/cat/500

  5. #5
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    Temperature Vs Water Flow

    Temperature Vs Water Flow

    We cant control the temperature outside but we can control the temperature of the water. There are two ways. The water can be cooled in the hose by simply suspending the hose in the air, like hanging it along a fence. It is possible to just attach a second hose. The extra length will allow the water to cool more. I should mention that Ive had hoses freeze up trying to cool the water in this manor. Have a spare hose and be ready to put it up if you have a freeze up.

    The second and best method of cooling the water is after it comes out of the hose and before it hits the ice. For this to work the spray nozzle is directed up in the air above the structure. You could also spray from ground level up to the structure. The point is that the water will cool very quickly this way. In warmer temps, 20s, a fine mist might work well but on single digit nights the mist will turn to snow so you might need to adjust the nozzle to generate a heavier flow with larger water drops.

    Its sad to say that in the mid-Atlantic states there really isnt a good way to set it and forget it. Youll need to gore-tex up late at night to check the conditions and make adjustments. But hey, you have the gear.

    http://www.iceclimbingphotos.com/sho...ng-ice/cat/500

  6. #6
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    OK, now go build one

    OK, Build It !!!

    Ok, so you want to try to grow some ice. Go for it !!! You might have everything you need in the back yard. Then again you might need some supplies. Here is a Bill of Material for a basic self supporting ice climb as seen in some of the pictures. Yes, Ive spent that much and more.

    $40 100 Foot heavy duty hose
    $10 Multi garden nozzle
    $38 16 foot 6x6
    $35 50 feet 3/16 steal wire rope
    $3 ea 4 sets of 3/16 cable clamps
    $2 ea 8 rebar safety caps
    $2 ea 8 metal construction stakes or rebar
    $40 50 feet of 4 foot tall 2x4 wire mesh fence
    $3 Hose screens, fits in place of the washer

    $$$$ Water, dont forget it will be on for weeks if the weather is good

    http://www.iceclimbingphotos.com/sho...-climb/cat/500

  7. #7
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    Other ways

    has worked in the (metropolitan) wild (27 feet wi4/3):

    bury hose, 2" or 4" so one end runs over rockface and the other is in a reliable stream, the deeper the burial the better. Make sure the run is consistent, any pooling in the hose will guarantee blockage. The run of the hose can be relatively shallow. Make sure the inlet is well below the usual ice level in the stream.

    Also has worked well in the (metropolitan) wild (75 feet m2/wi2):

    Make a yoke for carrying two 5 gal buckets with lids. Pad yoke. Wait for dark and make as many trips between stream and cliff as you can. Pour water into 30 gal trash can with a smallish hole punched in it's side near the bottom. The Trashcan should be above and just back from the edge, enough to chill the water further. Keep it up, working nightly as long as you can. Saturday morning you get your reward.
    Last edited by robrox; 01-10-2012 at 09:30 AM. Reason: clean up the edit

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