Type: Ice, 180 ft, 2 pitches
FA: January 1979. Peter Monkkonen, Richard Doege and Brian McKinley
Page Views: 14,371 total · 88/month
Shared By: Kris Gorny on Mar 12, 2007
Admins: Kris Gorny, K Ice

You & This Route

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The most spectacular, and may I add, the only spectacular natural icefall in Minnesota. A must-do for any Minnesota ice climber. A significant part of the Nightfall experience is a unique hike along the frozen and meandering Devil's Track River enclosed within reddish walls of a steep ravine. Grade may vary depending on conditions but the top section is most often WI 4. Nightfall is relatively wide so several variations usually exist.

Pitch 1: Start from the river bank and climb over a short steep section leading into a wider snowy bowl at the bottom of the main flow. Ice conditions rarely permit to set up a belay at the bottom of the bowl (best fo avoiding falling ice.) Most of the time you need to suck it up and set up an anchor where the ice gets steeper.
Pitch 2: Go up the steep flow. Fixed sling anchor around a tree on top. Use your own slings to back it up.

For a one-pitch lead a pair of 60m ropes is required (70m is better) and long runners are needed to minimize drag.

Reference: "Ice Climbs of the Lake Superior Region", Granite Publishing

Current Ice conditions: refer to conditions forum at climbingcentral.com


From Grand Marais drive north on Hwy 61 for about 2 miles until you see the bridge over Devil Track River (sign). Drive roughly 100 yards past the bridge and park on the right side of the highway. Make sure you parked well past the last mailbox. Walk back towards the bridge. If the river is frozen follow it into the canyon for about 1 mile. Nightfall flows down the cliff on the left side of the river.

If the river is not frozen, you could walk back additional 100 yards along the highway, turn right into a private driveway leading to a log cabin. To get into the state forest you need to cross private land past the cabin. Do not cross the private property without owners permission. In the forest locate the well-maintained snowmobile trail which roughly follows the cliffline. Hike the trail until it gets closest to the edge of the canyon. You should clearly see reddish cliffs on the other side from that point. Locate the snow gully on top of the climb and scramble down to the sling anchors around the trees. Set up a top rope or rap to the bottom of the canyon. A pair of 60 meter ropes barely makes it to base of the climb.


Ice screws