Annual rock scaling operations to begin along Niagara Gorge wall

The Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) will conduct its annual rock scaling operations along the wall of the Niagara Gorge on the Canadian side of the Horseshoe Falls, beginning the week of April 18. This rock scaling will continue through the week until completion, weather permitting.

A sure sign of spring, Niagara Parks will undertake this activity to remove any of the loose rocks and debris that have built up over the winter months. If not removed, these rocks could pose a concern to the safe operations and opening of the lower observation deck of the Journey Behind the Falls attraction.

During these operations, NPC staff will be lowered in a cage over the decorative parapet wall into the Niagara Gorge. A large crane operating from the top of the gorge wall will then slowly carry the workers across the face of the wall, some 13 stories high over the Falls basin. Wearing helmets and protective gear, workers will then remove the loose rocks and debris.

Rock scaling also takes place above the lower roadway access point of the new zipline attraction, as well as at NPC’s White Water Walk attraction. During these operations, the removal of loose rock will require the hiring of qualified contractors to rappel over the parapet wall to complete their task.

“Ice-jacking” is the name of the process that loosens the rocks on the gorge face. Water captured in the crevasses of the rocks freezes and thaws over long periods of time and creates loose rocks. Rocks are chiseled out and allowed to fall into the gorge creating a sloped fortification wall called talus. This talus will then be either removed, or left in place upon completion, depending on where it lands.

Each spring, before the lower observation deck is re-opened, rock scaling is completed and an inspection is carried out by an independent geology firm. For the safety of visitors, the Journey Behind the Falls attraction may experience limited access during this time.

The Journey Behind the Falls attraction provides NPC visitors with views of the Falls from behind and beside the base of the cascading Horseshoe Falls. Each winter, the lower observation deck of this attraction is closed to the public to ensure the safety of visitors from ice and possible rock falls. Details on the new zipline attraction will be announced later this spring. 

NPC is committed to a vision of Ontario’s Niagara Parks as one that preserves a rich heritage, conserves natural wonders, and Inspires people world-wide. Founded in 1885, The Niagara Parks Commission is an Operational Enterprise Agency of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Its mission is to protect the natural and cultural heritage along the Niagara River for the enjoyment of visitors while maintaining financial self-sufficiency.

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