Always a sure sign of spring, Niagara Parks will be conducting its annual rock scaling operations along the wall of the Niagara Gorge on the Canadian side of the Horseshoe Falls, from April 23 to April 27, weather permitting.

Niagara Parks undertakes this activity in the gorge each spring to remove any of the loose rocks and debris that have built up over the winter months, to ensure the safe operations and opening of the lower observation deck of Niagara Parks’ Canadian Signature Experience, Journey Behind the Falls.

During these operations, Niagara Parks 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 works across the face of the wall, some 13 storeys high over the Falls basin. Dressed in helmets and protective gear, workers then remove the loose rocks and debris; a process known as “ice-jacking”.

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 a talus. This talus will then be removed, or left in place upon completion, depending on where it lands.

While the tunnels and viewing portals of Journey Behind the Falls are open to visitors year-round, the lower observation deck closes during the winter months due to the build up of ice. The attraction proved to be especially popular this past winter, offering visitors a breathtaking vantage point to experience the spectacular “Frozen Falls” phenomenon. The lower observation deck is expected to reopen to the public on Saturday, April 28.