Yes, there is vertical ice to be found!
There is ice climbing to be done here! Outlined on this page are several climbs of varying grades to suit any experience level. All things are measured in context, so given that this a place assumed to have nothing, these falls are outstanding! I will be adding pictures as I get them, so stay tuned.
These climbs are scattered around the western flank of town. The two big falls are located near Scioto river, and the small ones are along the Olentangy. I've included some shots from Hocking Hills, since they are only about an hour away.
Hayden falls is the easiest to find, and is located on Hayden Run Road, at the SE corner of Hayden Run and Frantz road.
Volkswagen Falls are located just off the east side of Dublin road, 1/2 mile north of Trabue Rd.
Highbanks Cliffs are in Highbanks Metro Park, at the intersection of Rt 23 and 750.
Red tape? None, because this is all pretty much Illegal.
-Highbanks Metro Park is a metro park, and they want you to stay on the trails.
-Hayden Falls is a nature preserve, and written permission is needed for anything but picture taking.
-Volkswagen falls is technically on Quarry land.
-Highbanks Metro staff rarely get out of their trucks, and the climbing sites are out of sight from any trail.
-Hayden falls, though 50ft from a major road, is completely secluded. No one will see you unless they are looking for you. We climbed at night for 3 hours and never saw a soul.
-Volkswagen Falls; the falls are a natural falls in what remains of a natural gorge on old quarry land. This is actualy an historically significant part of Columbus. The falls are not visible from any direction unless you're right on top of them. Daylight climbing is nice and quiet on Sundays.
The Big Falls
The highest climb available is Hayden falls. Dimensions are about 30ft high by 30ft wide. Ice forms up in varying types throughout, and even offers you an overhang on the right.
Volkswagen Falls. Slightly shorter then Hayden, but wider. The merits of these falls put it ahead of Hayden in many ways.
-It offers more ice, by virtue of it's width.
-It offers an ice cave along 70% of its width, big enough to squeeze through.
-It offers a much larger overhang, and a couple free hanging fangs if you've got the bullocks to trust them.
-It's secluded, you can climb on a Sunday afternoon unharassed.
-The namesake; the upside down and smashed up Volkswagen Beetle at the bottom of the falls. It was either pushed or driven over the falls many years ago, and all but the wheels and subframe are below the ice in the winter. It's a great place to tie off belayers... actually no it's not, but it is neat.
The little falls
These are all part of the watershed in Highbanks Metro Park. They cut through the park and dump off of the bluffs into the Olentangy river.
-The tallest is only about 20 or 30 feet, and vertical except for a ledge.
-The toughest is a pair of 10ft steps, both vertical, and some of dubious ice. It challenges you more in terms of finesse; you can't hack and kick your way up.
-The rest are a series of narrower streams, none entirely vertical. These are great places to bring beginners for their first lead.
Total count on climbable falls here is 5 and counting. I hope to explore further south and find more.
Having found these, I'm continually asking myself "what else has evaded my sight all these years?" I'll be adding more info and pictures as I get them. Temperatures are turning up, so I may not get ice shots. Through out the summer, I may add pictures of falls in liquid state, just to illustrate what we may have in the winter. There is also the option of manipulating the waterfall flow over Volkswagen Falls, and creating some interesting variations.