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Friday, April 19, 2013

Annual rock scaling along Niagara Gorge wall to begin next week

 Niagara Falls, ON – The Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) will conduct its annual rock scaling operation along the wall of the Niagara Gorge on the Canadian side of the Horseshoe Falls during the week of April 22. This rock scaling will continue through the week until completion, weather permitting.

Niagara Parks staff scale the rocks that have become loose during the winter to protect visitors from debris that may fall on the lower observation deck at the Journey Behind the Falls attraction. 

Each year, several members from the Engineering and Parks Departments are lowered in a cage over the decorative parapet wall into the Niagara Gorge. A large crane operating from the top of the gorge wall slowly carries workers across the face of the wall starting 13 storeys up over the Falls basin. Wearing helmets and protective gear, workers remove all loose rocks and debris created during the winter ice build-up.

‘Ice-jacking’ is the name of the process that loosens the rocks on the gorge face. Water captured in the crevasses of 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. The talus will be either removed or left in place upon completion, depending on where it lands.

Each spring, before the lower deck is re-opened, rock scaling is carried out and inspected 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 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 rock falls.

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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