A new tradition asks: Do you favor fire, or think ice will suffice?

Each year, the New River Gorge marks the end of Gauley Season with Bridge Day, the world-famous October BASE-jumping festival.

But until recently, there was no hallmark event to mark the beginning of the spring rafting season, when the rain and snowmelt turn the New River into a series of raucous rapids.

That changed in April 2018, when Lansing-based outfitter Adventures on the Gorge hosted its inaugural Fire and Ice Festival. The event featured a pig roast, ice sculptures, an ice carving demonstration, and live entertainment. But the centerpiece of the evening was a 12-foot-tall chimney of ice. Organizers packed it full of wooden pallets and, at 8:30 sharp, set the pallets ablaze.

If the chimney collapsed before 30 minutes elapsed, fire would be declared the winner. If it was still standing, ice was the victor. In the meantime, attendees stood around watching the show, drinking beer, and placing gentlemen’s bets on the outcome. “I think fire was the favorite,” says Jay Young, media manager for the outfitter.

Fire indeed won the night, providing an appropriate au revoir to Old Man Winter. “It comes down in a giant cloud of sparks,” Young says. “It’s every bit as dramatic as you would want it to be.”
Young says the inaugural event was such a success, drawing hundreds of attendees, that Adventures on the Gorge is preparing to do it all again on April 27, 2019. Call Adventures on the Gorge for special Fire and Ice lodging and rafting packages.

219 Chestnutburg Road, Lansing, 304.574.4909, adventuresonthegorge.com, @adventuresonthegorge

Zack Harold
Written by Zack Harold
Zack Harold is a southern West Virginia native. He covered education, health, and government at the Charleston Daily Mail before becoming the newspaper’s features editor. He joined New South Media in 2015, became managing editor of WV Living in January 2016, and took over as managing editor of Wonderful West Virginia in July 2016.