How To : Ice Climbing : A Beginners Guide

When it comes to ice climbing, there are technical facets but as important as the technical tips in an icefall, it's super important to get to know the environment in which you operate.

The quality of the ice, its constitution, the higher slopes, latest temperature variations are primary reasons to consider earlier than committing in an icefall. We will discuss in this how to ice climbing guide, the key factors involved.

Ice climbing and rock hiking share the same general body position: most of the climber’s weight is on their feet, to reduce fatigue of the arms. The fundamental technical thing in ice climbing is mastering ice axe utilization, mainly the swing. Thanks to their tools, ice climbers have the freedom to create their own holds and to find their own manner approaching these ephemeral routes.

Basic Position

Whether you are a beginner or a trained climber, work on adopting a basic body position that is as balanced and as comfortable as possible.

ice climbing

To preserve energy, the pelvis must be nearly the wall and the back somewhat arched, like in rock climbing. Keep your arms as straight as you can, with the shoulders low. Try to have your feet moderately apart, heels low, to reduce fatigue and prevent front point slippage.

Basic Development of Your Technique

You need to alternate your moves by lifting one foot, then the other, one tool, then the other. Advance when you find a good position on your contact points. Take small steps to find "mini ledges". Do not take steps which might be too high and keep below your tools so they don’t pull out.

The ice axes will have to be the same height, shoulder-width apart, about 10 cm beneath their maximum reach. If you place your axe too high it will be difficult to remove it. Minimize pulling with the hands and maintain them straight.

Advanced Progression Method

In distinction with the earlier mentioned method, the axes should not be placed at the same height, to increase reach. Position an axe. After you position your center of gravity beneath the axe, move your feet up. This position is called the triangle position. Repeat this movement. If you feel comfortable with the position you are in, pivot your crampons for internal and external edge hold, to increase reach.

The Strike

In this stage, you need to avoid putting your axes too close to each other. Orientate yourself towards concave areas, hollows and small holes that facilitate pick placement. Place the pick at the location you want, for a good precision. The right swing means two things: precision and firmness.

ice climbing beginners guide

When cocking your arm, the axe-head must go only a little bit behind your shoulders. The swing is a mixture of shoulder and wrist movement. For good pick penetration in the ice, don't forget to rather loosen your grip on the axe, maintaining your wrist firmly lined up with the swing. It's important that the pick enters the ice perpendicularly, and make sure that it stays aligned with the arc of the swing. When the position is improper, the axe rebounds. On this case, redo your swing.

Make a Good Ice Screw Placement

A number of observations can let you know about how good is your placement. Begin with the aid of noting the penetration of the pick into the ice. Pay attention to the areas of fragile ice created by the strike, quite often known as "dinner plates". If you are in doubt, clean them and redo the swing.

A firm, somewhat sharp sound, with a lingering vibration, are the good clues that you just made the right placement. You will become better at assessing placement with experience. It's usually with time and experience that you'll gain knowledge of methods to end up a better ice climber, refining your method, and judging ice quality.

Ice Screw Placement Is The Key

To broach, don't wait to be in difficulty or fall on an area of rotten ice. Constantly be definite in placing an ice screw before ending up in unpleasant circumstances. Adopt a relaxed position, arm outstretched on a well-anchored ice ax. Place the ice screw to the hip level to have the optimum force. For ice screw placement, we will distinguish three phases:

learn how to do ice climbing

Step 1: engaging the screw teeth. Make 3 to 5 half rotations without letting go of the ice screw. Press firmly until you feel the teeth start to bite into the ice.

Step 2: while you feel that the pin starts to stand alone within the ice, continue the screwing by successive half rotations. It is a gentle step due to the fact there is a danger drop the spindle while you let go of the spindle.

Step 3: Open the crank and conclude screwing until the pin tab contacts the surface of the ice. When finished, put the crank away and put the rope.

Building an Anchor with Ice Screws

When you build an anchor, hold in mind that it needs to be unbreakable in order to resist high forces and be in a safe and comfortable location. Make sure you to find the right ice spot that is protected from falling pieces of ice. Position a primary ice screw. Clip it with a screw carabiner on which you come to lie by.

Place the second ice screwer at a good distance from the primary, not less than 50 cm. Appreciate the foundations of excellent triangulation of anchor facets. Decide on an attitude lower than or equal to 60 degrees. Lie to your second strand of rope. Finish the passage of the strap within the carabiners. Consider adjusting the lengths of the strands of rope to make yourself comfortable: you never know how long you will be there. Your anchor is made with a constant low triangulation point. This avoids a shock too strong on the anchor in case of breakage of one of the anchor points.

beginners ice climbing

Be sure to wrap the rope on either side of your foot to avert a bag of knots. Eventually, install the rope for your belay gadget. You might be capable to insure your second. When your second arrives, he anticipates and locations himself preferably on the aspect of the next length. He should tie on the anchor with the rope on a fundamental carabiner. Should you climb in reversible, switch your belay gadget on you. Before leaving, the climber should place a protection point close to the anchor and clip the second rope immediately to the protection point

This eliminates the risk of a factor to fall on to the anchor. Once this point of protection has been placed, the climber can unclick the other rope from the anchor and leaves in the following length. Stick to a solid ice climbing guide and your screws should always stay firmly placed.

Building a V Thread

For building a V thread you'll want about 7 mm minimal diameter chord, a v thread hook like the MULTIHOOK, a 21 cm long ice screw and a excellent dose of dexterity.  We suggest you do some training previously on the ground. Begin by using going along a spit.

women ice climbing

After cleansing the surface of the glass, drill a primary gap at desired angle. Make a second hole trying to intersect with the prior hole as far as possible. Grab the cord utilizing the MULTIHOOK. Join the two ends with a single knot or a decent double knot. Be careful to adjust the size of the ring created so that it is not too tight. That you could then install your rope instantly in the ring. To counter the descent of the primary one, that you would be able to couple your V thread with a spindle.

For example, you should utilize the pin on which you are lying. Make sure there's not too much slack within the strap to hinder too much shock in case of V thread rupture.

Higher to directly join the strap in the rope in case of breakage of the wire of the V thread. Installed your abseiling system. Don't forget to identify the strand to be pulled with the aid of clipping this strand. You are now ready to descend!

Ice Climb Multi Repels

To descend rapidly without having to leave gear, you can undertake the dry lunula method. And you're going to not leave a trace of your passage! You simply need to cross your rope directly by way of the lunula. Be definite to pull the right strand of rope on the knot side.

This method has the capabilities of being speedy, most economical and clean, however you need to be vigilant on the possible refreeze rope in the holes within the lunula. As with the basic v thread, which you could counter-secure the descent of the first with another spindle.

Take the time to gain knowledge of and repeat the strategies offered in a trustworthy atmosphere, especially when ice climbing for beginners, before doing them in an actual obstacle. So what are you ready for? Catch your picks and just right ice!

Author - Fred Felton
Fred Felton          

Content Creator / Editor

Fred Felton is a copywriter, editor and social media specialist based in Durban, South Africa. He has over 20 years of experience in creating high end content. He has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world. Currently Fred specialises in the winter outdoors space, focussing on skiing and snowboarding. He is also a keynote speaker and has presented talks and workshops in South Africa.


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