Ice climbing - The challenge presented by bizarre ice formations.
Just a few years ago ice climbing was a discipline reserved for only the most hardcore of alpinists. And even today, ice climbing calls for a high level of fitness, knowledge, discipline and courage. However, equipment and access to ice falls and steep ice has improved so much so that the sport is now accessible to a wide group of mountain sports enthusiasts.
The term ice climbing covers a broad spectrum, ranging from ascents through ice fields to climbing freestanding ice falls. It is one of the most fascinating mountaineering disciplines and requires a good set of equipment and knowledge to move safely around the ice.
Ice climbing gear
Essential equipment for ice climbing are two ice tools, crampons designed for use in the ice, a set of ice screws and other portable belay devices:
Ice tools: Subject to the climber's personal taste. A distinction is generally made between ice tools for touring and ice tools for steep ice. Ice tools feature either a hammer for hooks or a shovel. The ideal weight and the balance of the tool is highly dependent on the physical abilities of the climber and the area of use. High-quality ice tools are available from various manufacturers such as Petzl, Black Diamond and Austri Alpin.
Ice screws: a well placed ice screw can form a very good belay in solid ice. They are razor-sharp and the thread holds firmly in the ice. Ice screws by manufacturers such as Petzl, Grivel and Black Diamond are available in different lengths and with or without a folding crank.
Crampons for ice climbing: classic twelve point crampons are typically used for steep ice. They are particularly rigid and have a solid locking mechanism. Depending on personal taste and area of use, crampons for ice climbing are available with mono or double front points.
Finding the right equipment requires a lot of experience and knowledge. Our customer service team is standing by for questions and advice.
Additional ice climbing equipment
In addition to the equipment described above, which is needed specifically for moving around on the ice you will also need the same sort of equipment as used for simple sport climbing or mountaineering. This includes half and twin ropes, which are highly recommend for ice climbing, because the risk of damaging a single rope with crampons or an ice tool is too great.
Depending on the terrain, you may also want some portable belay devices such as nuts, friends and impact hooks. Classic sling material and cords can be used to create a good belay by drilling an Abalakov thread.
Ice climbing also requires clothing of the highest quality - it should be waterproof, or at least highly water-repellent, and offer a great range of motion. Crampon-compatible shoes with a stiff sole are also needed.
And don't forget about the helmet! Models with a clip-on visor are available. Last but not least, a good ice climbing guide will provide you with information about routes and how to set up belay points and anchors before you even leave the house.
Dry tooling and mixed climbing
Dry tooling involves climbing on ice-free rock with equipment similar to that of ice climbing. However, as with mixed climbing, the ice tools and crampons for dry tooling often have a different shape and construction to those used for ice climbing.
With the right equipment and the necessary know-how, ice climbing can be an unparalleled alpine experience in a very unique world of snow, water and ice.