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Ice Gear - Where do you go?

Original Post
Mikeyy Blisz · · Glendale Heights, IL · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 175

Hi All,

I was wondering where one might go around Chicagoland suburbs to try on a pair of mountaineer / ice boots. I'm a rock climber looking to get into ice this season. Do you have any sizing tips? Is it safe to assume that the mountaineer boots are sized normally, as opposed to ultra tight rock shoes?

Any of the climbing stores in the area have ice gear that one might look at?

Any advice, much appreciated!

Mike B

Joe Z. · · Prairie du Sac, WI · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 120

Order several sizes from REI and return what you don't like.

jon jugenheimer · · Madison, WI · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 2,149

Give Moossejaw a call, they might have a boot on the wall to check out.

Otherwise yes, order from REI, ship to the store for free to try on and buy what fits.

Otherwise the closest drive to try on boots is Midwest Mountaineering in Minneapolis, Downwind sports in Marquette and The front range of Colorado.....

Mikeyy Blisz · · Glendale Heights, IL · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 175

Thanks guys,

I will give moosejaw a call - and maybe erehwon? I did the whole order and return route with my rock shoes until I figured out sizing and hated it.

As far as ordering a bunch all at once: Maybe I'll get the money together to order a bunch and then return, but I'm sure my compulsive gear ordering will prevent that, or any pile of money from lasting too long in general. Looks like frozen pizza and ramen if I do that route

While I have your ear, some gear advice?

There's 3 types of crampons too? The strap-ons, the ones for the toe welt and the in-between hybrids?

Do I need an aggressive Ice-tool style axe (think starved rock and wyalusing at best) or can I get by with the hybrids which are cheaper? The ice climbing instructional books I have people are using basic ice axes with bent shaft and not the high-end aggressive ones. You think one of these stores might have axes to hold and "feel out"?

Woodchuck ATC · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 3,110

Hey Mikeyy,,,PM sent with info and connections to local ice gear and climbing. PM or email back anytime.

Mikeyy Blisz · · Glendale Heights, IL · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 175

Sweet! Mark thanks for sending me the additional info.

Now to find a way to hide these from my significant other :/

"What? I got the whole lot off some sucker at a garage sale for about $50"

Woodchuck ATC · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 3,110

Yeah, you are entering into big money sport. 200 bucks is cheap for good boots, 200 more at least for vertical ice crampons. and ice tools??/Crap....they run 250 for each one these days at least if you are thinking good gear and steep ice. But you can always find a pair of old leashed 'madam hook's for like 75 bucks a pair here at MP sale pages. Good timing too, as ice freaks will be out shopping for the newest stuff for the upcoming season and unload their old stuff for pennies just to get something back on them. Check it out,, nothing is more fun than getting hit on the head and face by flying ice shards and bowling balls from above all day long in below zero temps out in the middle of nowhere in the UP or Canada.

BryanV Vernetson · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Nov 2008 · Points: 120

Ice is nice. Have fun hunting in the midwest for ice. There are some good spots.

I might look at Sierra Trading Post for boots and ice gear as well.……

Guy Keesee · · Moorpark, CA · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 310

Mikeyy..... Hi, I bought a bunch of stuff from REI here in So. California.

After I got to Canada for the trip, we went to a climbing store in Jasper.

Boy o boy was I shocked.

That shop had the biggest collection of Ice Tools imaginable and the two dudes who ran the shop had real knowledge about every item on the shelf.

I ended up getting some crampons that were much more suited to the type of conditions that we were encountering.

Looks like you have got some good advise up-thread, enjoy climbing the ice.

A whole new world of climbing is out there for you once you know how to get down with the tools.


Mikeyy Blisz · · Glendale Heights, IL · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 175

Good 'ol Sierra Trading post - they just layer on the coupons. I got one of my ropes and a helmet there, among miscellaneous other items. I was looking at the Edelrid hybrid axe / tool on there. Is it a real struggle to use one of these on ice, vs. those super aggressive looking, "Ice tools"?

Woodchuck ATC · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 3,110

Just checked STP and see they have Edelrid 'Riot' hammers for 119. It's a way better tool for a starter than most would be. Price is good. Check and see if they have extra pics too for that model, either at STP or direct from Edelrid or other big distributer,,just in case you need to replace. No fun finding a discontinued tool also means a discontinued pic. And get two hammers, skp the axe with adze on it...hardly in need these days for steep ice climbs.

Mikeyy Blisz · · Glendale Heights, IL · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 175

Step 1! Looking forward to seeing some of you out there!

ice gear
Woodchuck ATC · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 3,110

I thought those tools looked more aggressive in the catalog pics. And DO pad that axe adze end, or remove it if you want. They just end up in your forehead when you least expect it.

Mikeyy Blisz · · Glendale Heights, IL · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 175

Hopefully they are aggressive enough, they feel like it! If not, sling (leash) attachments might help? It is their second "most aggressive" with the "Rage" model being the most. I think the angle of the picture I took makes them look less aggressive, too. In the accompanying booklet they say this model is sufficient for vertical ice, maybe not so much overhangs and overhang-y drytooling, etc. There are 2 other less aggressive models below this as well according to booklet

The crampons are flexible for many boots too, if you look at the attachments - although you can't just go from toe/heel welt clips to the other clip style without having to undo all the straps and pulling the clips apart from their attachment holes.

I didn't listen and got one in an adze model as I wanted to try some of the techniques in the ice, mixed and mountaineer books I'm pouring over. The axes do come with this "spoiler" looking plastic bit that can replace the hammer or adze easily, though. I might get some "finger rest" attachments for the shaft too, I assume these might make certain maneuvers and hangs easier?

Woodchuck ATC · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 3,110

Looks like the bottom already has an attached finger rest for below the hand. Upper ones come in handy if you do a lot of steep leashless tool changing from hand to hand. Thus more curved, aggressive pics and handles help out for that too. We create a lot of steep to overhanging ice here at the silo in past years. Some, but not always a lot at Starved Rock outdoors. They should be fine, just sharpen up the pics and get rid of any negative' angled pic points for steep ice. Often factory pics are not 'tuned up' for our ice needs and although they are sharp and stick great, they often are not tuned to 'take out' easily from the ice. More on that later when we can look over some tools when you are down here.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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