Ice Climbing Education


Original Post
Michael weidel · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 0

Hello everyone,
I'm new to ice climbing; I took a brief intro class last year in Ouray and really enjoyed it. I'm looking for anyone who has experience and has input on the following:

(1) Recommended ice climbing schools (for further education)
(2) Recommended crampons
(3) Recommended ice tools
(4) Recommended areas to climb at (good volume of beginner climbs that I can get into leading on, as well as any recommended guide services for those areas).

Thank you; all input is appreciated.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 40

Where you live?

Tryout lots of crampons and tools yourself before you buy.

Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 105
Michael weidel wrote:(4) Recommended areas to climb at (good volume of beginner climbs that I can get into leading on, as well as any recommended guide services for those areas). Thank you; all input is appreciated.
This is just a concept rather than a hard fast "rule", but most people recommend you have A LOT (i can't remember the number) of days on ice before you start leading.

This isn't rock climbing. You can impale yourself. Basically you are climbing on a changing medium while covered in sharp spikes.
coppolillo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 0

Get to an ice fest and demo as many tools/crampons as you can...

I got a set of Cassin Dreams last year and they're like free strength--awesome! Their Blade Runner crampons are a bit spendy, but fantastic, too---you can swap between mono- and dual-points, vertical or horizontal.

Not sure where you live, but if you're in the East, head up to North Conway, hire Marc Chauvin and do a day or two with him...one-on-one instruction will improve your game faster than anything. Good moderates, mellow approaches there, too.

If you're out West....tons to do! Ouray, Lake City, Lincoln Falls (near Breck) all good moderate/intro stuff...

Good luck man...

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0

Ice climbing is a little different, in my opinion, from moving from TR rock to leading on rock. Ice climbing takes a lot of practice to get smooth and comfortable on the ice so that it's intuitive, then you can take on leading some pitches.

If you're near Ouray, just go there a few times this Winter and top rope a bunch of routes. Just get in lap after lap after lap. Tons of variety there too.

If you go during the ice fest you can demo some ice tools, crampons, boots, etc. There are demo days there during other times as well if you check around.

Everyone has their favorite ice tools so there isn't one good model to buy, same with crampons. I personally love my Cassin X-all mountain, and Cassin Blade Runner in mono, but my usual partner loves his DMM Apex tools and Petzl crampons set up with offset dual points. Ice climbing is a giant, expensive, fun rabbit hole that will suck you in.

Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 105

Just for thoughts on tools swing as many as you can. If I was to get new tools I'd probably go for the Cassins of some variation, but honestly I've never been able to out climb my BD vipers. Got them super cheap in the summer, and they climb harder than I ever

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 1,875

"Ice climbing is a little different, in my opinion, from moving from TR rock to leading on rock. Ice climbing takes a lot of practice to get smooth and comfortable on the ice so that it's intuitive, then you can take on leading some pitches."

Can't stress the above enough.

Back in the Dark Ages (1970s), one of the key how-to-climb type books said that one can become proficient on rock in one year, but to get to the same level on ice takes five years. Better equipment has made a huge difference since then; I'd say maybe now it's three years. Still there is much more to it than rock climbing, despite the apparent simplicity of "whack whack, kick kick".

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 0
Gunkiemike wrote:"Ice climbing is a little different, in my opinion, from moving from TR rock to leading on rock. Ice climbing takes a lot of practice to get smooth and comfortable on the ice so that it's intuitive, then you can take on leading some pitches." Can't stress the above enough. Back in the Dark Ages (1970s), one of the key how-to-climb type books said that one can become proficient on rock in one year, but to get to the same level on ice takes five years. Better equipment has made a huge difference since then; I'd say maybe now it's three years. Still there is much more to it than rock climbing, despite the apparent simplicity of "whack whack, kick kick".
I did lots of top rope laps my firs two years. I finally felt like I could probably lead something at the end of my 2nd year.

And so many types of ice to learn how to climb and place protection in. Plastic, bullet, chandelier, mushroom, snice, rotten gray ice, slush, hollow. You'll climb a pitch one day and it will be perfect plastic, go back another day and every swing is knocking dinner plates onto you and it takes 2-4 times as many swings as normal to get something to stick. Not something you want to learn about while you're also learning to lead and place screws.
BigB · · Red Rock, NV · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 5

Or you could go do this and get "on the job" training...
https://youtu.be/ZKWgga0_pcw

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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