Route Guide    Partners    Forum    Photos    What's New    Journal        
Sign Up  |   Log In:Login with Facebook
REI Community
Beginner Ice Climber Advice
View Latest Posts in This Forum or All Forums
Page 1 of 2.  1  2   Next>   Last>>
Follow replies to this topic? Notify me at the top of web site.
1

Email me.
 
Oct 27, 2015
I'm an experienced 4 season hiker and I've dealt with a lot of cold steep snow climbs in New Hampshire's white mountains in the winter. I have experience hiking with a standard mountaineering ax above treeline in crampons.

That being said, the pursuit of a rush hasn't worn off. Ice climbing has fascinated me for years and I'd love to get into it. However, I'm a general climbing newbie and the extent of my climbing experiencing is top roping in a gym environment and easy bouldering outdoors.

Just wondering how realistic it might be for me to get on the ice? I plan on hiring one of the numerous guide services in NH this winter to take me out on a "ice climbing 101" type of course. I'm just wondering what I'll get out of that? How many beginner courses will I need before I can venture out on my own toprope trips? I don't lead on rock, is it still possible to lead ice? What is the minimum gear someone should own to get into the sport? (I currently have real mountaineering boots, a harness, belay device, carabiners, the basiscs...)

Sorry for the dummy questions. I'm just ambitious. Any advice is appreciated.
DDillon
From Tewksbury
Joined Feb 20, 2015
95 points
Oct 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Cannon
Its not dumb, and its good of you to reach out.

I think youll find that most folks suggest leading on rock as being a prerequisite for leading on ice and most folks accept the standard of having 100 pitches of top roped ice before you lead (though its usually far less than that before folks actually lead).

The above treeline experience you have is helpful but moreso because you knwo how the cold effects your body and how to move on ice and snow. climbing waterfall ice and hiking above treeline share some similarities but they really are very different activities. I know you know that.

Go top rope a bunch of ice as long as you know how to set up a proper top rope anchor.

I guess id suggest getting more experience as a climber in general and hiring a guide for a day of climbing this winter. tell them you want to know how to set up anchors on trees/bolts/ice.

Zac.St.Jules
From New Hampshire
Joined Dec 20, 2013
1,176 points
Oct 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Descending the knife edge ridge on Aiguille du Mid...
You'll get a lot out of guiding services here in NH. The vast majority of them are top notch. I'd also check out the Mt Washington Valley Ice Festival which usually takes place the first weekend in February. You can take discounted clinics from guides local and abroad, as well as demo new gear and generally hang out/get an idea of the local climbing scene. It's usually a lot of fun, and very worthwhile for a newbie. Mike Hasse
From Lebanon, NH
Joined Nov 11, 2010
346 points
Oct 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Expatriot
Don't do it! You can only be two things while ice climbing: Freezing your ass off or scared shitless. Sometimes both at the same time. frank minunni
From Las Vegas, NV
Joined May 26, 2011
128 points
Oct 27, 2015
frank minunni wrote:
Don't do it! You can only be two things while ice climbing: Freezing your ass off or scared shitless. Sometimes both at the same time.


Ha! Well I freeze my ass off pretty regularly while winter hiking ;-) but I haven't often been Scared shitless on a trail. well... maybe on Mt. Washington in 50MPH winds wayyyy below zero.

Thanks for the comments everyone, really helpful stuff.!
DDillon
From Tewksbury
Joined Feb 20, 2015
95 points
Oct 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Me eating a cliff bar walking back from Frankenste...
Hire a guide. You can see if you like it. Find out what gear you still need and learn where to go to top rope. If you enjoy ice climbing go out and buy the gear to do so. Go out a few days and run laps. Hire a guide again to teach you proper technique. Toprope a bunch more until you feel you could solo the pitch. When you're that confident you're ready to lead.

You could totally lead ice before rock I did. Just remember never fall leading ice..

Hit me up in February. I'll be in North Conway from the 1st to the 23th. I would be happy to take you out one day.
Bill Kirby
From Baltimore Maryland
Joined Jul 21, 2012
434 points
Oct 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Me eating a cliff bar walking back from Frankenste...
frank minunni wrote:
Don't do it! You can only be two things while ice climbing: Freezing your ass off or scared shitless. Sometimes both at the same time.


You scared shitless? Huh...
Bill Kirby
From Baltimore Maryland
Joined Jul 21, 2012
434 points
Oct 27, 2015
Bill Kirby wrote:
Hire a guide. You can see if you like it. Find out what gear you still need and learn where to go to top rope. If you enjoy ice climbing go out and buy the gear to do so. Go out a few days and run laps. Hire a guide again to teach you proper technique. Toprope a bunch more until you feel you could solo the pitch. When you're that confident you're ready to lead. You could totally lead ice before rock I did. Just remember never fall leading ice.. Hit me up in February. I'll be in North Conway from the 1st to the 23th. I would be happy to take you out one day.


Hey Bill, Thanks for the advice! You'll definitely get a message from me in February.
DDillon
From Tewksbury
Joined Feb 20, 2015
95 points
Oct 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Expatriot
Bill Kirby wrote:
You scared shitless? Huh...


You betcha. Ice always made me nervous. Had a rather bad fall too...Broke my back in three places.

As I recall, it was cold too. So that made me cold, scared shitless and in pain. Not a good combination
frank minunni
From Las Vegas, NV
Joined May 26, 2011
128 points
Oct 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Me eating a cliff bar walking back from Frankenste...
frank minunni wrote:
You betcha. Ice always made me nervous. Had a rather bad fall too...Broke my back in three places. As I recall, it was cold too. So that made me cold, scared shitless and in pain. Not a good combination


First I find out something scares you and now something we have in common?

I broke my back and neck plus a few other bones MTBing. I overshot the landing, missed the turn after and rag dolled down some talus. Spent a week in the hospital, getting high and watching TV with a few surgeries throughout that time. Not to one up you but I wasnt scared when my broken sternum felt like collapsed lung, my hand was turned 90 degrees to the left. I was alone so all I could think about was finding someone before I bled out. I first time I felt scared was when the paramedics were shocked I walked and called a helicopter. The second time was when the doctor said if I hit a millimeter harder I would be in a wheelchair. Another millimeter and I would be dead. I wore armor that day because I never had ridden those trails. I used to never wear any pads cause it ain't cool.
Bill Kirby
From Baltimore Maryland
Joined Jul 21, 2012
434 points
Oct 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Expatriot
Bill Kirby wrote: First I find out something scares you and now something we have in common?


How can that be? Run!!! The earth is spinning off its axis!
There's always something in common. Being human is a start. And while I've done a couple of bold routes from time to time, I never said I didn't get scared. I was scared quite a bit, even if I knew what I was getting myself into before hand.

Definitely an ouch on those injuries. Sorry to hear that. The healing is the hardest part.
frank minunni
From Las Vegas, NV
Joined May 26, 2011
128 points
Oct 27, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Gear
Check out: North East Ice Thats an ICE climbing specific site…tons of ppl to help you out there. RockinOut
From NY, NY
Joined May 8, 2010
106 points
Oct 28, 2015
RockinOut wrote:
Check out: North East Ice Thats an ICE climbing specific site…tons of ppl to help you out there.


Thanks! I've been on NEIce but it's a little slow this time of year until the ice starts to really come in. I appreciate all of the advice! I think I'm going to take NortheastMountaineering's "accelerated ice climb" course which is 3 days long and covers a lot of ground including building ice anchors. Pretty Stoked!
DDillon
From Tewksbury
Joined Feb 20, 2015
95 points
Oct 28, 2015
Dave Dillon wrote:
Just wondering how realistic it might be for me to get on the ice? I plan on hiring one of the numerous guide services in NH this winter to take me out on a "ice climbing 101" type of course. I'm just wondering what I'll get out of that? How many beginner courses will I need before I can venture out on my own toprope trips? I don't lead on rock, is it still possible to lead ice? What is the minimum gear someone should own to get into the sport? (I currently have real mountaineering boots, a harness, belay device, carabiners, the basiscs...) Sorry for the dummy questions. I'm just ambitious. Any advice is appreciated.


1. totally realistic...in fact you have great experience because you know how to stay warm in the cold. you will learn a lot more about this.

2. you will get a ton out of an ice climbing 101 course. Definitely the most effective way to get into the sport. From there you will meet friends. But you will know the basics and know if your partner is good or not. Do your course early in the season so you can get a whole winter out of it.

3. not a problem that you don't lead on rock. Ice is easier to lead than rock. Don't shy from getting lots and lots of toprope practice. Beginners through elite climbers do toprope laps to get better.

4. Minimum gear- sounds like you have it to get started on the 101 course. From there you will know what to get next (but that will include crampons and tools). You might want to get gloves that are good for ice climbing before your trip (and bring warm mittens for keeping hands warm). You'll find tons of advice on gloves by searching Mtn project.

have fun! Climbing a frozen waterfall is one of the most beautiful things in the world.
JohnnyG
Joined Nov 30, 2009
33 points
Oct 28, 2015
JohnnyG wrote:
1. totally realistic...in fact you have great experience because you know how to stay warm in the cold. you will learn a lot more about this. 2. you will get a ton out of an ice climbing 101 course. Definitely the most effective way to get into the sport. From there you will meet friends. But you will know the basics and know if your partner is good or not. Do your course early in the season so you can get a whole winter out of it. 3. not a problem that you don't lead on rock. Ice is easier to lead than rock. Don't shy from getting lots and lots of toprope practice. Beginners through elite climbers do toprope laps to get better. 4. Minimum gear- sounds like you have it to get started on the 101 course. From there you will know what to get next (but that will include crampons and tools). You might want to get gloves that are good for ice climbing before your trip (and bring warm mittens for keeping hands warm). You'll find tons of advice on gloves by searching Mtn project. have fun! Climbing a frozen waterfall is one of the most beautiful things in the world.


Great advice, thanks! Yes I have a lot of experieince staying warm in the cold. I've experienced 40 below zero wind, had my eyelids freeze together... the whole bit. I think the difference with hiking is that I stay warm by continuing to move, generating heat. Climbing seems tough when you're sitting at a belay.

I actually do own proper boots and crampons. Scarpa Phantom Guides and BD Cyborgs. I use them for above treeline travel in the Northern Presi's on gnarley forecasted days.

Gloves and mittens I should have covered... several pairs, varying thicknesses and liners.

Thanks a lot, really looking forward to this ice season. Trying to choose a good week to take the 3 day course with NE Mountaineering. I'm guessing Jan/Feb is a good time for ice conditions?
DDillon
From Tewksbury
Joined Feb 20, 2015
95 points
Oct 28, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Somewhere on Prusik Peak.
I personally don't agree with the "100 toprope pitches before you lead" thing. It's more about starting to lead when you feel comfortable and confident with proper ice technique. For me, it was after about 50 pitches. For others, it might be 200. Nick Sweeney
From Spokane, WA
Joined Jun 8, 2013
672 points
Oct 28, 2015
JohnnyG wrote:
1. totally realistic...in fact you have great experience because you know how to stay warm in the cold. you will learn a lot more about this. 2. you will get a ton out of an ice climbing 101 course. Definitely the most effective way to get into the sport. From there you will meet friends. But you will know the basics and know if your partner is good or not. Do your course early in the season so you can get a whole winter out of it. 3. not a problem that you don't lead on rock. Ice is easier to lead than rock. Don't shy from getting lots and lots of toprope practice. Beginners through elite climbers do toprope laps to get better. 4. Minimum gear- sounds like you have it to get started on the 101 course. From there you will know what to get next (but that will include crampons and tools). You might want to get gloves that are good for ice climbing before your trip (and bring warm mittens for keeping hands warm). You'll find tons of advice on gloves by searching Mtn project. have fun! Climbing a frozen waterfall is one of the most beautiful things in the world.

Ice 101 isn't the most efficient way, but it's probably the most cost-effective. If you can afford it, hire a guide 1-on-1 or with one other person you'll get more out of it with a good guide. You should also look into making experienced friends, not the friends you'll make in a 101 course. ;-) Later on you can return the favor to newbies.

Definitely agree about doing it early in the season. Ideally, do an intro day and then some moderate multipitch with the guide. I bet you'll really dig the multipitch stuff with your snow slog background.

You could also learn to set up topropes, belay, build anchors, place protection, rope management, etc., now.
AThomas
Joined Aug 13, 2011
25 points
Oct 28, 2015
AThomas wrote:
Ice 101 isn't the most efficient way, but it's probably the most cost-effective. If you can afford it, hire a guide 1-on-1 or with one other person you'll get more out of it with a good guide. You should also look into making experienced friends, not the friends you'll make in a 101 course. ;-) Later on you can return the favor to newbies. Definitely agree about doing it early in the season. Ideally, do an intro day and then some moderate multipitch with the guide. I bet you'll really dig the multipitch stuff with your snow slog background. You could also learn to set up topropes, belay, build anchors, place protection, rope management, etc., now.


Great stuff! How early is too early? I don't want to schedule a course and then have thin ice to work with. I know Black Dike on Cannon was climbed on October 20th but things have warmed up since then. Maybe Late December is a good time?

Honestly the whole reason I want to get into it is for multi-pitch gully climbs in New Hampshire! Think Pinnacle , shoestring, hancock, etc... Love the idea of topping out near a summit. Mixing hiking and climbing for some technical adventures.

I'd love to make some experienced friends... but I literally know no one who climbs (rock or ice). Maybe I'll just start lurking around Frankenstein cliffs asking people if they want to grab a beer.
DDillon
From Tewksbury
Joined Feb 20, 2015
95 points
Oct 28, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Competing in the 2015 Ouray Elite Mixed Competitio...
What makes you say leading ice is easier than leading rock? I'd definitely disagree with that. Maybe ice climbing is physically easier than most rock, but there's a lot more at play, the protection is more difficult, and the consequences are definitely higher! Don't fall leading ice! CCChanceR
From Bozeman, MT
Joined Aug 20, 2012
51 points
Administrator
Oct 28, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: OMG!
How come no one has said the obvious? Muscrat
Joined Oct 27, 2011
3,553 points
Oct 28, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Competing in the 2015 Ouray Elite Mixed Competitio...
Yer gunna die? CCChanceR
From Bozeman, MT
Joined Aug 20, 2012
51 points
Administrator
Oct 28, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: OMG!
CCChanceR wrote:
Yer gunna die?

+1 The Winner!
Muscrat
Joined Oct 27, 2011
3,553 points
Oct 28, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Expatriot
CCChanceR wrote:
Yer gunna die?

Probably, but if you do, there's always next week.
frank minunni
From Las Vegas, NV
Joined May 26, 2011
128 points
Oct 28, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Me eating a cliff bar walking back from Frankenste...
CCChanceR wrote:
What makes you say leading ice is easier than leading rock? I'd definitely disagree with that. Maybe ice climbing is physically easier than most rock, but there's a lot more at play, the protection is more difficult, and the consequences are definitely higher! Don't fall leading ice!


The climbing should be super casual, the pro is easier to place correctly and you place way less pro on a pitch of ice.

I agree with you about the consequences. It seems like less and less leaders believe in that these days.


Nick, think about this a beginner could easily complete 100 pitches in one week on a climbing vacation. That's five days of 20 laps of TR.
Bill Kirby
From Baltimore Maryland
Joined Jul 21, 2012
434 points
Oct 28, 2015
Dave Dillon wrote:
Great stuff! How early is too early? I don't want to schedule a course and then have thin ice to work with. I know Black Dike on Cannon was climbed on October 20th but things have warmed up since then. Maybe Late December is a good time? Honestly the whole reason I want to get into it is for multi-pitch gully climbs in New Hampshire! Think Pinnacle , shoestring, hancock, etc... Love the idea of topping out near a summit. Mixing hiking and climbing for some technical adventures. I'd love to make some experienced friends... but I literally know no one who climbs (rock or ice). Maybe I'll just start lurking around Frankenstein cliffs asking people if they want to grab a beer.

Lurking around Frankenstein (or IME) is not a terrible idea -- especially if you're a good judge of people.

It all depends on the weather. You're rolling the dice when booking ahead of time, but you may risk not being able to find a guide if you don't book in advance. If you can go mid-week, obviously, I'd say just wait until people start posting ice reports online and then call whomever to get out ASAP.

Hitchcock Gully would be a fun objective for you after you get a solid few days in, depending on your fitness and climbing ability. I have some relative beginner friends that I'll probably be getting out with this winter. Keep in touch. We may do an early-season Adirondacks or NH trip. Probably mostly toprope, confidence building.
AThomas
Joined Aug 13, 2011
25 points
Oct 28, 2015
One possibility:

amcbostonclimbers.com/events-c... to ice climb

Most folks that take it have more rock experience though
Eric Engberg
Joined Apr 28, 2009
2 points


Follow replies to this topic? Notify me at the top of web site.
1

Email me.
Page 1 of 2.  1  2   Next>   Last>>