Get to Know Your Gear this week will focus on Ice Climbing Tools.
What is Ice Climbing – Ice climbing is an adventurous sport that integrates rock climbing with winter weather covered terrain. The tools involved in ice climbing are similar to the ones used in rock climbing, but with the addition of an ice tool (ice axe) and crampons, and of course, cold weather gear.
How do you use an ice tool and crampons – An ice tool looks similar to a hammer, having a long “pick” on one side of the ice tool’s head and a shorter “adze” on the other side. The pick is used to impale the snow or ice during the ascent. When climbing, the pick should always face the snow or ice so it can be effectively used if the climber slips or begins to fall. The adze, the smaller shovel looking side, is used more for chopping small steps and can be used when self-belaying. Beginners are advised to use the leashed type, which has a wrist wrap to ensure the axe doesn’t fall to the ground if dropped. Crampons are attached to the climber’s boots and consist of multiple thick metal points protruding from the outward from the bottom of the boot. They greatly improve traction on ice and can be used to kick foot holds during climbing.
When should you Ice Climb – Ice climbing is a winter sport focusing on climbing icefalls, frozen waterfalls and cliffs or rock slabs covered with ice and packed snow. Once the free flowing water becomes completely frozen, the ice climbing season begins. Knowing when it is safe to climb comes with experience, but consistent below-freezing weather is usually a good sign ice climbing will start soon.
Keep in mind, crampons and ice tools are available for rent from the Outdoor Recreation Center throughout the winter season. Ice climbing is a great form of exercise and allows you to enjoy the outdoors during the winter months.