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PeakDream

Road to WI5!

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Now that ice season is over, my friend and I went drinking the other day and started talking about next season. He's applying back to engineering school so he has the whole winter off (Dec-Feb). He just started ice climbing with me this season. It took awhile for him to get used to climbing (he doesn't rock climb, but will start this season). He now follows WI-3/4 comfortably, just started leading WI-3 (15 total days on ice). He asked me how to become a WI-5 leader! Well, I don't lead WI-5. So I told him just go to Banff or Cody and climb for three months straight everyday. After that, he'll be ready for WI-5. Regardless of the outcome, I'm sure he'll have a ton of fun.

 

I'm asking the wisemen here, is that sound advice? How long did it take you to become a WI-5 leader?

 

Cheers!

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Learn to place screws quickly. Learn to climb quickly. Dont match placements , always advance your swing. Take advantage of rests, and learn to stem. Dont overgrip. Get a high screw in and race up the steep sections to a rest. I like a leash on my left for a bone hang while placing a screw.

Also, forget 5 go straight to 6

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I placed a couple of those on the N face of Chair this season (like that but quite a bit shorter). They are my dad's from who knows when. Not to bad once you get it started. And it felt bomber. Probably the last time I do that though.

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Efficiency of climbing techniques, as Wayne eluded to. Repetition (climb frequently), practice these skills and be comfortable. Base strength of arm, back and core muscles, which will come from lots of climbing and body weight exercises.

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GREAT picture Off! And you are absolutly right, ice is a lot easier with the most modern gear.

 

Being in shape? Obviously it helps. My thought is now a days if you can climb a vertical 5.9 hand crack you can climb WI5 in decent conditions.

 

Fastest way to get up WI5? Besides the obvious of spending the amount of time required on technical ice and technical rock? Some others have already mentioned but worth repeating again.

 

Learn to read the ice from below and take the time to do it...both for consistancy (hard or soft, good or bad pro) and most importantly the easiest line.

 

Get a modern set of high clearence tools specifically designed for leashless and learn how to match and traverse on them efficently. Leashless because it makes hard ice much, much easier. Figure out what "over driven" is and then don't.

 

Learn how to tune/sharpen your picks.

 

Use the absolute lightest weight glove you can keep warm in.

 

If your hands are getting cold mostly likely reason is you're over gripping. Don't. It is a waste of energy.

 

Climb on a good set of horizontal front point crampons, they offer more support than verts on pure ice, securely clipped to your choice of well fitting, rigid soled boots. Ice just like rock is about using your feet..look for natural places to stand and think rock climbing moves like a high step, stemming or a back step if it is more efficent.

 

Drop your arms and shake often just like rock climbing...before you get pumped. You're hands will stay warmer and you'll climb faster and stronger because of it. Milk the rests where you can.

 

Get either Grivel Helix or BD Express screws they are some of the easiest to place.

 

Learn how to set up and rack your gear efficently..and stick to just 8 or 10 screws for a while. Too much shit is..well too much shit. Think, dress, and sort your gear to be light.

 

Learn to place/clip the screws efficently.

 

Find out what the A frame and X frame basics are for ice climbing body positions. As Wayne mentioned previously avoid matching the tool placements in a X or A frame position.

 

Then learn how to really extend off every single placement using the A frame pattern with every move. The idea is make as few tool placements as possible on every pitch. Matching/tool hooking will extend your reach even more and eliminate one placement.

 

Use a good pair of umbilicals and a set of screamers to save you/tools when you screw up.

 

Sort much of this out on a top rope first.......

 

 

Gadd's book and the Petzl catalog are good reads for technique.

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"My thought is now a days if you can climb a vertical 5.9 hand crack you can climb WI5 in decent conditions." sure, if by "decent" you mean picked-out plastic hero ice with bomber pro.

 

i'm more of a wise-ass but your friend might be wise to also learn to place screws with either hand. if you're not on "decent" ice or aren't aiming for a beautiful weakness, over-reaching with your swings may result in wasted energy if you don't get a secure stick. matching (tools at same level vs. one hooked over the other or hand matching) is gonna happen sometimes but be careful not to place the tools too close together.

 

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Worth mentioning, with the right tools, and the right conditions solid sticks become less important. Hooking can become a percentage of the placements. For anyone looking to up their own standards I'd suggest looking for and trusting easy hooks as much as a good stick in bad ice.

 

It all boils down to simple energy conservation.

 

Rat makes a good point. Over reaching will lift your heels and pop your crampon points out of the ice. Never a good thing. Make sure you get full extension for every placement and it can take some concerted effort..just don't lift your heels to do so. Work at extension but don't make getting a good stick overly difficult for yourself. Climbing at full extension is one place I think most blow a chance to save energy on steep ice and the best take advantage of every time.

 

Good practice is a top rope on a piece of steep ice. Then do laps and see just how many sticks you need to get it done. The idea is to lower the number of tool placements every lap. Push till you start popping your feet then back off and get your heels back down for good feet again.

 

Wayne and Rat both caution on placing tools too close together. Rule of thumb, avoid tools placed at the same height or within 10 to 12" of each other. Which is "placing your picks too close together". Bad idea for several reasons..not efficent movement it the tools are at the same height and easy to pop out both picks on a dinner plate as the second tool goes in if the picks are within a foot or less of each other.

 

Matching hands on your tool (best done on two handed tools like a Cobra, Fusion, Nomic) to eliminate a stick or hooking a pick with your other tool and moving the original tool's hand to the higher grip are both economical ways to get higher on your tools/the ice, move your feet up, and avoid the effort and energy required for another stick.

 

Being able to hang off a single tool (matching hands) and being able to shift both hands from the upper and lower grip at random and shake should allow you to place screws with less effort as well.

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the Petzl catalog are good reads for technique.

I could not agree more.

I keep these and flip through them often, as a reminder and continuing education.

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when wi5 feels like 5.9, hooking is damn close to 100% of the placements. then again, i'm weak and lack the "right" tools.

 

i wasn't differentiating between swinging and hooking when referring to sticks. i agree that taking advantage of any hookable features (holes, spaces between icicles, ledges, etc.) is a skill that will transport you to the land of milk and honey where all the routes are doable, even the hard ones.

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Read Will Gadd's "Ice and Mixed climbing". It will tell you everything you need to know, focus on tracking your tools, and the "putting it together" sections. Using new and modern gear will make life really easy on you. WI5 should feel like 5.10, WI6 should feel like 5.11-, and WI7 feels like 5.11+.

 

Same as everything mentioned above, but LEAVE YOUR WRIST LEASHES AT HOME!!! Leashes are a thing of the past and should not be used by anyone for anything. Climbing is much much easier and less pumpy without them. Anyone using a leash is likely using old, low clearance tools. Or they are just love to punish themselves and make life hell. Umbilicals are OK and nice to have for longer climbs.

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"when wi5 feels like 5.9, hooking is damn close to 100% of the placements"

 

OK may be I was a little over the top but I was thinking perfect hero ice and Nomics..verses the 2nd pitch of Reeds :) I get tired on Reeds!

 

Spiderman refers to "tracking" in Gadd's book..which is the old X and A platform stuff...very, very important.

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Read Will Gadd's "Ice and Mixed climbing". It will tell you everything you need to know, focus on tracking your tools, and the "putting it together" sections.

 

Practice these techniques early and often on top rope, 5's will feel easy. You will learn more technique in 1 day top roping then 10 leading.

 

Most ice climbers in pnw have horrible technique. The ones that have good technique climb quite hard. That is literally all you need to know. Climb ice with good technique and its easy, unless the ice is brittle and shitty but there is the fun in it.

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Great advices! I can learn some of it too. Yea, I taught him to do the "A" frame instead of "X" frame from day one. I'll look at tracking from Will's book. I learned climbing from the monkey hang style from the classic "Ice World", very good but too slow!

 

He got himself a pair of nomics and Sabretooth. The issue he has is he gets pumped out on WI-4s very quickly. I can't always tell from the top. Maybe he's gripping harder once he's on steep ice.

 

Anyway, I passed along this thread to him and he might just post his progression this winter! Bastard is gonna climb three months of Banff and Cody!

 

This is just for my own sake, I lead a WI-5, got wicked pump in my arms. Do you monkey hangs on "A" frame?

 

Edited by PeakDream

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