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NWdriver

Getting into Ice climbing...

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Hi all,

 

For a while now I've been wanting to get into ice climbing. I don't have much climbing experience, mostly some rock climbing at my university rock climbing gym on an inconsistent basis. I am an avid hiker, and in pretty good physical shape.

 

I was wondering where I should start to try and get into the sport? I know it is probably a very long progressive path to getting into true ice climbing. I'm in Oregon if that helps. Would practicing more at a climbing gym help, or not since the technique is so drastically different?

 

Where to start?

 

Thanks and sorry for the newbie post.

Edited by NWdriver

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Move from OR to MT and try again in october.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While that is true I can be nice too. Take up rock climbing in the mean time to learn the technical skills and try some steep snow and alpine ice routes to see if its really something you want to do. Its $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ investment.

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You need basic mountaineering skills first. After that get a partner and start climbing crevasses and seracs on some of the glaciers in the summer. Mt. Rainier, Baker, and Hood have areas you can do this.

 

Training: Aside from the all out cardio for mountaineering, do lots of pull-ups and strengthening your core.

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ditto to what said above.

 

get good at rock climbing is a base line for ice climbing. Mandatory? no. But it sure helps you understand even the basics and makes the exposure manageable.

 

Save up your money and hire a guide in banff or bozeman for a couple of days. Do lots of studying till then so you don't waste your money on trivial stuff.

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This isn't specific to ice climbing, but maybe worth considering...

 

I think you might be wise to go out with a quality guide for a day or two simply to see if you enjoy the activity before investing anything in all the gear, learning, and risk, time, frustration etc... I'm not making any judgment about how accurate you're conceptions climbing ice. I just think a facilitated, authentic experience climbing ice is insightful to the spirit of the sport. Asked now, I'd probably not choose to make the (progressive) investment I have made to climb ice. It great, but in hind sight I'd "invest" in something else.

 

I think many people here think about guides as instructors, helping you build on your set of skills. But I think a guide can also be someone to facility an experience that would give you a great start to understanding the essence of the sport. Not to mention show you LOTS about the systems/details of climbing.

 

If you get out, take a few pictures and post a report. I'd enjoy hearing your impressions.

 

Dave

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I think getting a solid base in traditional rock climbing should be your first step. Learning efficient rope management, anchor building, team dynamics, belaying, rappelling, knots, prusiking, etc. can be practiced until it is second nature on a sunny rock cliff. Then traditional glacier mountaineering, and finally waterfall climbing. By then you should be fit, effecient, and ready to handle the uncomfortable aspects of ice climbing.

Edited by DPS

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I think you might be wise to go out with a quality guide for a day or two simply to see if you enjoy the activity before investing anything in all the gear, learning, and risk, time, frustration etc...

 

 

I think that this is good advice. Or find a club/mentor that can take you out for a day. The advantage of a guide is that you know they will give you a safe day out. Being new you aren't in much of a position to evaluate your partner's abilities/practices. Good luck. :)

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I'd also recommend going alpine ice climbing before going water ice climbing. Alpine ice typically happens mid- to late-summer, and can be on easier terrain than mid-winter waterfall ice, but uses the same techniques. So you'd get to be introduced to the same skill set on easier terrain and in warmer temps, and can step up to waterfall ice the following winter.

 

So, intro to rock -> intro to alpine rock -> alpine ice -> waterfall ice

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All of the above advice is appropriate, Water Fall Ice - WI takes a lot of cross-over skills as mentioned above; and is not meant to discourage you. So, to be safe and maybe experience the draw to it - perhaps a top rope session with a guide or experienced friend is the way for you to go. Read some books on "How to Ice Climb", maybe that will give you an idea of what you are up against. It is costly for only a few seasonal trips a year. Maybe what would be best is to Top Rope at say, an Ice Climbing Clinic as an intro - where the gear is borrowed or provided. Going north of Wash. & Oregon is your best bet for a one shot deal, to see if you like it. Good Luck in your adventure. :yoda:

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My foray into ice climbing included taking a class from International Mountain Guides in Ouray, CO the last couple years. It's been fantastic and I completely recommend it. You can rent all the gear and Ouray is a fun town.

 

Ouray basically is an outdoor ICE climbing gym which is less than a mile from the town (you walk to the box canyon). The guided programs are great because they teach all the techniques.

 

I don't think any mountaineering experience is required at all to do one of these programs - the fact that you have some experience rock climbing in the gym will help you. They will teach you about the sport completely = how to hold tools, how to use your feet, how to use the gear correctly, etc. It's nice to know your knots when you go.

 

I find that Ice Climbing is more about efficiency and practice than anything else. I'd put down the cash somewhere (either Colorado, Utah or Montana) and walk away knowing whether you like it or not.

 

I chose to try it in order to expand my horizons. Now I want to do it all the time if I could. Sucks that I live in Washington State where the ice just ain't in. Additionally, you'll learn MANY skills if you head to Ouray. Water Ice will give you some great skills you could use with Alpine Ice.

 

I do second the suggestion you read an Ice Climbing book too: "How to Ice Climb" by Craig Luebben or "Ice & Mixed Climbing" by Will Gadd are great books.

 

Good luck and hope to see you at the bottom of an ice wall.

 

Additionally, you don't need to take rock climbing or alpine rock or alpine ice before you try water ice. It will help you, but if you take a class, you'll find that it's a sport that can live on its own without a big bunch of prerequisites.

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where are you in Oregon? Im a college student at U of O in Eugene. Agree with all the above threads, especially moving to Montana. Dont get much Water Ice in Oregon, and you better be damn sure the conditions in Washington are good to drive your ass up there. If you are looking just for roadside ice climbing there isnt much for you here, what does form usually isnt easy or consistent enough to really learn the ropes. If you like the idea get into alpine climbing, move up to the intermediate routes around here. a route like the reid or sandy headwall on hood can get pretty damn icey in the right conditions, and 1000+ vert feet of ice will teach you how to move on the stuff. keep in mind that ice climbing is not like rock climbing, ie falling is a very very bad idea. while people walk away from falls all the time, broken femurs, ankles and ice tools through the face etc are very real possibilites. alpine climbing will also help you learn to asses and manage the risk of such silly adventures.

PS-its also RIDICULOUSLY FUN, let me know how you progress as it always helps to have more partners

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Do lots of pull-ups help?How many pull-ups a day.Please help I am just started learning climbing.

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pull ups are a good way to build pull strength, but wont necessarily help you climb. i bet there are non-climbers out there who can do 50 pull ups who cant climb 5.10. if you cant actually climb, get a hang board, it will help build climbing strength. metolius has good workouts on their website, though beginners probably wont be able to complete them all the way. as for ice climbing workouts, try and find a gym that will let you tool around on their campus board or something

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Will Gadd wrote a fairly comprehensive book for the Mountaineers that covers things like "pull-ups".

 

Check out: "Ice & Mixed Climbing: Modern Technique"

 

Chapter 11, Training for Winter Climbing discusses Periodization (managing what sports you're doing at what times during the year...), Specific Adaptation, and some great exercises that are really specific to the goal of climbing ice. Pull ups are nice, but there are better approaches for holding and hanging on tools: One arm pull DOWNS, front levers, half levers, curt ups, hammer swings, dumbbell hammer swings, shoulder training, etc.

 

I suggest you get this book or something similar and get yourself ready for the season!

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Being able to do 20 pull-ups is helpful. I find that alternating underhand and overhand pull-ups helps. Adding in knee raises can be beneficial as well as an abdominal workout. That's been my experience anyway, other people will obviously have different opinions.

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pull ups are vastly overrated for climbing. the sport emphasizes technique rather than sheer strength. being able to do more pull ups does not necessarily translate into climbing better or harder. go climbing as much as you can and try to improve your technique.

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If your idea of ice climbing is doing pull-ups in a row up the ice, you've got a long ways to go...

 

Getting used to swinging things overhead and then resting by keeping them up there is a much more useful goal. Being able to hold a lockoff on a tool or being able to hang comfortably off a tool and recover are skills that will get you up ice safer. I'll 2nd Will Gadd's book. It has a lot of solid advice for new ice climbers.

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I suggest finding a friend or guide who will take you out for a day so you can experience it without the initial outlay of a grand for gear (plus winter clothes if you don't have them). That's what I did, and I swear that I was in love with the first swing of the axe. 'Great' I thought while climbing, 'Another thing to sink my cash into.' Totally addictive, and more fun than a tramp on a friday night (unless she climbs ice too)! In the beginning it tends to be a little more brute force than rock, but it does require technique and finesse. Plus you get to kick the shit out of stuff with dangerous weapons, and no cops!!!

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Dellas makes an awesome point. I didn't know if I'd like it. Now I did buy some gear (but two brand new ice tools for a total $200 is an unbelievable deal). Anyhow, from the swing of the tool, I knew I had a new obsession. It's a different obsession from Glacier climbing, Rock Climbing, etc. Yes, I want to do those things - but I really want to get experience on the ice.

 

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