So you’re used to getting on some mad hot rock during the spring and summer months, but by the time fall rolls around depression sets in because you know that rock is gonna turn oh-so cold and freeze you to the bone. You’re contemplating spending the next 3 or 4 months in the climbing gym and wondering if there’s any alternative since those colorful plastic holds simply can’t compete with real rock and the thrill of climbing in the wilderness. Enter Ice Climbing. You think multi-pitch trad climbing is an adventure and a half, try this frigid sport and you’re sure to have the screams ripped right out of ya.
Ice climbing can be found throughout the US and abroad in countries like Alaska and Ireland (Yes, the Emerald Isle has some rad ice). For more great climbing spots check out this article that details ice climbing in Yosimite National, Colorado, New Hampsire and much more. This writer is particular partial to the winter mountaineering that can be done on many of Colorado’s epic 14ners.
This may seem like a no-brainer but, for novice iceclimbers, some may not realize that it’s best to wait until ice has fully hardened and the temperatures have stopped fluctuating from warm to cool (as they do in late fall) before you attempt climbing. This ensures that your screws won’t slip (probably).
For some of you, perhaps you’re an accomplished rock-climber but not sure how to get into this new activity. Taking a class can be as simple as checking in with REI to see if they’re offering some beginner classes or check in your area to see if there are any guided climbing classes through climbing gyms. Also, check out this article from Climbing Magazine to learn one of the most efficient stances for this sport.
Despite that it’s obviously challenging and hella-fun, ice climbing can take your climbing or mountaineering to the next level. It’s also extremely physical and requires a great deal of mental discipline, which ensures that you’ll be pushed to your limits
A Word to the Wise:
Ice climbing is not a sport that one simply does on a whim (Think of the “One Does Not Simply Walk into Mordor” memes) only replace that with “One Does Not Simply Ice Climb Without Proper Training and Preparation”…Imagine Sean Bean saying it and it’s even better. That being said, take a class, go with skilled friends and know the basics before you attempt this cool sport so that you don’t get burned.