WestCoast Intermountain grt_lake northeast

Tricks and tips useful for iceclimbing

  • Steep ice peace of mind. Leading steep ice is a lot easier if the mind riot can be quelled. Towards this end, placing pro quickly helps immensely. Here are some tips:
    • Get a secure tool placement, and hang straight-armed from the arm that won't place the gear.
    • With the arm that will place the gear, have, or get, a tool placement around the head to chest level.
    • Take your hand out of the leash to place the gear; Clipping a quickdraw to the tool and then to your rope may help you stay calm, and doesn't slow you down greatly (it may even catch a slip).
    • Place the gear. If it's a screw, it's often easier to place it at mid-waist level.
    • Clip on a quickdraw and the rope, or transfer the quickdraw on your tool's leash if that's where it's been.
    • Get your hand through the tool leash, and move. If the arm from which you were hanging is burning, shake it our before you get too far from the pro.
  • Clipping the rope doesn't have to mean you take a glove off. It's fairly easy to pull a loop of rope up, hold it in your mouth, then push the biner onto the rope. This method eliminates the need to open a biner gate with your fingers.
Essential "non-essential" equipment:
  • "Freezer Gloves" have been used by professional fisherman for years. Why more iceclimbers don't use them is a mystery. In wet and cold, these provide waterproofness and dexterity that rivals neoprene gloves, but are easier to remove, warmer, more resistant to tears, and are about 1/3 the cost. (for an example, check out those at Seattle Marine. This is not an endorsement for Seattle Marine; They actually charge alot for shipping, but they have the gloves.)
  • A large flat file. Alot of climbers carry a small file to touch up tools when climbing. However, a large flat file stored at home, or in the approach vehicle, can bring a tool to deadly sharp perfection in a minute if used with a little skill. More control is gained if you use a trick any middle-school shop teacher knows: hold the icetool while sharpening rather than holding the file. By holding the tool with both hands (one at the handle, the other at the toolhead), stepping on the tang of the file, then drawing the tool towards you, accurate bevels are easy. You can also mount a flat file on a short board, and step on that to hold the file steady. Keep the file sharp longer by cleaning it with a wire brush, keeping it lightly oiled, and only applying it in the "cutting direction" (dragging the file back over your work dulls the cutting edge).
  • Wire coat hanger. Wind up half of it in to a coil-like handle using pliars and leave about nine inches straight. At the straight end bend back a "hook" at a sharp angle. There is no better tool for pulling slings through a V-thread. Make sure that the hook will fit inside the diameter of your screws. When you get back to your car and realize that your keys are inside it, these tools can be helpful in jimmying most foreign and domestic locks. Of course, either the axe-, or hammer-head, of an ice-tool makes short work of a locked car's windows.
  • Spreading ski wax for classic-style ski touring on ice-tool handles is a great way to make them stickier; They stick well to gloves, but still plunge well into consolidated snow. Use a wax meant for dry fresh snow rather than klister.
     West Coast  |  Intermountain  |  Great Lake  |  Northeast 

    , Copyright 1999.