Tricks and tips useful for iceclimbing
Essential "non-essential" equipment:
- 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
- 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.
- "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
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.