Ice Climbing
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Climbing is dangerous! Every year many climbers are broken, maimed, and killed. Don't be so foolish as to trust your life to what you see here. I'm not a guide and neither is this web site. If you don't know what you are doing or where you are going, please take a course or hire a guide!

Ice 2000-01
Ice 2001-02
Ice 2002-03
Ice 2003-04
Ice 2004-05

Waterfall Ice

A new category on my site, beginning December, 2000.

Update: Including one pitch on the Coleman Headwall of Mount Baker, I've climbed 43 54 pitches of ice this season (through Feb 17 28, 2001). I still consider myself a newbie, but I'm starting to get the hang of it, and I think I'm getting a little stronger. Here are some observations from my experience.

The mental challenge and thrill of leading ice is like leading trad rock, times ten.
I haven't fallen on lead yet, and I really don't want to.
It takes a lot of physical and mental energy to place a screw. Much more than placing a nut or a cam.
When I really need a screw the stances disappear, the ice goes to shit, and my muscles cramp. When I don't need one, there are placements and stances everywhere and I feel like I could solo the pitch.
When I get a good rest on lead, I take it.
It is just as physically strenuous for me to second a pitch as to lead it, I just miss out on the psychological gymnastics.
Ice gear is sharp and tears the shit out of expensive Goretex.
Don't overtighten leashes. Cutting off the blood supply to my hands virtually guarantees I'll get another case of "The Dreaded Thaw", which is what we call that glorious "my hands are warming up now and they feel like they are being crushed in a vise" feeling.
My current favorite clothing configuration is several layers of fleece on top, including a Windstopper layer, all tucked into Goretex pants. I only wear my Goretex jacket when I have to (raining, snowing, dripping, etc.)
I prefer my randonee boots over my Lowa Civettas. With the Raichle thermoflex liners in my Dynafit boots, they fit like a glove and I simply climb better.
Double ropes = peace of mind.
Screamers and Express screws good. Ice Screamers and titanium screws bad.
TR is the time to move on marginal placements. When leading, one bad stick leads to another. Two bad sticks leads to Loren having a mental meltdown.
The Klubberud-Campbell rule of difficulty: The climb always looks hard from the road, easy from the base/belay, and hard again on lead.

I'm definitely a newbie ice climber. But hey, I had all the gear I needed for glaciers and rock, so it was a natural extension for me as a climber and gear junkie.

I guess my first experience on water ice was a few years ago in the Commonwealth Basin. It was early season and we managed to find a little moderate ice that wasn't covered with snow. Looking back, it was probably WI2, but it seemed so intimidating then.

In December of 1998 I made my first trip to Lillooet, British Columbia. There I learned the value of the crampons and axes designed specifically for vertical ice. Charlet Moser Quasar axes and Grade 8 crampons went on the wish list.

I plan to emphasize water ice during the winter of 2000-01, so look for some fun stuff here.


This page was last edited on Wednesday, February 23, 2005
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