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Wanting to get into ice climbing..
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By Christian C
From Arcata, CA
Jul 12, 2012
I know it's summer, but I really want to start ice climbing in the winter.. What can I read or do to prepare? I climb a good amount on stone.. What do I need as far as gear? Any tips or good websites?
Thanks!

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By Ross Henry
Jul 12, 2012
me in seneca
Totally know where your at, but depending on where you live I suggest going out either with a guide or program of sorts and try it out, find the gear the feels right to you. Especially boots..dont want to error with those, it could mean the difference between an enjoyable experience and a not enjoyable. Ice tools are kind of big as well, because you want to find the ones that swing best for you..so your most efficient. Im not uber experienced, so hopefully more people can give you pointers.

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By Michael Pang
Jul 12, 2012
Hands.
generally ice climbing in the lower 48 is in new england/adirondacks, colorado, cody wyoming, montana. there's a little in lee vining in cali. there's a valdez ice fest in alaska, if you happen to live up there. the ouray ice park in ouray, colorado is the easiest logistically and most beginner-friendly--google it. if you really want to learn ice climbing start looking for a winter job in ouray and you'll spend a good bit of your winter getting good at it. if you can, try to make it to the ouray ice festival in colorado in january. it's a huge event and you can demo ice tools and boots for free, and (for a fee) take a clinic or two and learn basic technique from a pro. and depending on where in the country you are, there may also be a smaller local ice fest somewhere near you in the winter.

at a minimum you'll need ice boots, crampons, a pair of technical ice tools, HELMET, warm clothes (not too bulky, think capilene layers and schoeller), a puffy belay jacket, gloves (not too bulky), HELMET, and a harness that fits comfortably over your extra layers (adjustable leg loops help here). and a HELMET.

hope that helps. good luck.

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By Wyatt H
From Casper, Wy
Jul 12, 2012
Go to a festival like the one in Bozeman that will let you demo gear and take a clinic. Don't buy gear until you do. Really all you need to start out is the right clothing and a backpack. Everything else you can demo or rent, including boots. Will Gadd's book is very good as is the Rockfax Winter Climbing+ book for giving you the basics of every aspect of the sport, including equipment, clothing, and technique. Once you get a taste, then get some boots, crampons, and ice tools. Climb with as much different equipment as you can before you buy, and buy what you like and what feels good and works for you. Don't go cheap, you will regret it and end up spending more in the long run. Ice climbing is expensive. Be prepared for that. Once you get stuff, go to Ouray and climb on toprope for a month.

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By Christian C
From Arcata, CA
Jul 12, 2012
Awesome! I'll get on trying to get to a festival.. I live in southern California, but I'm thinking of moving to Utah soon... I know there are a few spots, but I'm not sure how good they are.. Thankyou for the tips !

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By randy88fj62
Jul 12, 2012
Thunderbolt Peak in the Palisades
Christian C wrote:
Awesome! I'll get on trying to get to a festival.. I live in southern California, but I'm thinking of moving to Utah soon... I know there are a few spots, but I'm not sure how good they are.. Thankyou for the tips !


In CA we have Lee Vining, June Lake, and sometimes taquitz holds ice for a bit. There are a few small patches in the San Gabriel near Baden Powell but the conditions don't usually last long.

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By Garret Nuzzo-Jones
From Salt Lake City, UT
Jul 14, 2012
Cleaning up in Jenny Lake.
The ice climbing in Utah is significantly better than California.

Assuming you live on the Wasatch front you've got access to climbing in Little Cottonwood Canyon and Provo Canyon. Those two canyons have climbs that are basically ice cragging.

From there you're going to have to drive a little farther or hike a bit more but the ice is as good/better. Santaquin, Strawberry and Joe's Valley are serious destinations.

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By Bang
From Charlottesville, VA
Jul 16, 2012
Thanks Hank Caylor!
Hi Christian,

If you have access to some low angle snow climb or alpine ice in the mountains, that will be a nice start for practicing crampons and ice tools techniques.

Oh and there are couple great ice climbing blogs I have been following, so you can check them out: (order of the links are random):
coldthistle.blogspot.com/
gravsports.blogspot.com/
onehundredmountains.blogspot.c...

:)

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By David Appelhans
From Lafayette
Jul 16, 2012
Imaginate
If you are going to buy crampons and ice tools, summer is a good time to watch the for sale threads for good deals on used ice gear. Come September-November, demand for used ice climbing stuff goes up.

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By Princess Mia
From Vail
Jul 16, 2012
Chillin' at City of Rocks
I say take a beginning ice clumbing class before you invest in any gear. You may hate the sport and gear is pricey.

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By Bang
From Charlottesville, VA
Jul 16, 2012
Thanks Hank Caylor!
Dane had a post early this Feb, interesting to read coldthistle.blogspot.com/2012/...

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By Wyatt H
From Casper, Wy
Jul 16, 2012
While Dane definitely knows what he's talking about, theres alot of what he says that is only his opinion and alot that doesn't apply to the beginning ice climber. Be discriminating.

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By Bang
From Charlottesville, VA
Jul 17, 2012
Thanks Hank Caylor!
Wyatt H wrote:
While Dane definitely knows what he's talking about, theres alot of what he says that is only his opinion and alot that doesn't apply to the beginning ice climber. Be discriminating.



Very true, as Wyatt and Dane have pointed out sometimes, his blog is his opinion only, so please reference to other sources to see what will work for you :)

If you are interested in picking up couple text books to read, Jeff Lowe's Ice World is one of the great books to have on the book shelf.

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By Stich
From Colorado Springs, Colorado
Jul 17, 2012
Coffee after freezing our asses off near James Peak.
Princess Mia wrote:
I say take a beginning ice clumbing class before you invest in any gear. You may hate the sport and gear is pricey.


Or you may find the sport a mild diversion and not want to invest in the top gear, which is what I decided after a few seasons. I now go search out warm rock throughout the winter, which is easy to do in Colorado, or just go skiing.

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By Buff Johnson
Jul 17, 2012
smiley face
Christian -- this goes on your helmet, for safety:

There is no Take
There is no Take

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By bob branscomb
From Lander, WY
Jul 17, 2012
That's good advice to rent or borrow some gear for the first time out. A lot of people don't like it because it's REAL different and the gear is all very expensive and hard to unload once you've invested.

My main advise is to not jump right on the WI4 and 5 wagon first thing off. I know a lot of very good rock climbers who did that under the illusion that if you could do 5.12, why waste your time with anything less than vertical? They unloaded all their ice gear after the first trip and never went again. Well, you have to swing the tools and check out the variations of ice quality and how to deal with them: pay your dues on the 'easier" things first or you run a good chance of getting seriously hurt or at least very freaked out by jumping on the big stuff right off.

Take it easy, be humble, don't be afraid to back off and come back another day. And have fun.

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By willeslinger
From Golden, Colorado
Aug 15, 2012
I was pretty bummed when they didn't greenlight my "Bourne Identity" style reboot of The Eiger Sanction. This was from the rough draft's first act.
Bang wrote:
Hi Christian, If you have access to some low angle snow climb or alpine ice in the mountains, that will be a nice start for practicing crampons and ice tools techniques. Oh and there are couple great ice climbing blogs I have been following, so you can check them out: (order of the links are random): coldthistle.blogspot.com/ gravsports.blogspot.com/ onehundredmountains.blogspot.c... :)


I second that. Steep snow, use both tools, kick steps, get the screaming barfies once or twice, go from there.

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