Ice Climbing For Beginners
Ice climbing takes the basics of mountain climbing and adds in freezing weather, slippery slopes and crevices that can swallow a person in seconds. And people call this fun? Take a quick look at this growing sport.
Imagine conquering a mountain, climbing to the top of a slope, the pure exhilaration of doing something no one else has done. You're exhausted, your muscles ache, but it's the best feeling you've ever had. Now multiply that by two and you've got the adventure known as ice climbing.
Ice climbing takes the basics of mountain climbing and adds in freezing weather, slippery slopes and crevices that can swallow a person in seconds. And people call this fun? You bet. Ice climbers love the challenge and they'll tell you there is nothing like it in the world.
Ice climbers need a number of special tools to do their job, not the least of which is good warm clothing. Layering is the way to go. Start with thermal underwear, then a 'shirt layer' which is made of thin fleece or wool and over that a jacket made of 'wind-proof' material. Warm, thick socks protect the feet which go inside of sturdy, specially designed climbing boots. Gaiters are waterproof sleeves that go from below the knee, over the tops of the boots to keep snow from getting inside. Top it all off with gloves and a hat and you're ready to go.
Ice climbing tools can be expensive, but you don't want to attempt a climb with cheap tools. Your safety could be at stake. Start out with these pieces: a harness, ice axe, crampons, (spikes that fit on to the bottom of your boot) and ice screws (long threaded spikes that are hammered into the ice to form a hand or foot hold.)
If you're new at this, you'll want to hire an expert guide. A guide may recommend glacier walking to start. Glaciers are not very steep so they are perfect for beginners. The biggest danger is that of falling into the natural crevasses that can be hidden beneath a layer of soft snow.
Ice climbing takes a combination of mind and body skill. Climbers must be in excellent physical condition. Strength training and cardio-vascular (aerobic) training are a must. Climbers must be confident in their moves and well prepared before they begin. All climbers agree that a positive attitude will go along way toward getting you to the top.