Ice climbing is not without it - like any other type of mountain sport, ice climbing also involves some risks. So it should not be underestimated if the first attempts are to be made. We show what you have to look out for when ice climbing and present tips from professionals.

A contribution by Daria Haas - Bächli Bergsport

Versatile water - that means in winter that wild waterfalls freeze and form fascinating climbing routes. So if you don't want to do without climbing outside in the cold season, you can do so on vertical ice.

But what do you have to consider? Right at the beginning, the rope handling and the process is similar, if not almost the same, as when alpine multi-pitch routes are climbed. So a clear advantage if you have already gained experience here.

Additional material for ice climbing

The climbing technique in and of itself does not differ much from ice climbing either. However, you need additional material, such as Ice screwsSteep ax, specific crampon and gloves with good grip for Ladies or Gents.

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash
Image Greg Rakozy 

However, there is a very specific difference to multi-pitch climbing, because falls are not allowed on the ice when leading. The two Bächli athletes mention that falling in ice is taboo. In contrast to rock routes, the safety devices are set much further apart on the ice, which creates a real risk of high falls.

When climbing in ice, falling in the lead is taboo.

And then there are ice axes and crampons - equipment that can easily lead to injuries. Therefore, here are a few basic skills that must be observed when ice climbing.

Muscular strength and technical know-how

It is important to have a stable position, which you can achieve by standing shoulder-width apart. This is your basic crampon position. If you place an ice screw, you stand wider to achieve an even more stable position. But how do the crampons have to be correctly stepped into the ice?

Very simple: With a loose swing from the knee, the front spikes are "kicked" into the ice. Sensitivity is required here. Correct and efficient technique is also important when setting an ice screw or using an ice ax. The technique of ice climbing is much more complex than that of rock climbing, and so is strength.

Ice build-up is of central importance

Of course, you should have a certain amount of strength and stamina if you want to try this sport. And there are a lot of factors to consider; In addition to solar radiation and temperature fluctuations, ice build-up is also of central importance. You also need a careful look.

Unlike rock climbing, you don't have to use holds for orientation.

Unlike rock climbing, you don't have to use holds for orientation, but you need an eye so that you know where to hit your pimple. Trust in the ice is also important. In addition, the belayer is always exposed to the icefall of the climber. That is why a correct position of the person securing is crucial.

Photo by Johannes Andersson on Unsplash
Image Johannes Andersson

All of these factors mean that first attempts at ice should definitely be made with a mountain guide or a trusted person who has well-founded ice climbing experience. Also for another reason: You need a lot of material for ice climbing - the mountaineering schools can easily provide you with this on a course.

First attempts should definitely be made with a mountain guide or an experienced person.

The mountain guides from Mountain point a good choice. The courses take place at different levels and soon. A quick registration is therefore worthwhile. How about that Beginners course? However, advanced learners are in 2nd course better off. It is definitely worth trying this fascinating sport, as ice climbing is more adventurous, especially for the head, than rock climbing. Let yourself be inspired by the beautiful routes in Switzerland below.

Where you can find beautiful cones

«The Engadine is always worth a visit. Without an ascent, you will find easy access to ice climbing in Pontresina. " Roger Schäli, professional alpinist, raves about the ice climbing opportunities in Pontresina. In the gorge, which is right in the village, the waterfalls offer something for all levels. There are even mixed routes and topos drilled in. At the moment there are top conditions in the Engadine. It is cold here longer than in most other areas. Which is why the route conditions are good for a long time.

Roger Schäli, professional alpinist, raves about the ice climbing opportunities in Pontresina.

Image Roger Schäli

Insider tip from Bächli athlete Roger Schäli

The Bächli athlete Roger Schäli cites the routes at Allmenalp in Kandersteg as an insider tip. The best conditions are there when the sun is not shining. So nothing for «Gfrörlis».

«At the back of the Kiental there is a fantastic area for ice climbing ». Jonas Schild, Bächli athlete, recommends the area «Tschingel». From Spiez you continue to Reichenbach in the Kiental. The best way to get to the site is by car. There is a parking space available. It only takes a very short approach. You can reach the ice falls within 5 to 30 minutes. A big plus. “It's a perfect course area,” enthuses Jonas Schild.

The approach takes between 5 and 30 minutes and the icefalls are perfect for courses and beginners.

Because it has routes ranging from WI3 to M10 and is suitable for both beginners and professionals. When asked why it is worth climbing right there in the Tschingel, Kiental, Jonas says: "You can already see the unique scenery and the beauty of the icefalls when you get there."

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About Bächli mountain sports

Bächli mountain sports is the leading Swiss specialist shop for climbing, mountaineering, expeditions, hiking, ski touring and snowshoeing. At currently 13 locations in Switzerland, Bächli Bergsport offers its customers expert advice and high-quality service. Published on LACRUX Bächli mountain sports periodically exciting contributions to the topics climbing, bouldering and mountaineering.

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Credits: Cover picture Jon slash on Unsplash, More pictures: Photo by Johannes Andersson on Unsplash, Photo by Greg rakozy on Unsplash, Roger Schäl