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Xtreme Sport

Xtreme Sport

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Published by: inesjc on Nov 27, 2009
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Ice climbing
Ice climbing
, as the term indicates, is the activity of ascending inclined ice formations.Usually, ice climbingrefers to roped and protected climbing of features such as icefalls,  frozenwaterfalls, and cliffs and rock slabs covered with ice refrozen from flows of water. For the purposes of climbing ice can be broadly divided into two spheres, alpineice and water ice. Alpine ice is found in a mountain environment, usually requires anapproach to reach, and is often climbed in an attempt to summit a mountain. Water iceis usually found on a cliff or other outcropping beneath water flows. Alpine ice is frozen precipitation whereas water ice is a frozen liquid flow of water. Most alpine ice isgenerally one component of a longer routes and often less technical, have more incommon with standard glacier travel, while water ice is selected largely for its technicalchallenge. Still technical grade is independent of ice type and both types of ice varygreatly in consistency according to weather conditions. Ice can be soft, hard, brittle or tough. Amixed climbingis when ascending involve both ice climbing androck  climbing.
A climber chooses equipment according to the slope and texture of the ice. For example, on flat ice, almost any good hiking or mountaineering boot will usuallysuffice, but for serious ice climbing double plastic mountaineering boots (or their older stiff leather equivalent) are usually used, which must be crampon compatible and stiff enough to support the climber and maintain ankle support. On short, low angled slopes,one can use an ice axeto chop steps. For longer and steeper slopes or glacier travel, cramponsare mandatory for a safe climb. Vertical ice climbing is done with cramponsand ice axes (those specific to vertical ice generally being called technical ice axes, or 
); climbers kick their legs to engage the front points of the crampons in the ice,and then swing the axe into the ice above their heads. This technique is known asfront pointing. The strength of the ice is often surprising; even if the axe goes in only acentimeter or so it is enough to pull up on. If a climber isleading, she/he will need to place ice screwsas protectionon the way up (see climbing system). Most mountaineers would only consider the last scenario true ice climbing; the less steep variations areroutine aspects of winter  mountaineering. Some important techniques and practices common inrock climbingthat are employedin ice climbing include knowledge of rope systems, tying in, belaying, leading,abseiling, and lowering. Beginners should learn these techniques before attempting toice climb. It is highly recommended that one acquire knowledge from experts andexperienced ice climbers.
[edit] Rope systems
Single, double, and twin rope are the three main rope systems used in ice climbing. Thesingle rope system, which is suited for straight climbing routes, is the most commonlyused system in the world. Also often used in climbing is the double rope system whichis a more flexible system than the single rope system. Lastly, the twin rope system,which uses two twin ropes in a single rope system, is used for longer multi-pitch routes.However, this type is not often used in climbing.
[edit] Tying in
Tying in entails attaching your rope to the climbing harness. This technique is a must particularly when leading a climb or belaying. The commonly used tie-in knot is theFigure-of-eight follow through. Once you tie-in, you will create a belay loop which willcontain your belay device when needed. This technique should be done properly toensure your safety when ice climbing.
[edit] Belaying
In this climbing technique, you are going to use either running belays or fixed belays. Arunning belay on ice is similar to a running belay on rock or snow. The leader of theclimb puts protection and clips the rope through it. The next climber puts away the protection. There should be at least two points of protection between the leader and thenext climber. Fixed belays, on the other hand, require a belayer, belay anchor, and points of protection. A belay anchor is attached to a cliff in supporting a belay or toprope. In using either a running- or fixed belay, it is necessary that you have enoughknowledge on boot/ice-screw belay techniques.
[edit] Leading
Leading refers to the act of leading a climb and thus, requires a leader and a follower.This ice climbing technique entails putting protection while ascending. In doing so,leading is done in sections. The leader places the protection as he/she climbs untilhe/she reaches the top of a
. At the top, the leader builds a belay anchor with whichto belay the second climber. While the second climbs, he/she removes the protection placed by the leader. When the second climber finishes, they both proceed to the second pitch.
[edit] Abseiling
Also called rappelling,abseiling uses a fixed rope to descend. This technique is not only used to go down after a climb. It can also be used when trying new climbing routes andwhen there is a seemingly difficult access to the start of a climb. Careful execution isimportant in doing abseiling. There are the possibilities of jammed ropes, ropes becoming severed after getting in contact with sharp edges, and other cases of equipment failure.
[edit] Lowering
Lowering is one of the most common methods of getting down. A belayer at the base of the vertical wall ensures that the climber is lowered safely. This climbing technique isused when going down routes where there are short, steep walls. This is also used whenyou want to go down faster.These are the different techniques used in climbing activities. Keep in mind, though,that it is very crucial to learn these skills from expert climbers before attempting themyourself.
 [ edit  ] Protecting ice
Ice screwToday the most common protection for ice climbing is anice screw.Ice screws are hollow tubes with sharp teeth on the front end, a hanger eye at the back to clip into, andthreading around the tube. They are screwed into the ice and can provide very strong protection in solid ice.
However, because of the variable nature of ice, the strength of ice screw placements can vary greatly.
Ice climbers also use the ice itself as protection. The two most common of suchtechniques are theV-Thread (also known as the"Abalokov" anchor , named after a Russian climber who popularised the technique) and the ice bollard. The V-thread is amethod of protection in which two tunnels are bored into the ice so that they intersect attheir ends, forming a "V" shaped tunnel in the ice. A sling or cordelette (rope used inanchors) is threaded through the tunnel and tied making a loop that is tied into the ice.An ice bollard is made when an horse-shoe shaped furrow is carved into less thanvertical ice with the open end down. A lip is then sculpted in the lower wall of thefurrow so that a loop of rope can be placed in the furrow that will stay in place in asomewhat less severe version of a loop of rope around saddle horn.
 Natural formations, as well as ice hooks and ice pitons are also used as protectionanchors by ice climbers.
 [ edit 
 ] Ice climbing grades
[edit] Waterfall ice grading
This discussion focuses on the waterfall ice rating system as used in the CanadianRockies.Testpiece examples are given. Note that ice grading, even more so than other climbingmedia, tends to be subjective and often does not reflect the difficulty of a route at anygiven time. Routes become much easier after the first ascent of the season. This is dueto the cleaning of chandeliered ice and creation of "hooks", which are pockets formed by the tools' picks, reducing the effort expended in cleaning and tool placement.Routes with high-flow seeps also tend to become easier as the season progresses due tothe increase in volume of ice. Low-flow seeps, however (e.g. French Reality, Banff;Moonlight/Snowline, Kananaskis), often form early in the season (September- November) when the flow is good from latent summer heat, and then slow down or even stop with the deepening winter frost; subsequent ablation (and destruction byclimbing) of the ice often makes for thinner and brittler ice with time.

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