Ice climbing is fast becoming a popular alternative for rock climbers and other outdoor sports enthusiasts. This relatively new sport takes a lot of preparation, both mental and physical. Here we outline things that you need to do in order to survive an activity as demanding as ice climbing.
1. Physical preparation. Being physically fit is a requirement if you are giving ice climbing a try, because this sport requires a high level of endurance. To prepare for the climb, do some indoor wall climbing and rock climbing before your climb. The harder the climb the better. In fact, if you can find a vertical wall to climb, do it. This will be a good test for you. You also need to do some advanced cardiovascular exercises. Breathing hundreds of feet above the ground surrounded by ice is a tad more difficult than breathing on land. Thus, you need to make sure that your lungs and heart can withstand the challenge. Seek the advice of your doctor on how long you can do cardiovascular exercises in a day.
2. Mental preparation. Ice climbing is considered an extreme sport. Therefore, climbers need to get the right attitude to surpass the challenge of conquering mountains of ice. To condition yourself mentally, read articles and books on ice climbing and the experiences of other ice climbers. This will give you an idea of what to expect during your actual climb. Additionally, read books on how to survive in extreme conditions. Be prepared for the possibility of being trapped among snow and ice.
3. Supplies and Equipment. Aside from preparing yourself physically and mentally for your upcoming ice climb, you also have to make sure that you have the necessary supplies and equipment to make it through the climb and back. Here's a list of the essential things that you will need.
- Ice climbing Gear - Buying the whole array of ice climbing gear can be quite costly, but it's a must. You will need ice tools, picks, leashes and crampons. You will also need ice screws, ropes, screamers and V-thread tools.
- Ice climbing clothing - When climbing ice, you need to don layers of heat-retaining clothing to keep yourself warm and comfortable. Wear long johns over a fleece tops, jackets, and nylon pants. Then wear another set of jackets and pants before putting on water resistant clothing and a parka. Do not forget to put on a pair of synthetic, water wicking socks before wool socks. Select boots made for ice climbing. There are many stores where you can find all these, including Ouray Sportswear, The North Face, and REI.
- Food and water - Regardless of the duration of your climb, you need to bring food and water with you. Stock up on protein bars, crackers and energy drinks.
Ice climbing takes a lot of preparation. Make sure you have everything you need before climbing your first mountain of ice. Having the right gear as well as level of physical fitness and attitude will ensure the success of your climb.