Ice climbing is an extreme sport that requires many safety measures. This sport often occurs in mountains or other areas with steep hills and cold climates. Ice climbing can be a casual or competitive sport with different goals based on skill level.
Most of the equipment used for ice climbing is meant for personal safety. As ice can get very slick when climbing at fast speeds, it is important to have all necessary materials before attempting to ice climb.
Avalanche kits have become popular recently due to the amount of ice climbing accidents that have occured. A typical kit consists of a shovel, beacon, and probe. They can all be utilized when trapped under a lot of snow, letting your friends or rescuers know where you are. An avalanche kit can cost anywhere from $200-$400.
A backpack is more useful for casual ice climbers who spend days out conquering a mountain. A backpack can hold many things and allows you to focus on the climb itself. Items such as food, a thermos, and extra supplies can be stored in a typical backpack. If your backpack has a clip on it, it will be useful to strap it to your body so it does not fall off. Normal backpacks range in price from $50-$100.
A belay device is a sturdy piece of equipment that benefits you and your fellow climbers. It creates leverage so that you can easily release more rope to climb up a certain portion of the mountain. The device is designed to create tension, making the rope easier to grab onto by climbers. Belay devices cost about $20.
Boots for ice climbing an important factor to your success. They have to be a perfect fit, but not so tight that your blood flow is disrupted. Your heel should be secured, but your toes should not be crammed. Leather boots are the most common for ice climbing, as they provide warmth in exchange for reasonable weight and durability. Ice climbing boots will cost about $500-$1000.
Carabiners are essential to ice climbing. Their primary function is to connect an end of the rope to the harness located on the waist of the climber. They are made of a durable metal designed to withstand a lot of weight. Having extra carabiners is always a good idea, especially when you are embarking on a long climb.
Crampons attach to the bottom of your ice climbing boots. They are made of a strong metal and have a lot of spikes on the bottom. They are meant to provide traction to climbers when standing on sheets of ice during the climb. They should fit tightly to your boots so that they do not have room to disconnect. A set of crampons will cost about $200.
First aid kits are an ice climber's best friend. They can fit in your backpack and provide tons of immediate relief in case of an emergency injury. While they cannot help major injuries, they can stabilize the injured climber while help is on the way. A small first aid kid can be purchased for around $20.
Ice climbing requires you to use your hands often, so they need to be protected. Gloves keep your hands warm and dry, allowing you to perform things like attaching ice screws or climbing with your ice axes. Waterproof gloves are a good option since some areas during your climb can be slippery.
Ice axes are one of the most essential pieces of equipment on this list. The axes serve as stabilizers when climbing a steep portion of the ice. They fixate you to the ice and allow you to pull yourself up to the ledge. Their curved nature supports heavy weight, and they can act as an anchor when needed. A suitable set of ice axes can cost about $200.
These special screws are made for ice climbers. They easily dig into the ice, and have two main functions. They can act as a belay and securing climbers to the ice when they are high up, ensuring that they do not fall. Like carabiners, having a couple extra ice screws in your bag is a smart move. Ice screws will cost you about $60.
Being exposed to a cold environment can do significant damage to your body. As an ice climber, it is important to layer up with a good jacket. Nylon jackets are the most common as they are made of durable material and keep you dry on the inside. When climbing make sure that your pockets are not exposed so that you do not get caught. A suitable climbing jacket will cost you between $100-$200.
A harness will keep you safe at all times while climbing your terrain of choice. A typical harness made for ice climbing has two leg holes and a waist hole. Sometimes climbers will make makeshift harnesses out of spare rope, but they are not as safe as commercially designed harnesses. These nylon harnesses also have loops for your other equipment, such as carabiners. An ice climbing harness will cost around $100.
Headlamps are important to ice climbers who make long trips. Often starting the journey in the morning and ending at night, they run into periods of darkness. Having a bright light to guide you will help you not miss a ledge or go in the wrong direction. Rechargeable headlamps cost about $50.
Being safe is the number one priority while ice climbing. Having a helmet in case of a fall is an essential component to an ice climber's attire. Most commonly used are hard shell helmets that can absorb lots of impact. Since ice is a very hard surface you need a decent amount of protection with your helmet. Typical hard shell helmets cost about $100-$200.
There are two types of rope that are beneficial to ice climbers. First, dynamic rope comes in handy while climbing a surface. It is more elastic and can be useful during a slip or fall, allowing you to hang on. The second type is static rope. This rope is used mostly while rappelling. It is recommended that climbers bring about 60 meters of rope with them on their climb.
Eyewear is crucial for ice climbers, as ice can be very reflective, especially when the sun is shining above you. Falling ice and snow can also cause limited sight, and sunglasses can block this debris from getting into your eyes.
Another essential item to bring on your climb is a bottle or two of sunscreen. Ice is very reflective and can cause burns even in the cold. The long exposure times of the sun and ice that climbers face can be dangerous. Do not be afraid to slow down and apply sunscreen when necessary. A bottle of sunscreen costs about $10.
It is important for ice climbers to stay hydrated while climbing, and a water container is the best way to store your drink of choice. A thermos is useful because it can keep your drink either hot or cold, depending on its natural temperature. This thermos can easily fit into your backpack and is made of durable metal. A typical thermos costs about $50.