/ starting out
All help is appreciated
By ice climbing do you mean winter climbing or just pure water ice?
The predominant style of winter climbing in Scotland is Mixed climbing where you climb snowed up rock routes when there is a suitable amount of snow ice and rime to qualify them as 'in winter nick'.
There are plenty courses run in Scotland through the winter focusing on this amongst other things, the two guides mentioned above along with Alan Halewood, Mike Lates and Mike Pescod all do the kind of thing you are after.
Hi Gordo. I was in the same situation last year and organised to go to Rjukan with my buddy. I'd only done easy winter days in N Wales (easy grade II gullies, Tryfan/Bristly Ridge in full Winter etc) so my skills weren't the most honed but my climbing partner is much more experienced.
We went over to Rjukan and stayed at the Climb Inn. On the outset it seemed expensive so we opted for just a room to sleep in and to make our own food. In hindsight it would have been cheaper to have André make us some food up as the shops there are all pretty expensive!
Anyway, cutting a long story short. Rjukan has plenty of opportunities to hone your skills with loads of single-pitch chunky ice (Krokan) just up the road from Climb Inn, literally 5 mins drive away. You can setup a top-rope and work your technique there. It took me a couple of days to get capable, trying out my technique and speaking to other really experienced ice climbers out there, and then I was soon seconding WI4 and trying a WI5 (and not completing it!).
I don't have enough experience to list other places but I'd say you would be fine in Rjukan as long as you go with someone who has a little experience, or if that's not possible then join up with some teams out there or put a shout out on here. Climb Inn is super-sociable and I'm sure you would hook up with someone out there.
I thought that I may be out of my depth but I was fine. Go for it, it's fantastic and Rjukan is an amazing place. Climb Inn do run courses too, email André and I'm sure he will give you some advice. We travelled out mid Feb and caught the ice festival too. I'm heading out again next year about the same time but with another team. You are more than welcome to come along with us.
In reply to stevemarkperry: Iv only had a quick look so far and gonna start gathering information. I did have a look at the climb-inn which looked like it would be ideal glad to hear someone has recommended it too.
As for a climbing partner not many people around by my that i know go ice climbing. so would either have to join up with a team or maybe have a go on one of the courses.
Dedication and availibilty at short notice will be your allies.
If you're enthusiastic, do not mind the driving and can keep smiling when at the end of the walk-in nothing is in "nick", you will have a grand career in winter climbing in the UK.
Find people you get on with that know the ropes.
Have a big address book to be able to find partners at short notice.
Have a clear idea what you are prepared to do (drive, seconding past your margin...) This will allow you to fit in with groups better. Nobody will think badly of you if you turn them down on the phone because it sounded scary. They might be less understanding if you start crying on the first ledge after all the walking/driving.
I met all my partners at the start at the local climbing wall in Glasgow, and with time met people from all over the country.
If you do not know anyone a course in the UK would be more beneficial than continental courses (possibly less pleasant) IMO. Ice climbing on continental ice and UK winter climbing are nearly similar activities but not quite.
Good luck and enjoy
If theres a climb at the end even better but if not you could still have a cracking walk with some nice pictures at the end.
Iv got to know a few people through sites like climb find and bumping into them at the local wall but im not sure if they have been ice climbing. is there sites like climb find that would be more geared towards ice climbing.
Im yet to join any sort of mountaineering club but thats something im going to look into.
What makes you say a continental course would be less pleasant? The main area that i could think of would be a language barrier?
Not less "pleasant" but less relevant. Scottish (euh sorry British) winter has its own ethic, sets of skills and unique conditions. Few if any areas on the continent come close. Not to say that nothing is transferable... just that it's not wholesale transferable.
Languages are rarely a barrier in my experience.
on the off chance youre passing by japan mid winter, theres lots of ice not far from tokyo, developed but uncrowded. can hire gear.
cute girls, good food and cheap beer too.
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