/ Ice Axe Pull Ups and Lock Offs
I am training for winter climbing and skills at the moment by doing cardio at the gym (x trainer and vertical cycle) and doing leg strengthening yoga poses at home.
I am also going to do light weight training as suggested by Neil Gresham inn his article.
I would also love to do the Ice Axe routines he suggests.
Neil Gresham's Guide to Winter Climbing Training
Article by Neil Gresham
Wednesday 16th December 2009
As standards rise, training for winter is certainly increasing in popularity. Whether you are new to ice and aspire to lead your first grade V, or if you are regularly cranking VII's in the Corries in hope of doing M8 abroad, there is much value to be attained from specific winter training. Most will make do with a few sessions at the wall interspersed with the odd run; but winter climbing is an entirely different beast to rock. Forget the conventional forearm pump - 'thumb cramps', 'jelly wrist' and burning calves are the new enemy.
Specific Strength and Endurance Training
1 Ice axe pull-ups
The first and most basic specific training exercise for ice/mixed climbing. Use a bar or beam and hook your axes over it. Avoid using your leashes for strength work and perform the exercises footless, with a weight belt, or even on 1-arm if you're up to it! For endurance work, keep your leashes and try using a foothold or bungee stirrup for assistance in order to perform more reps. See guidelines for number of repetitions below. Useful variations incolude pull-ups with arms at different height or travelling ice axe pull-ups where you mover from side to side at the top of each pul-up.
2 Isometric ice axe locks
These exercises are superb for developing static strength for place pro or for locking-off whilst making your next placement. Perform them on their own or in combination with any of the above three exercises. Use three key positions: fully locked, 90 degrees and 130-150 degrees. Experiment with 1-arm work for strength and for maximum specificity, try swinging your free axe above your head 3 or 4 times as if trying to make a placement. 2-arm work, with a possible foot for assistance is best for endurance (no longer than 30 seconds). Time guidelines are given on the table below.
3 Ice/mixed bouldering
The best thing is always the real thing and if you don't happen to live near a field of iced-up leaning boulders above a snowy landing then you'll have to improvise. A convenient man-made stone wall or a specially adapted board is the next best thing. With stone walls you can work on technical hooking and torquing sequences whilst balancing your crampons on small edges. Keep your axes blunt and just use big boots without crampons if you're worried about damage. If you are using a wooden board, 5-20 degrees overhanging is the optimum angle (subject to ability) with screw-in metal 'O' rings for axe placements (available from most hardware stores) or, more crudely, pick sized drilled slots in the plyboard.You can even screw or bolt on some thick blocks of wood for simulated ice placements, or a crack section for torquing. Some bolt-on hold manufacturers offer specialist ice axe placement holds which can be worth experimenting with if you can afford to do so. But whatever happens - stay off the crags. It is also worth wearing a helmet or face guard as well as taping-up hammer, adze and spikes.
4 Shoulder presses / dumbbell raises
Lifting your axes repatedly can cause a chronic shoulder pump to set in and these exercises, performed with very light weight for high reps (30-60) can help you do something about it. Both are performed seated; for the shoulder press simply raise a barbell behind your head and with the dumbells, lift them out to the side or the front with straight arms -as high as you can!
5 Tricep extensions
How fatiguing is hacking out a placement on brittle water ice? To make it all feel easier, this exercise is performed with a dumbell behind the head, one arm at a time, by simply raising the forearm and lowering it, keeping the upper arm still and vertical.
Note: for those who don't have access to weights - press-ups and parallel bar dips are ideal alternatives.
6. Wrist curls
Wrist curls are a superb way of gaining the specific strength required to make secure, first-time axe placements.
The most demoralising thing of all is when your pick fires off sideways because you're too wasted to keep your wrist straight when making a placement. To combat 'jelly wrist', use a dumbbell or barbell either seated with wrists placed on the knee or kneeling with the wrists on a padded bench. Simply roll the bar up and down for as many reps as possible, experimenting with both under and an overhand grips for balanced development.
7. Leg conditioning and aerobic
The following exrcises are essential! Calf raises are performed on a step by simply going up and down on your toes until you can't take the pain any longer - no need to explain why they help. Skipping is perhaps the most specific body conditioning exercise for ice climbing, producing that familiar burm in shoulders and calves simultaneously. For those long walk-ins, needless to say running and cycling are all recommended to help you arrive in a fit state to climb.
8. 'Death sets'
Seeing as winter climbing is such a total body pump, you can combine any of the above exercises into horrendous circuit training style super-sets to produce the ultimate training affect. For example a favourite of mine is to do 10 ice axe pull-ups, 10 press-ups and then skip for a minute to recover. Do this 4 or 5 times consecutively (no cheating rests in between) and then take a full 10 minute breather before doing it again, and again, and again.....!
Is it worth buy a pair of Ice Axes for this purpose?
I will do a Hillwalking skills course this month at Plas Y Brenin and for mental; preparation and psyche read Winter Skills (MT handbook), Winter Climbing + and A chance in a Million?
Why don't you just go out and try???
The real world is better than the crap you've quoted. Winter climbing is absolutely not about a "total body pump". Its what you make it.
Get out and just do it!!!!±!±!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Or just buy a broom handle and some cord, and make the same things yourself much more cheaply. (Likewise for the 'wrist roller' device advertised at the same site.)
What's happened to the DIY ethos?
Watch your elbows (Golfers' Elbow) doing pull-ups with axes.
> Watch your elbows (Golfers' Elbow) doing pull-ups with axes.
Suspend your tools from tape so they have some movement to reduce this. Or use roman rings.
I think on the courses they proved the Ice Axes, Crampons and boots anyway.
I like the Ice Axe trainers.
If I were to get a pair what one do you recommend for climbing and walking?
I like the Petzl Quarks and the Grivel Matrixes for climbing.
I will go and try on a course.
Isn't fitness important though especially cardiovascular fitness for stamina and the walk ins?
Thanks for the warning.
Its simple to make some very quickly with some chopped up broom handle, a drill, some cord and tape.
Simply cut a two short sections, about 8 inches, off the broom handle.
About 1 inch from the end of each broom handle drill a hole through wide enough to accommodate the cord.
Tie the cord in quite a long loop through this hole, about 4-5 inches long.
Wrap tape round the handles.
This way you can quickly and cheaply practice and it will be a more intense burn than using ice tools.
I'm sure you're a lovely bloke. But you worry far too much about training for this and training for that and preparing for this and preparing for that.
I hope one day you'll realise that life is too short to be spent trying and preparing to rock climb, winter climb or whatever. Just go out and try doing it.
You need counselling - you worry too much.
This is very similar to my approach, do 10 axe pull ups, 10 reps of lying on the floor holding my biceps and weeping, 3 axe pull ups till failure then 50 reps of beer-can curls to finish, have a 5 day breather and some alka-seltza to recover then repeat.
It's nice to know me and Niel are working off the same page so hopefully I'll be cruising III 3's in no time. Also nutrition is key, make sure to get plenty fish suppers in you and the odd kebab for protein.
Savvas I'm going to reiterate what I said about rock climbing to you here. Please stop worrying about all these grades you'll probably never climb. Just concentrate on enjoying climbing for what it is and please stop all this futile grade chasing. If you ever lead a trad or winter climb, just start on the very easy grades and work you're way up very slowly.
I suggest you start looking at winter climbs graded I - III, for you first few leads just stick to I's and II's. All this talk of grades V - VII is a pipe dream you may never realise. I know I'll certainly never lead a grade VII winter route!
You can train as much as you like and read as many books as have ever been written but you still won't be as good at winter climbing until you actually do it many many times (outside on a mountain I mean here) as someone that starts with a reasonable basic knowledge and has progressed at their own rate for a few years and is leading around grade IV.
> As standards rise... Whether you are new to ice and aspire to lead your first grade V
What planet is this guy on?
I do not need couseling.
I do not worry to much.
In my post I was not referring to grades in the article but more the training regime.
Do you think training is important though?
Reading books keeps you psyched.
I am not going for the grades but just being fit and conditioned enough to enjoy it.
I do think nutrition is important: protein for strength and recovery, carbs for energy etc.
For what you will be doing in Scotland this winter the only physical training I think you will need is cardio, preferably long days walking steep hills with a moderately heavy rucksack. However doing some calf raises may also help you too.
I have found for nearly all the grade IV 4 climbs and below I have lead that no other training is necessary and most winters I stop climbing rock/indoors around October. Some years I go to the gym but I mostly concentrate on cardio.
I would be very suprised if you are leading above grade III or seconding above IV,4 this year.
Thanks for way to make cheap training tools.
I will get on it as soon as possible.
I do not have access to the hills apart from the hillwalking skills course I will be doing at Plas Y Brenin.
What I have access to is the two gyms near me where I have started cardio training (20 mins X trainer followed by 20 mins vertical cycle. I also do some resistance work to help my damaged tendon that I twisted at a party back in my college days.
I think you recommended A chance in a Million?and someone else recommended the MT book Winter Skills.
I thought you wanted to boulder with me this winter?
I prefer Mile End to The Arch.
Yeah I'd be up for meeting up bouldering sometime this winter for sure, just a case of picking the best weekend. I'm still trying to rock climb outside when I can at weekends right now and other weekends have been busy.
> Hello Stevo.
> I do not have access to the hills apart from the hillwalking skills
Then find a tall building with lots of steps, put a 10kg pack on walk up the steps, take the lift down and repeat until exhaustion, or don't bother because it would be crazy. With a basic level of fitness and leg strength you will be fine, just be prepared for long tiring days in some amazing positions on relatively easy ground. Lovely!
It is of course your choice but I have seconded grade VII and have never done an 'ice axe pull up', grade I & II is much more your calves. It would be like finger board training to climb F4+ indoors
p.s. Buy some warm belay mitts and warm + light clothing generally.
My legs are very strong and I feel that my cardiovascular fitness is improving but I need to increase my walking speed.
I heard that the walk-ins and walk-outs can be very tiring and time consuming.
Was seconding at that grade really hard?
I will look into the clothing
> Or just buy a broom handle and some cord, and make the same things yourself much more cheaply. (Likewise for the 'wrist roller' device advertised at the same site.)
> What's happened to the DIY ethos?
IMO u dont need any of that crap! Work on your rock climbing and strong hands and fingers will transfer just fine for all the excitement you can handle in winter!
As above. Just get out and enjoy the day! If you need to be doing one arm pull ups on a single axe you'll soon be on the front of the climbing magazines but if your like most people you'll be laying one on simple grade IV's anyway! lol
"IMO u dont need any of that crap!"
"My legs are very strong"
But do they have the right kind of strength? In my experience if climbing sustained ice my calfs are never strong enough without a lot of targeted training. But I doubt you'll be doing much of that anyway on your first year winter climbing in scotland.
Also having strong calfs from bouldering won't help you much on big walkins ( and outs ) or indeed plodding up long snow slopes.
> Suspend your tools from tape so they have some movement to reduce this. Or use roman rings.
Yes, that sounds like a good solution
What do you mean by right kind of strength?
Are you talking about strength endurance?
> IMO u dont need any of that crap!
Since you replied to me - rather than the person who suggested these things - let me just say that I agree with you. I was merely raising an eyebrow at the suggestion that anybody should pay 10 quid for what's nothing more than a broom handle.
I'm just saying I can rock climb all summer a lot and still not have strong enough calfs for sustained front pointing in water ice, however i doubt you'll do much of that in your first season in scotland.
Same goes for long days on the ben, the only thing that really prepares you for a long hard day winter climbing is a lot of shorter days winter climbing, however a lot of cardio training and especially walking up steep hills and / or using the stairs machine at the gym helps. Ideally you'll want to do some long days walking with a sack on as prep ( as you won't be able to winter climb prior to the trip), even getting the train down to the south downs and walking 20 miles along the south downs way with a rucksack on will help you massively.
Also don't underestimate just how tiring it can be plodding up a 45 degree snow slope, getting to indicator wall on the Ben is like walking up a km of 45 degree sand dune (well nearly!)
Having strong legs from lifting weights or bouldering is all well and good but it won't really help you much for winter climbing IMO.
> Hello Luke.
> My legs are very strong and I feel that my cardiovascular fitness is improving but I need to increase my walking speed.
> I heard that the walk-ins and walk-outs can be very tiring and time consuming.
> Was seconding at that grade really hard?
> I will look into the clothing
Are they tiring? Some are, it varies. I find it's the heavy pack that makes my legs and lungs burn but if you are fit it goes as soon as you stop to rest.
Yes, I found it hard. I'm not even sure we reached the grade VII stuff as we retreated at mid point. I find grade V tough enough! Technique-wise... not strength.
Have fun it's amazing and scary!
I climb with feet, legs and core the majority of the time.
I have read the article and I found it very useful....
A lot of the stuff in it tey taught me at Ellis Brigham and rest is pretty similar to what Johnny Dawes and Gaz Parry taught me.
I was going to get that Will Gadd book anyway but for The Alps in the summer.... looks like I will get it for Scottish Winter instead.
Thanks for the advice.
The gyms I go to do not have stepper and stairs machines....
I do not know why.
The Fitness First I used to go - but now is an EasyGym - had them.
I looked for charity trek challenges to get involved with but there are none till next year.
Not necessarily. Going at snails pace isn't going to get you anywhere in a hurry, obviously, but an important point in Will Gadd's book is that rushing too fast early on just makes you tired for the route. Better to keep a modest, but steady pace, then be as efficient as possible while actually climbing.
You can always just get up earlier if you're worried about time, and don't fixate on a particular route too much in case someones got up even earlier than you and beaten you to it
> Not necessarily. Going at snails pace isn't going to get you anywhere in a hurry, obviously, but an important point in Will Gadd's book is that rushing too fast early on just makes you tired for the route. Better to keep a modest, but steady pace, then be as efficient as possible while actually climbing.
> You can always just get up earlier if you're worried about time, and don't fixate on a particular route too much in case someones got up even earlier than you and beaten you to it
Yup, and also remember to have to correct amount of layers on, on the approach. And by correct, I mean not a lot. When you start hiking, you should actually feel cold. This means that when you actually arrive at the base of the climb, you're not sweating bucket loads and haven't soaked all you undies or all your clothing...
Mountain Spirit is a troll.
Having read Neil Gresham's wise (sic) words, I suspect he may also be a troll.
Mountain spirit is not a troll.
Gresham might be, though. Have you seen him topless? Muscles like that don't seem human
IMO I think Neil is not saying from nothing or winter walking to leading grade V but I think he is saying from leading/seconding grade III or leading grade IV (possible hard grade II's) to leading grade V.
Thanks for that.
When I did a Winter Skills course at Glenmore Lodge I was walking very slowly and one of the instructors said I was slowing down the group.
This was down to me being ill and having tendon problems which I am cdealing with now.
Will Gadd seems to be a top guy!.... I know he is am amazing climber and climbed up to IX in winter with the awesome Greg Boswell!
I think your getting up earlier idea is good.
Looking forward to meeting you.
I have seen photos of Neil Gresham topless deep water soloing and sport climbing.
He is not a troll.
Gresham has been climbing since he was young and he trains a alot and trains hard.
I wish a I had a body like Neil!
> Will Gadd seems to be a top guy!.... I know he is am amazing climber and climbed up to IX in winter with the awesome Greg Boswell!
Which route was that?
> Hi Richard.
> IMO I think Neil is not saying from nothing or winter walking to leading grade V but I think he is saying from leading/seconding grade III or leading grade IV (possible hard grade II's) to leading grade V.
He's not saying that, he's saying those starting out and aspiring to lead their first V (probably assuming they're already competent rock climbers). Not that far fetched - plenty climbers nowadays do things like Point Five in their first season. I would say though they are probably naturally quite good and they don't include me!
Ha, yeah, me too. I meant 'troll' in the mythical beast sense, not in the nothing-better-to-do-than-lurk-on-the-internet-winding-people-up sense
I wish I could climb V in my first season this year!
I have a good front point technique and practice most of the stuff in that uk climbing article on indoor bouldering walls for example body positioning and finding centre of gravity.
It can be achieved with training.
Elsewhere on the site
This Winter Conditions page gives a summary of what is being climbed at the moment, what is 'in' nick and what the prospects are... Read more
Atom Series: Synthetic insulated mid layers AR: All-Round. Significantly warmer and more protective than a fleece hoody, this... Read more
Nikwax’s uncompromising environmental ethos has once again been recognised and rewarded by a trusted authority in... Read more
2012 saw the release of the beautiful first volume of definitive Yorkshire Gritstone climbing, produced by the YMC with Robin... Read more
If asked to name a British female climber who stood out at a time when British women's climbing wasn't... Read more
Hot Aches Productions premiered their latest film Redemption: The James Pearson Story at Kendal Mountain Festival on... Read more