/ How to get started? ( ice climbing)

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Straightpipessavelives - on 10 Sep 2017
After having climbed the big 3 in the U.K. I'm interested in taking up ice climbing. Can anybody offer any advice or contacts to get started??

jmerrick21 - on 10 Sep 2017
In reply to Straightpipessavelives:

GarethSL on 10 Sep 2017
In reply to Straightpipessavelives:

Could you explain to us first what you would define as ice climbing? Are you looking to do pure ice climbing routes or more winter mountaineering?
Ron Rees Davies - on 10 Sep 2017
In reply to Straightpipessavelives:

> After having climbed the big 3 in the U.K.

Which "Big 3" ? Which routes? Conditions??
Doug on 10 Sep 2017
In reply to Ron Rees Davies:

Guess he means the highest 3 in the UK, so
Ben Nevis
Ben Macdui
indigo on 10 Sep 2017
In reply to Straightpipessavelives:

I'd recomend joining a club and going along to a winter meet to learn from more experienced members. That's how I started out. I did a couple of trips to Scotland and Cogne as a second before I began to lead. I did a couple of winter skills courses too - one at Glenmore Lodge and one in Chamonix, both were excellent. Once you've got some experience I think Rjukan is a great place to learn to lead as you can find routes which are (for winter climbing) relatively safe, though I started out leading in Cogne. I've hired guides from time to time in the Alps too - I learnt a lot from them. Read instruction books too - not just technique and ropework but things like avalanche awareness, mountain weather and self rescue. There are two indoor ice climbing walls that I know of - one in London and one in Kinlochleven so if you are local you could give it a try. One thing I would say is that winter climbing is risky so it pays to be cautious. There are a lot of objective dangers to assess - weather, avalanche, route conditions and days are short if you do cock something up. Build your experience slowly and choose objectively less dangerous routes at first. For Brits who only climb a couple of weeks a year I think its hard to gain the experience to assess risk. I have a strict rule that if I'm not sure I don't do it. Finally for leading on water ice (say Rjukan / Cogne rather than Scottish mixed) which is where I sense your question was leading, I felt there was a definate transition from easier routes (say WI2-3) where you could generally place gear (screws) from the relative comfort of a ledge or easier angled ice to harder routes (say WI3-4+) where you have to place gear under pressure on steep ground where you are totally committed to hanging from one axe on your front points. You have to be able to do that cooly and confidently to climb safely so be prepared for that feeling of sheer terror ;). I've less experience at Scottish mixed and I just find it nails - more of a battle for survival most of the time.

Good luck - winter climbing in whatever guise you choose is simply awesome. Mike
GrahamUney - on 10 Sep 2017
In reply to Straightpipessavelives:

It might be worth you being a bit more specific about what you mean by the 'Big Three'.
Climber Phil on 11 Sep 2017
In reply to indigo:
There's also an ice wall at kong adventure in Keswick
mrphilipoldham - on 11 Sep 2017
In reply to Master of Ice:

Also at the Ellis Brigham (I think) on Deansgate in Manchester.
olddirtydoggy - on 11 Sep 2017
In reply to Straightpipessavelives:

I'm assuming you mean the Yorkshire 3 peaks?
Casa Alfredino - on 11 Sep 2017
In reply to Straightpipessavelives:

Totally outrageous plug here, but we have recently started doing courses with an IFMGA guide in the Dolomites. Really beautiful spot and good ice in a gorge with very little approach. The advantage of learning on water ice if that is indeed what you want to do is that it teaches you how to sort the basics of movement on ice much more thoroughly than in Scotland where as others have said it can be more about survival than anything else. It means that when you get to doing scottish winter you know you have the technical ability and then you can purely concentrate on the survival aspect confident in the knowledge that you can climb what's infront of you.

The price is based on accomodation, guide, and cost spread between 2 so it's pretty good value for money and the courses start from 2 nights and can be as long as you want and tailored to how you want to do it.
mutt - on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to indigo:
Indigo has it just about nailed. I'd just add that you need to have a good idea of what type of winter climbing you want to do. Going to the mountains without some clear goals will probably mean falling in with the winter walking. The Climbers Club run an annual trip to Rjukan and that, if your goal is water ice climbing, might well give you a quick route to begin as a winter climber. On my first trip I paid for a guide which really opened my eyes. Technically its not that different to rock climbing but getting taken up one of the classics early on will blow your mind and give you the thirst for more. Once you've got a few leads under your belt it's not difficult to find climbing partners.
I guess that advice translates, to a degree, to other forms of winter mountaineering to.
In all cases, be cautious!
And borrow your gear for the first couple of years. The gear is expensive and many people don't pursue it the sport for that long.
Post edited at 16:01
pebbles - on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to mutt:

Hi Mutt, just to jump in and stop any confusion - the CC meets you mention are not beginners meets, and they are club meets not open meets. So its not really a 'quick route to begin as a winter climber' for the OP . Lots of other ways into it though, Indigo has mentioned quite a few. I looked at the OPs profile but its minimal - maybe give people a bit more idea what your (the OP that is) current experience is so people can give better suggestions? its not possible to tell from the profile what trad rock climbing you (the OP) have done for example - you could have been climbing for 10 years, or you could have done no actual rock climbing yet, and obviously where you lie on that scale makes a huge difference to what sort of skills are most important for you to learn and where to start. Good luck anyway
simonridout - on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to Straightpipessavelives:

Martin Moran,, runs Scottish winter climbing and Norway Ice Climbing courses. While I do not a spire to Ice Climbing, I have done several courses and expedition with his team and have never been disappointed.
profitofdoom on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to jmerrick21:

> Emigrate

But not to Australia or Egypt
spenser - on 14 Sep 2017
In reply to mutt:

I would echo Pebbles' comment. The Climbers' Club is very much not intended for teaching people, they're a very friendly bunch for the most part, however the ethos of the club is that you can expect your partner to know what they're doing in whatever climbing game you are playing.
My advice to the OP would be to get some solid summer mountain skills (especially nav and general mountain sense), go and do a winter skills course, learn the necessary ropework for trad climbing and get a decent amount of practice in doing that so that they can build bomber anchors quickly and without making a mess of them and then either go winter climbing with experienced people from a local club or hire an instructor for a few days (I've done a mix of these and enjoyed the limited amount I have done so far).

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