If starting from zero ice climbing sure is expensive. However, tools do not go bad, boots last, and crampons get resharpened. After the initial purchase, the sport (not including guides and Ouray) is free. Unlike skiing where I blow through a new set of skis and boots every 1 1/2 to 2 years, I've got 1st gen BD turbo express screws, 10yo Koflach's, a buddy is still rocking the footfangs I was goodwilled, my bags are 3-8yo, my puffy's 4and 6. All the above has been used three to four times a week, some years more, some less. My point being with a bit of filing, some patching, and just general care the only reason to really need to spend more money after you start is well to spend more money (excluding ropes and slings).