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January 6, 2005
Did you make a New Years Resolution this year?
Did it have anything to do with climbing? Maybe it was simply to
do more of it. If so that's a good thing, but what might be better
would be a resolution to work on your fundamentals. After all if
it's good enough for all the major sports jocks, it should be good
enough for you, and me.
Forming or serving as an essential component of a system or structure;
So tell me, when was the last time you got back to the core of
your ice climbing? Are you like most of us who just get out there
every weekend and do it, hoping that you're going to get better
by the act? Well with ice climbing, perhaps more than with some
other sports, it's easy to fall prey to the thought that we get
so little time to climb we don't have the time to practice. Unfortunately
that is precisely the wrong attitude to take. In fact the better
you are at the sport, the better you will feel about your climbing
and the more you will be able to do when you do get the opportunity
to get out. While it's always best to work on refining your skills
early in the season, there's no reason you can't do it any time.
A little time on a toprope or ice-bouldering with a partner is
ideal. You can move up and down and observe each other's techniques.
Often just an hour or so doing this at the start of a day's climbing
can make a huge difference. If you have a limited amount of time
you still can do the same kind of thing. The next time you're out,
whether you are leading or following, ask your partner to observe
you as you climb. Have them keep a running list and ask them to
remind you to about them as you climb. Believe me it helps.
1 - Keep your heels down. It's natural to want to stand up on
your toes as the climbing gets more intense, but keeping your heels
down will significantly relieve the tension on your calves and
make you more stable. In addition, depending on the placement of
your crampon's secondary points, it will let these points engage
so you will have more points in the ice.
2 - Just like on rock, if you need to hang keep your arms straight.
Hang on your skeleton. Don't hang with your elbow bent as that's
going to really pump you out. Definitely shake out when you have
3 - Concentrate on swinging the tool in a consistent arc and work
on being able to repeatedly place the pick exactly where you want
it to go. Imagine that you're pounding a nail and you need to hit
the point of the axe right on the head of the nail.
4 - Chat while you climb. Of course you need to concentrate and
too much chatter can be distracting. However, if you are talking
you are breathing and breathing is critical to relaxation, and
being relaxed is critical to getting through difficult sections
of a climb.
5 - Protect wherever you can. There is no rule about only placing
gear every 6, 8 or 10 feet. Put in ice gear where you can get a
stance and where it makes YOU feel good. You never know when the
ice is going to turn to crap, so if you find a good placement,
especially at a place where you can get a flat-footed stance, take
6 - Protect BEFORE the topout. The top-out is one of the most
critical times in an ice climb and it's easy to want it to be over
before it actually is. In addition, don't set your tools too far
over the top of a bulge before you make the move over. This will
push your feet out as you make the move over the lip, making you
wicked unstable. Keep your tools no more than a shaft-length from
the edge, ice quality permitting. Move your feet up and mantle
on the top of one or both tools to move onto the top.
7 - Practice placing ice screws. Do it with both hands. Keep practicing
it until you can do it in your sleep!
There's lots more things to be aware of, these are just a few.
Work together with a partner to practice your skills and you'll
have a much more relaxed and enjoyable experience when you're out
there on the ice.
International Mountain Equipment (IME) and International Mountain
Climbing School (IMCS) are delighted to announce the Twelfth
Annual Mount Washington Valley Ice Festival to be held February
10-13, 2005. For the 2005 event they are partnering with the
Cranmore ski area to host this event. It is considered one
of the premier climbing events in the country providing a great
opportunity to network, socialize, try new gear and participate
in technical clinics and private climbs. The Mt. Washington
Valley is one of the finest waterfall ice climbing destinations
in North America.
Featured visiting climbers and guides attending this year's event
include the Patagonia climbing ambassadors of Barry Blanchard (Canmore,
Alberta), Mark Wilford (LaPorte CO) Steve House and Kitty Calhoun
(Moab UT). Back for a sixth year will be Jack Tackle (Bozeman MT)
and Jared Ogden. Attending the Ice Fest for the first time will
be Sean Isaac (Canmore, Alberta), Ian Parnell (UK) and John Varco.
Presenting slideshows this year will be Sean Isaac, Ben Gilmore
(East Face of Moose's Tooth for which he and Kevin Mahoney received
a Piolet d'Or nomination), John Varco and others.
Up on one of the Mount Washington Valley's finest crags and want to know what that climb you're looking at is? Or maybe you're on your way up from Boston and want to check out the Ice Report for your upcoming weekend plans. Or more likely, you're at work just want to daydream about your next adventure. Well if you have a smart phone handy, you can get to NEClimbs from anywhere you have cell service. While it doesn't offer every single feature of the site and it's not an "app", in mobile form, it does do a whole lot and is very useful. Here is the live link to the mobile version of NEClimbs:
Check it out and if you have issues on your specific phone, please feel free to let me know.
Join us and LIKE us on Facebook. I'll try and post some interesting pix every Thursday and the latest Ice Report in the season, tho certainly not the whole Report. Here's where you can check it out:
Have fun and climb safe,
The White Mountain Report
North Conway, New Hampshire
|Winter alpinism is hard enough without the added dilemma of free-climbing ethics.|