Shepherds and englishmen

The first real evidence of ice climbing comes from the sixteenth century. Alpine shepherds attached spiked horseshoe devices to their feet, and these, along with iron-tipped alpenstocks, allowed them to negotiate the slippery ice on the steep slopes they crossed while controlling their flocks in high Alpine valleys. These same shepherds certainly challenged medieval superstitions that held there were demons on summits and that glaciers were dragons that would steal down at night to drain the...

Contents

Foreword H Acknowledgments 9 Introduction t i General Information Icy Roots, Crystal Blossoms A Brief History of Ice 23 Shepherds and Englishmen 25 Scottish Gullies and North Walls 25 Postwar and into the 1960s 28 The New Ice Age The Great Curve 30 The North American Contribution 32 Amalgamation 35 Coming of Age 36 Off-Season High-Mountain Water Ice 37 All Mixed Up 38 One Man's Frostbite The Ice Experience 43 Fear and Confidence 44 The Alpine Ballroom 49 Grabbing Friendship by the Ankle 53 Mind...

Fear And Confidence

To dance beneath the diamond sky, with one band waving free. , . It is July 20, 1967. A hot Teton afternoon. Summits hover in the haze above Cascade Canyon, whose pines and stream-crossed meadows provide the background for a sixteen-year-old's approach to his first ice climb. The boy's boots leave perfect waffle-prints in the dust of the old trail as he takes long strides to keep up with his older partner. They are headed toward a logjam in the creek, across from the rocky bulk of Storm Point....

Axes and Hammers

Ice axes come in countless variations on two basic styles one-piece heads or modular tools. One-piece heads cannot vibrate loose, but pick loosening shouldn't be a serious problem on well-designed modular tools. Tools with interchangeable parts allow you to replace worn or damaged components, as well as to switch out the picks and or adzes to better suit your purpose on a specific climb. The market bristles with pick designs, some useful, others less so. The pick of a traditional ice axe juts...

H

The next day we delved deep Wo the Gothic lenafe of a 150-foot mineralized golden i l i tnj-l -x -l j.hm m lim- laoyrmtn ot cmmittrmng mushrooms draped from a huge rock cave end supported by a pilar of poorly welded pendl kldes which required smooth climbing to avoid slidng through with the picks. Crampon holds could be fashioned by kicking the entire toe into the friable surface, making an mtrustworthy step. Protection 1 this 50-foot WIS* section came only from the mind. A second, mare...

No Se Gana Pero Se Goza

The climbing magazines would have us believe there is a god called 5.14 to whom we must all pay homage. Regardless of the personal value of our efforts, we are often judged, and we judge ourselves, by the numbers attached to the climbs we do. But in the larger context of life outside the gymnastic prime, the quality and content of the climbing experience become more important than the grade. In particular, being alone on a hard new route in the high mountains can add new excitement to a mundane...

Protection and Belays

It would be difficult to describe every possible way of dealing with all the potential protection challenges and belay situations you will encounter as you climb ice, but a few basics will give you the tools to begin to safely acquire your own experience Eventually there may be times when you will make a belay off one screw only or even just two tools, but you will not understand enough of the variables and forces involved to do this sort of thing safely in the beginning. Many waterfall climbs...

Going Soto

Alone on ice is a wonderful place to be, At times, soloing exposes the climber to greater danger, but very often the experienced person is safer when alone. The soloist leaves behind doubt, fear, and competitive urges, and strikes out on a journey of self-discovery, vulnerable to new insight and experience. Every move takes on added significance, as, in climber philosopher Willi Unsoeld's words, you are walking the edge of imminent dissolution, Without question the most dangerous situation for...

Canada

The entire western half of Canada contains range after range of wilderness peaks, starting with the great massifs of Mount Logan and Mount St. Elias in the north, with their Denali-like climbing and scale, and extending south to the Coast Range and Mount Waddington, five hundred miles north of Vancouver. All of these remote ranges are heavily glaciated and offer major wilderness ice adventures to those willing to make the discovery on their own. In the winter months the mountains of Vancouver...

Climbing Extreme he

As you approach the vertical, there will come a time when you will no longer be able to stand in balance over your frontpoints. Although it is possible by brute strength to hold yourself vertically up against the ice, a far more efficient method is something I have termed the monfcey hang Beginning at the bottom of a near-vertical, vertical, or gently overhanging section of ice, the correct sequence is as follows 1. Plant both hand tools comfortably high and far enough apart so that there is no...

Dark Glasses and Goggles

On glaciers and snowfields it is necessary to wear dark glasses to avoid snow blindness and other eye damage caused by ultraviolet and infrared rays. Even on a cloudy dayf infrared rays can blind you almost without discomfort, until it is too late. To be adequate for high mountain use, glasses must filter 100 percent of ultraviolet and infrared rays. The best usually come with leather side guards and, sometimes, nose guards. If you wear prescription sunglasses, make your optician fully aware of...

Nutrition

I am not an expert nutritionist, but it does seem important to make a couple of observations regarding diet for the ice climber. Although carbohydrates provide the best source of energy for most sports, the special demands of ice climbing cold conditions and long-term output of effort would seem to indicate a need for greater proportions of protein and fat. Caffeine is a vaso-constrictor, which cuts off blood to extremities. Therefore, tea and coffee cannot be recommended since they increase...

Acknowledgments

This book is a labor of love that would have been stillborn without the involvement of the following consenting adults and two great kids . Photographers Greg Lowe, Mike Lowe, George Lowe III, Bill Belcourt, David Breashears, Brad Johnson, Chris Jones, Jon Krakauer, Dan Levison, Tom McCarthy, Mike Munger, Christie Northrop, Jean-Marc Porte, Thierry Renault, Ren Robert, Fran ois-Guy Thivierge, Lance Wilcox, Mark Wiiford, and Willis Wood. I would especially like to thank lan Tomlinson, who was a...

The Eastern Hemisphere

The Scottish winter hills are the best training ground imaginable for the climber who eventually plans to go to the Alps, Andes, or Himalaya. They are also rewarding in their own right Spending a day on one of the fine gully or buttress routes of Ben Nevis, occasionally being engulfed in spindrift or buffeted by the storm while grappling with a bulge of snow-ice, or trying to delicately frontpoint up a rock slab that is thinly veneered in verglas, you get a sense of being in bigger, more...

Introduction

Sky Pilot Ice Climbing

The unencumbered rock climber moves freely over good rock, like an ape swinging through the forest. At first glance, the differences between the nearly naked rock climber and the bundled and spiked ice climber are glaring. To achieve a totally pure experience, the rock climber, if he or she so desires, might reject all took even clothing and shoes. One is obliged, though, to use tools to climb ice. Those who choose the pleasures and challenge of frozen waterfalls or alpine ice slopes must be...

Water Guide

Rm overview of world ice with sixteen selected cum Good ice can be found around the world, often in the most unlikely places. In a cold year excellent and challenging though often short-lived ice climbing turns up in a number of unexpected places for example, Georgia in the United States, a locale more normally associated with warm Southern charm than with icy cliffs. The Caucasus Mountains in Russia contain huge mixed routes and pure ice climbs. Circling the globe, the high mountains of...

Ortopvr Ii Wi Ms

Location You will find Octopussy in the Rigid Designator amphitheater in East Vail, Colorado. Elevation Gain About 120 feet, including the Seventh Tentacle Equipment Four ice screws, half a dozen quickdraws, Friends to 3 Season December through the end of March Comments Although the Seventh Tentacle varies greatly in difficulty from M6 to M7 depending on how far down the ice hangs, Octopussy itself will probably always be M8 only slightly easier when the curtain hangs down more than a few feet...

Following the Lead

The rope directly in front of you is often at risk when you are following an ice pitch, If there is any question that you may have to place a pick close to where the rope lies, use the pick of one tool to hook the rope to the side of the tool that is in the ice, keeping it out of harm's way. Ice screws can be removed just as they were placed. Removing drive-in, screw-out ice pitons, however, usually requires some initial chopping to clear the eye for spinning. This protection is more difficult...

Tubular Ice Screws

Depending on the quality of the ice, a well-placed tubular screw will hold from two thousand to five thousand pounds, providing excellent protection. In rotten ice, screws hold very little. Obviously, longer screws with larger diameters and deeper threads will hold better in snow-ice and rotten ice. In solid water ice, long screws are unnecessary, In practice, 90 percent of the time you can get by with screws eight to On WH npproodwi ami low-angl smew and ke, lelescttpk ski poles ere we...

Mind Marathon

Let us livejor the beauty of our o m reality. The Chink, from the novel Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, by Tom Robbins Late one winter, Bill Johnson, a staff writer for Sporls illustrated, called me long distance. Would you be willing to do some ice climbing for an article we have in mind he asked. An image of a solitary figure high on a frozen waterfall popped into my head. Sure, said, if 1 can choose the climb. No problem there, replied Bill. So we made arrangements to meet at the end of March...

Clothing

Dressing for warmth and comfort in an activity such as ice climbing, which can take place under conditions ranging from those found at the dry, frigid poles in winter to a near-freezing rain on Ben Nevis in a thaw, is an art in itself. Although new fabrics and insulations have greatly increased comfort and survival probability, there are as yet no true miracle solutions to the age-old problems of wet and cold, and to the threats of hypothermia and frostbite. Until the advent of synthetic...

Suggested Exercises Crampon Practice

Crampon Technique

Good crampon technique comes as a result of confidence. Confidence is gained through experience. Slow movement allows time for fear. Fear interferes with pure experience. So, to maximize experience, short-circuit fear, and foster good crampon technique, set up a toprope on low-angle ice. Then, with an alert belayer, run as fast as you can up and down the slope. Try this with an upright posture, and again from a light crouch with your back straight and knees bent, and yet again any way you...

Climbing Low Angle

Depending on the quality of the ice, a natural progression for climbing low-angle ice up to about 45 is as follows. On flat ground walk normally pied ntarche , but with a stance that is slightly wider than usual to avoid having your crampons snagging the other foot or trouser leg. Hold your axe f gt toIrt in one hand by the head like a cane with the pick pointing forward. On slight inclines, splay your feet like a duck, en canard, and follow a straight line. As the slope steepens, make a...

Anchor Technique Using a VThread

Thread Ice

Since the mid-1970s I've been using an anchor technique called a V-thread, primarily for rappeling to avoid having to leave behind screws or sections of conduit. A V-thread is faster and easier than cutting a bollard, which is also a clean technique. A V-thread is made by placing two screws about six inches apart and angling them so that the holes will meet as far Plins N rtrw i the V Photo Ion lmlmsMl Plins N rtrw i the V Photo Ion lmlmsMl back in the ice as possible. After placing the first...

Blind Faith Tte de Gramusat France

Tete Gramusat

The T te de Gramusat is the location of several of the longest and most difficult waterfall climbs in Europe. A 1,400-foot-high limestone ziggurat draped in fangs and curtains of ice, its main face was first ascended in January 1991 by Frenchman Fran ois Damilano and Scotsman Robin Clothier. They called their route Gramusat Direct. Although the climb does go up the center of the face, it is not actually direct in that it diagonals from left to right to avoid a huge roof 500 feet above the...

The North Wall Era Ice Climbing

Climbing Rope Hemp Ice Axe

Climbers experiencing what the Scots call 'full conditions 27 Scottish Gullies and North W lls The nailed boots, hemp rape, ten-point tampons, and collapsible 90cm straight-pick ice axe that represented state-of-the-art ice-climbing gear hiring the dank 'North Woll Era of the 1910s and '30 Phto Kern Rokrl Nevis in 1906, cutting steps with a long axe and wearing nailed boots as in the Alps. On a 1974 pilgrimage, I made an ascent of the route as one of my first climbs in Scotland Even with the...

Cascade Climbing In France

Climbing Into Space

In this book I have given special prominence to the laws that govern gravity. Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time For almost two decades the commonly held conceit among North American ice climbers has been that they set the standard for the esoteric activity of climbing frozen waterfalls. Even European climbers seemed to agree, many of the best of them making a pilgrimage to Canada to do such classics as La Pomme d'Or in Quebec or Weeping Pillar, Polar Circus, and the like in the Rockies....

Patrick Mcnerthney Climber

Doug Klewin Hunter

Within ten years, equipment evolved drastically. Simple curved or angled picks gave way to reverse-curve interchangeable picks, which now sported graphite shafts and specialized adzes. Footfang crampons and Snarg ice pitons made their appearance. Internationally, the number of ice climbers had swelled, and avid aspirants were now cruising climbs within their first few outings that had been the ultimate in the previous decade. In the early 1980s, though, ice climbing took a back seat to sport...

Maclntyre Colton Route Grandes Jurasses France

Grandes Jurasses

The Maclntyre Colton route follows ice fields, gullies, and chimneys on the right flank of the famous Walker Spur of the Grandes Jorasses. Whereas the classic climb on the crest of the granite spur is perhaps the most elegant of the three last great challenges of the 1920s and J30s the other two being the north faces of the Matterhorn and the Eiger the Maclntyre Colton is a bit terrifying to contemplate. One can easily imagine the heavy rockfall of summer funneling down the line of ascent....

Brida Eveil Falls Telluride Colorado

Jeff Lowe Bird Brain Boulevard

Time doesn't just flow It leaps tall lives in a single bound, creeping along like a stalking cat, then pouncing when you look away. It is hard to believe that over twenty years have surged by since the first ascent of this classic waterfall. Bridalveil doesn't just flow either. In summer it crashes, pounds, plunges so gracefully from a distance, so thunderously amid the giant conglomerate boulders in its basin below. As you look up at the roaring column, face dripping with Spray, it is...

The Northwest Face of Kangtega Khumbu Nepal

Kangtega Peak Secret Entrence

Twin-summited Kangtega towers like a glacier-capped fortress above Thyang-boche Monastery, the heart of the spiritual lives of the Sherpas. Whereas its more famous neighbor to the north, Ama Dablam, represents the epitome of mountain elegance with its clean spire and sweeping ridges, Kangtega is complex, blocky, and forcefully inaccessible from the northwest vantage. Its sheer West Face falls for thousands of feet from the summit plateau, threatened by ice cliffs several hundred feet high. The...

The United States South of the Canadian Border

The northeastern United States is well known for the wide variety of winter ice on such crags as Cathedra Ledge in North Conway, New Hampshire, which harbors dozens of ice climbs, including the famous four-pitch Repentence and its harder neighbor, Remission. Not far away, Frankenstein Cliff offers routes in ail grades up to 300 feet, while 600-foot climbs on Cannon Mountain, such as the Black Dike and Fafnir, have a more serious air. The gullies in Huntington Ravine the birthplace of winter ice...

Glissading

In reality, the most basic glissade is not made on your feet at all, but rather inelegantly on your rump in the same manner as a child slides down a snowbank. This sitting glissade is used on snow that is too soft to allow sliding on your boot soles. A sitting glissade should not be used on harder snow, however, because there is less control compared with a crouching or standing glissade, although the lower position allows for a faster self-arrest. Much drier and more enjoyable, though still...

Gimme Shelter Mount Quadra Canadian Rockies

Gimme Shelter Canadian Rockies

Al Low tad the tatredtfctery pitch on on MMK lt e f l attempt on Gimme Shelter Al Low tad the tatredtfctery pitch on on MMK lt e f l attempt on Gimme Shelter 1 first saw this line in October 1980, when 1 went into the Valley of the Ten Peaks to solo the Supercouloir on Mount Deltaform. On the drive in to the parking area at Moraine Lake, I noticed the impressive streak of ice plastered to the 1,000-foot rock band below the hanging glacier on the East Face of Mount Quadra. Although it was only...

Use of Crampons in Snow Climbing

In soft snow crampons may be more of a hindrance than an aid in climbing, The snow will often form a clump between the points, making a heavy, rounded mass that is slippery and awkward to walk on. When you must wear crampons in soft snow, a shuffling gait will keep clumping to a minimum. In the worst conditions, however, you will find it necessary to knock the clumps off with the spike of your axe, sometimes on each step. A plastic or rubber plate that attaches to the bottom of the crampon...

The Alpine Countries and the Caucasus

It is hard to say enough here about the Alps, and since hundreds of books have been written with the Alps as their subject, what follows is only a superficial survey of what is available. The Mont Blanc massif is perhaps the finest mountaineering playground on the planet. Ice climbs of all types and levels of difficulty are available here, usually not too far from a t l pb riqut station or hut. Year-round it is possible to ascend elegant snow aretes or climb classic snow and ice faces. During...

The Hungo Face of Kwangde Khumbu Nepal

From November 28 to December 3, 1982, David Breashears and I made the first ascent of the North Face of Kwangde 20,323 feet above the village of Hungo in the Khumbu region of Nepal. The face is 4,500 feet high and composed of tongues and smears of thin white ice over boilerplate granite slabs. The average angle taken from the Schneider map is 65 , exceptionally steep for an ice route. In the morning we would peek out of our BAT tents to see the sun rise over Makalu's pink granite. During the...

Keystone Green Steps Valdez Alaska

Keystone Canyon is a waterfall ice climber's paradise, with numerous climbs on both walls of the canyon accessible in minutes from the Richardson Highway, the main artery into the town of Vaidez. Before the winter of 1975-76, there had been no ice climbing in the area. That winter my friend John Weiland and my girlfriend, Christie Northrop, were working in Vaidez, the former as a carpenter and the latter as a tugboat cook in Prince William Sound, In late December I drove from Colorado to visit...

Accessories

U1aa Helmet Rockclimbing

In addition to clothing and hardware, a number of other items are, at various times, essential for ice climbing. A ham far alpine ke dimbing should ha either lightly padded or not padded at oN and have adjustable leg loops. A chest harness should be added for extensive gloder travel. Photo an Tomlinson A ham far alpine ke dimbing should ha either lightly padded or not padded at oN and have adjustable leg loops. A chest harness should be added for extensive gloder travel. Photo an Tomlinson A...

Glacier Travel and Crevasse Rescue

Crossing Crevasse From Carabiner

While it is true that some climbers manage to get away for years with unroped travel on snow-covered glaciers, far too many less fortunate others have been fatally surprised when an apparently safe expanse of snow collapsed and dropped them into the depths of an icy slot. Experience will help you to detect the subtle shadings and depressions that may indicate a hidden crevasse, but no one 1 know has climbed for long in an alpine environment and not fallen into a hole or two. Where the ice is...

The South Face of Trapecio Cordillera Huayhuash Peru

Taulliraju South Face

The trek around Peru's Cordillera Huayhuash is among the most engaging I have ever done It is one of the world's classic walks. Beginning in Chiquan on the northwest side of the range, the complete 100-mile circumnavigation can be done in an extremely comfortable ten to fifteen days. There is fantastic fishing in lakes Mitucocha, Carhuacocha, Jahuacocha, and Vjconga, and the views of Yerupaji, Siuli, Rasac, Rondoy, and Jirishanca are ever-changing and inspirational. I have made two circuits of...

The North American Contribution

Ice Climbing Ice Route Bourgeau Left

Mountain climbing in all its forms was slower to develop in Canada and the United States than in Great Britain and Europe. By the early 1960s, however, Americans had developed new equipment and techniques for rock climbing that allowed them to make the first ascents of some of the world's greatest rock walls in Yosemite Valley of California. In mid-decade, some Yosemite climbers traveled to the Alps and made the hardest rock climbs of the day, using hardware and techniques they had brought from...

Grand Central Couloir of Mount Kitchener Canadian Rockies

The Northeast Face of Mount Kitchener is one of the great roadside crags of the Canadian Rockies. Kitchener is really just a rolling high point on the eastern edge of the Columbia Icefields, sloping gently to the west. On the north and east, however, it is as if half of the mountain has been shoveled away by the bite of a giant spade, leaving a mile-wide concavity of ice-festooned, rotten limestone. The Grand Central Couloir allows passage through this shattered rock almost completely on ice...

Super Couloir Direct Mont Blanc du Tacu France

Super Couloir Mont Blanc Tacul

Mont Blanc du Tacul is a veritable ice-climbing university. This one mountain, which is accessible in an hour or so from the trttyhtriijue of the Aiguille du Midi on the French side or Courmayeur on the Italian side , harbors more than a dozen classic ice climbs and several excellent mixed routes. These range in difficulty from the 45 Gervasutti Couloir grade HI, Al2, 3,000 feet to the Super Couloir Direct grade V, WI5-, M6, 2,800 feet , one of the most compelling high-mountain ice climbs I...

Octopussy

. . . beneath the agony, his brain cleared. But of course The experiment.' Somehow, somehow he mwsi get out to Octopussy and give her her lunch'. Over the years, the frozen waterfalls on the limestone cliff bands east of Vail, Colorado, have provided ice climbers with a playground laboratory on which to improve old .skills and, occasionally, to develop new ones, The Rigid Designator area is particularly good in this regard. Easily approached and in a location normally free of avalanches, the...

The Northwest Spur of Mount Hunter Alaska

Mount Hunter Alaska

The Northwest Spur is a regular magical mystery tour, with all sorts of fine problems, from snow aretes to cornices to ice cliffs to mixed climbing on the Triangle Face. Although it is not particularly difficult in modern terms, it is the steepest of the major ridges on the north and west sides of Mount Hunter, rising directly above the Kahiltna International glacier landing strip, the jumping-off point for south-side Denali expeditions. It has been an obvious challenge for a couple of...

Deadmen Snow Stakes and Pickets

In relatively soft snow, the best protection can be arranged with the use of dcadmen, cabled aluminum plates ranging in size from about six by eight to ten by twelve inches. The smaller sizes are called dead-boys. Deadmen are pounded in the snow at an angle of about 45 if properly placed, they tend, under load, to sail or fluke deeper into the snow, providing variable security. On harder snow in particular the walls of bergschrunds, cornices, and the like tubular, V-shaped, or T-cross section...

Baffin Island and Greenland

Rock climbers have enjoyed the opportunities available on both Baffin Island and Greenland, but each has obvious potential for good ice climbing as well. Summer temperatures are often too warm for good conditions to exist in the couloirs that slash the huge granite walls, and there is not much in the way of steep alpine ice slopes on either of these giant islands. Most likely, however, winter would provide a host of possibilities on frozen waterfalls. This remains to be proven by a crew of...

The Southwest Buttress of Taufflraju Cordillera Blanca Peru

Corie Leis Ben Nevis

Translated from the native Quechuan, taulliraju means 'flower of ice. It is an apt description of a peak straight out of a climber's flight of fancy. Hovering over the ancient Incan pass of Punta Union like a crystal hummingbird, the mountain is at its most alluring and mystical in late afternoon light, with clouds swirling around its twin granite pillars. The south pillar was the scene of Nicolas Jaegers inspired solo climb in 1979, The southwest pillar is even more attractive, with its comet...

Belays and Protection on Snow

Boot Axe Belay

Snow belays and protection are less reliable and require more skill than those on rock or hard ice. Luckily, however, the forces to be controlled are usually not as large, and with experience, roped climbing on snow can be safe enough. We have already discussed the first two lines of defense in snow climbing self-belay and self-arrest. Ninety percent of the time these techniques will be effective even for a roped party. But if an axe is lost in a fall through a cornice or into a crevasse, an...

Index Ice Climbing

Accessories 98-99 aid climbing on ice 181 Aiguille Verte, Nant Blanc Face 2 Alaska, general survey 192-193 Alexander,J. M. 231 Alpamayo 30, 223 alpine ice 12, 15, 1 6, 17 Alps, general survey 198 Am a Dablam, South Face 35, 36 Ames Falls, Colorado 196 Anderegg, Melchior 25 Anderson, Rab 38, 226 Andromeda, Mount, 193 West Shoulder Direct 45-48 Angellucci, Serge 40, 209 Annapurna, South Face 37, 90 Athabasca, Mount, North Face 47, 120, 124, 193 Aubrey, Paul 36 Auger, Tim 33 avalanches 108-111 axe...

The New ke Age The Great Curve

Yvon Chouinard Early Equiptment

Of all the early pioneers of Alpine north walls, Anderl Heckmair is probably the most well known because of his brilliant leadership of the first ascent of the Eigerwand. In a virtuoso display of talent, he frontpointed the ice fields with such confidence that years later Heinrich Harrer still wrote with amazement about the performance in his classic book. The White Spider. But Heckmair's technique was not the only thing he had going for him. There is an old black-and-white photograph taken...