You can practice ice bouldering while unroped at the base of a frozen waterfall or on glacial seracs in those areas where a fall poses no threat of serious injury. As with bouldering on rock, ice bouldering enables you to really push your technical ability without the distractions of exposure and high risk. You can work out new, very specialized techniques. You can develop strengths to deal with specific problems. And on ice in particular, you can discover, realize, and expand upon the limitations, potential, and strength of each tool—and the ice itself—in a fairly safe manner.
Although ice bouldering is relatively less dangerous than lead climbing on ice, remember that in even a very short fall, crampon points can snag in the ice or on your own pant leg, snapping an ankle or tearing a calf muscle. A toprope reduces the chance of such occurrences. But the constant use of a toprope may also lessen the degree of concentration applied to each move, and you will consequently learn more slowly. Ice bouldering definitely has a place in a climber's development.
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