Selecting a few ice climbs as extreme classics from what must now be twenty thousand routes around the world is not an easy task. For the purposes of this book, 1 have chosen only from among those routes that I have personally been on (although in a few cases 1 haven't succeeded), which, at this point, number roughly a thousand. About three hundred of these were first ascents. This criterion means that the information is firsthand and that the relative grading of the climbs is consistent. I have tried to choose examples of highly technical climbs on vastly different types of ice in a wide range of geographical locations—climbs with a singular character that, though it changes somewhat with different conditions, always provides the climber with a lasting experience. If you make an ascent of any one of these great climbs, you will come away richer than when you began the climb.

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