White Mountains Ice Climbing Basics

Last Updated on August 15, 2019

White Mountains Ice Climbing Basics

White Mountains is a portion of Appalachian Mountains, U.S., covering a lot of peaks which are 5,000 to 6,000 feet long. The highest peak is 6,288 feet tall, and it is called Mount Washington.People love to hike in the cliffs of White Mountains though they face many difficulties, accidents, ferocious weather during their journey.

In winter, the mountains get fully covered with ice, and the travelers have to learn ice climbing to reach the peaks. So, having sufficient training, knowledge, and proper gears is mandatory for ice climbing. In this article, we are enlisting top ice climbing basics, which will help you to climb cliffs in winter.

Necessary gears: you can’t even think about ice climbing without some essential gears. They assure your comfort, safety,and overall enjoyment during your journey. If you don’t have them, you can also lend them from any rent providing service.

They include climbing gear, ice axes,mountaineering boots,crampons, a large day pack, hiking socks, hiking gloves, warm clothes, sufficient foods, and water, etc. If you have all of these items and training,you are ready for your hike.

How to climb an icy rock

As ice climbing is not an easy task, you have to practice it again and again before your final ride. You can do it by hiring professionals or guides or practicing the described techniques with friends. Without proper mountaineering and ice climbing skills, you may fall from the rockface and face other accidents, which may lead you to death.

First of all,you need to adopt the necessary skills of moving your feet to jump on a cliff.The easiest way to move your feet upward can be done the crampon. It is more efficient and safer than using ice axes. There are a few crampon techniques as well as ice axes methods are described below:

Crampon techniques for low-slope cliffs

It is also called French technique or flat-floating technique on ice. It is suitable for small to moderate steep mountains which are covered with hard ice. On lower angle rockface, you can easily climb up pointing and plating your feet into the ice. You have to make your ankles more flexible as the slope increases.Plant the upper foot into the ice and then plant the lower one over it. Proceed diagonally like this.

Crampon techniques for high-slope cliffs

It is also called the German technique or front-pointing technique. It is mainly used for climbing steep rocks which have a higher slope than 45-degree. The Mountaineers have to place their feet into the ice by kicking and planting the front points.

Then stand by putting your weight on those two to four front points of the crampon frames. In this way, they can ascend the mountain. It is straightforward and requires footholds as you cant only rely on the crampon frames.

Combined crampon technique

It is a combined form of both German and French techniques. It is way more comfortable than direct flat-footing. You have to keep any foot splayed out and plant the front points of the other one.It is more efficient,especially when the slope of the cliff is uncertain. Do not kick the icy rock, again and again, to plant your crampon points as it can break the ice-piece you are climbing on.

 Ice Axe Techniques for low-slope cliffs

For climbing low-to-moderate-angle mountain,you need axes with other tools if you don’t want to use crampons.

You have to carry the ax by your head with the spike of the bottom of the shaft.Then walk forward similarly like the techniques described in the crampon section. As the slope increases, you have to move your body diagonally upward.

Ice Axe Techniques for high-slope cliffs

It is used for climbing mountains which have a higher slope than 45-degree. Face the icy surface and plant front points on it. Carry the axes with your head and push the pick above your chest area. You have to stretch to balance yourself on the hard ice. Don’t place your tools so hard that the ice surface becomes weak.

Safety tips

  • Cover yourself with warm clothes and essential equipment before you start climbing.
  • Always choose a hard and thick layer of the ice surface to climb on
  • Use belay devices with you for avoiding the accidents by slipping feet or falling from rocks
  • Keep some ice screws anchored for preventing accidents.
  • Whenever you are placing anything on the ice, be sure of adequately securing them in the ice.
  • Don’t extend your body, legs, and hand too much.
  • Start your journey in the early morning so that you can reach the peak and also come back home before night.

Final Words

There are more techniques which are designed for different kind of slopes, ice-types, and altitudes of the mountain. Learn all of them by practicing before starting your final ride. You can not reach the peaks and return home safely without adopting these skills very well.


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