The 10 Essentials You Need to Start Ice Climbing

These essentials will help you ascend out on the ice


Winter sports season is in its prime and one fun way to experience all the snow and ice is by ice climbing. Ascending ice formations including ice falls, cliffs and rock slabs, is a rewarding and exciting experience. But, if you try to climb any of these gorgeous pieces of nature-made art, you won’t get too far without the right equipment. Having the right equipment will keep you safe, and help you climb higher. So here’s a basic guide to what you need to get started with ice climbing.

Belay Device

Belay devices are used to take up slack line and brake against a fall. You’ll need a two slot tubular-type belay for ice climbing.


You’ll need a few different types of carabiners for ice climbing. Bring a few locking carabiners to use with your belay device. Also, consider investing in a sling that you can clip to your harness.  


Quickdraws are used to allow the rope to run freely through bolt anchors while leading.

Dynamic and Static Rope

These two types of rope are necessary for any type of climbing. Static rope has little stretch to it in contrast to dynamic which is somewhat elastic.   


While ice climbing you may be hit with falling ice chunks or snow from above, so it is always necessary to wear a helmet.


Boots made specifically for ice climbing are made with plastic or leather with a flat sole for attaching crampons. The rigid, stiffness to the boot is important for specific ice climbing techniques such as, frontpointing, or climbing with the front points of crampons.


There are many specific harnesses made for ice climbing. They tend to be less bulky and more comfortable since you already will have extra padding from your winter outfit. Also, specialized ice climbing harnesses will fit over bulky clothes and have multiple gear loops for your tools.


Crampons are metal spikes that attach to your climbing boots. Often, ice climbers prefer rigid crampons that usually have 10 or 12 points. These are an essential tool for climbing ice.

Ice Axes

Ice climbing requires specific tools to help you get up the cliff. Ice climbing axes are available with picks and hammers or adzes to hit into the ice and help pull yourself upwards.

Climbing Pack

A good climbing pack goes beyond just storing your extra layers. Climbing packs should have extra straps on the outside to attack your tools and should be durable and comfortable.



No votes yet

Let's Be Friends. Follow The Active Times on Facebook!