6 Things You Need to Know When Trying Ice Climbing for the First Time

Travel blogger Lindsay Davies shares tips for your first time ice climbing!

By Lindsay Davies from ivebeenbit.ca


It may not be the most popular activity, but ice climbing is one of the most epic winter adventures. If you are trying ice climbing for the first time, here is what you should know.


Ice climbing is harder than it looks.

Getting the axes to stay in the ice is harder than it looks. Do not get discouraged if it takes you a couple of tries to break the surface and get a grip. You will also learn to spot areas that are easier to lock into the more you climb. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. If you start to get discouraged, just remember how badass you look wielding two axes! This alone is just one reason why you should give ice climbing a try.

It’s all in the legs.

It may be tempting to pull yourself up by your arms but I promise you will get real tired real fast. Using your leg muscles to push yourself up is a much better use of your energy. Your arms are meant to guide you, not propel you!


Wear older gear when ice climbing.

Ice climbing crampons are a little different than those you would use for general mountaineering. They are oriented vertically, meaning it looks as if a spike is shooting out of the front. This allows you to kick into the ice as you climb. Crampons are very sharp and there is a chance you could catch a pant leg while searching for your next foothold so it is best to leave your brand-new snow pants at home.

Dress in layers.

Chances are you will be cold when you first start, but the sweat will start to drip after a few swings of the axe. Once you have finished your climb and the chill starts to set in, you can throw those layers back on to stay warm throughout your ice climbing adventure.


You can climb waterfalls.

No joke. If you are an avid waterfall chaser, this is just one more way to enjoy their natural beauty. There are a number of places you can do this, including Banff in Alberta and the waterfall capital of the world in Hamilton, Ontario. However, not all waterfalls can be climbed and you must have a guide with you.

Be aware if you have vertigo or a fear of heights.

Since you are climbing upwards, there will be times when you must look down. If you are terrified of heights or have trouble with vertigo, you may have trouble ice climbing. You are consistently locked into a harness so if you do feel unwell, your guides can help you get down.


Ready to give ice climbing a shot this winter?

There are a number of places across Canada where you can try your hand at ice climbing. In Ontario, there are outfitters in Elora, Hamilton, Thunder Bay and many other cities across the province. As for Alberta, the corridor between Canmore and Banff is a hotbed for ice climbing activity. You can likely find an ice climbing adventure in every province and territory in Canada!

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