Winter Climbing Part I – Getting started

 

Winter Climbing Part I – Getting started

 

Winter climbing has become a great love of mine over the years and my introduction to it was fairly straightforward. I started out with rock climbing over ten years ago and then gained scrambling and winter hill walking skills – all really useful foundational skills for getting ready for the vertical winter world. I haven’t looked back since!

 

Winter climbing is the logical progression from these essential skills so it is important to get to grips with things like navigation, winter walking and movement skills (e.g. using an ice axe and crampons), and snow/rock anchor building, to name just a few.  

 

So here are a few tips as you get started on your journey into the wild and wonderful world of winter climbing:

 

  • Wherever possible climb with more experienced and stronger climbers! This served me very well over my first two winter seasons climbing, and allowed me to move from being a grade III climber to a grade V ice and VI mixed climber fairly quickly. It allows you to get the much needed mileage in on routes, but in a safe way and you can pick up little hard won tricks from those more experienced.

 

  • Try to get a good block of time to get some momentum. Two to three weeks will allow you to ease into the season as well as build up your confidence before going for that big objective you are aiming for. During my first winter climbing season, my friend Joel and I went from Curved Ridge II/III, to Aonach Eagach II/III to finally tackling Tower Ridge IV,3 as a finish to the season. Try to get in a week to two weeks winter climbing if you can!

 

  • Make sure you have a very good level of aerobic fitness and general strength. This is key as it will allow you get out for as many days as you can during your block of time with minimum rest and recovery days! And yes, do consider taking a rest day now and then especially when the avalanche risk is high. For more on general fitness see…

 

Hopefully The Mountain People’s Scottish Winter trip this year will give many of you the opportunity to progress as winter walkers, mountaineers and climbers and gain new skills and experience for the years ahead!

 

Coming up in Winter Climbing Part II: how to train for winter climbing.

Categories: Blog, Ice Climbing, James, Training, Winter
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