Ice climbing can be a safe activity as long as the proper safety precautions are met. Despite this, regardless of how careful climbers are, there are no guarantees that everything will go smoothly. Even with the correct gear, you can’t account for the external environment. Chunks of ice known can break off of ice walls, avalanches can occur, crevasses can also pop out of nowhere which climbers have to be aware of. Let’s not forget the icy climate which can also be a dangerous factor.
The importance of being prepared cannot be stressed enough. Here are some top tips for your next ice climb.
1. Equipment – Aside from accounting for the external environment and its risks, you must prepare your body for the climb, and that comes from using the correct equipment. Wearing a number of layers, bringing extra gloves and using dry ropes are all important. Helmets should also be worn at all times in case of head injuries. In terms of footwear, ice climbers have the option of using running, fixed or boot belays during their climbs. The choice is yours.
2. Prepare for the worst – With avalanches, falling rocks, falling ice and crevasses being a constant threat to ice climbers, it's important to keep first aid kits in your gear. All ice climbers should know how to apply a tourniquet and make a splint, whilst having the necessary skills to recognise and treat frostnip and frostbite.
3. Invest in technology - There is plenty of technology out there that can be helpful to ice climbers. We find handheld GPS devices to be effective for groups of climbers that are heading into the deep wilderness. Avalanche beacons are also useful. These allow climbers to signal for help, meaning rescue teams can locate them in a worst case scenario.
Don’t let this put off, Ice Climbing is a safe activity. Just make sure you take the necessary precautions and you’ll be fine!