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Norway

Ice climbing

Ice Climbing Course – What to expect

By | DMM, Ice axes, Ice axes, Ice climbing, Ice climbing courses, Ice climbing in Rjukan, Ice climbing in Valdres, Ice climbing in Valdres, Norway, Winter | No Comments

Ice-climbing in its purest form is a wonderful experience requiring a good balance of both mental and physical mastery. Unlike other aspects of climbing, ice climbing has a rather unique movement and if mastered will make the entire experience much more enjoyable.

A progression course run by Alpine Dragons starts with a focus on a solid movement foundation. We try to break down the movement into bite size pieces and each day we build upon this to form an entire efficient body movement.

Ice climbing

Getting the correct body position

There are fundamental stages:

1) Looking: We do nothing but look. In this, we are looking for the next axe or foot placement. We are not climbing or placing ice-crews we are just looking nothing else. Simple just looking.
2) Placing the axes: In this place, the axes, with a focus on efficient placement.
3) Looking: Looking to place the feet
4) Placing the feet: Looking for the sweat spots and placing the crampons efficiently.
5) Standing up: Using the legs to push our selves up.
6) Resting: Not climbing or swinging the axes, just resting.

We then start the process again: Looking, Placing axes, Looking, placing the feet. Moving up. and finally resting.

Day 1: Normally is spent looking at body position, placing of axes and feet. We spend a lot of time focused on getting the movement as described above correct. Some people find this easy while others have challenges. There are many components to work with and to get them all running in unison can be challenging. We take our time and work through it.

One of the biggest challenges, especially for climbers that have some experience is to change their perception of what is ice climbing as they have a tendency to use inefficient methods to climb.

Ice climbing

Climbing without axes helps focus our attention on body position and footwork.

During the day to try to focus on different aspects of the movement we will try to climb with one axe only. This focuses our attention on footwork and body position. Eventually, we will try climbing with no axes, using features on the ice to aid our ascent. Lastly, we try climbing up and down the ice. All these focuses are to aid our understanding of iceclimbing movement. Many people find this aspect of the course fun!

Keywords for day one are: “be kind to yourself”. Many people come with perceptions of what ice climbing is and find on day one many of these are not quite what they thought. They also find it more challenging than they expected. Be kind to yourself, with time things get easier.

Day 2: We start the day by warming up and then climbing with the instructor giving individual mentoring to each person.

We look at the progression in the form of movement. Looking at when we climb with a strict pragmatic form and when to shift to a more flowing dynamic form.

By the end of the course, you will have a good solid foundation in movement on steep ice. It is not uncommon for participants to struggle a bit on the first day and then by the end of the second-day master the techniques.

I have personally seen complete beginners struggle on day one to be able to climb vertical ice on day two. Even with a smile!

Course in focus: Winter Mountaineering Course – Foundation (6,5 days)

By | Avalanche awareness, crampons, Ice climbing, Ice climbing in Valdres, Mountaineering skills, Norway, Winter, Winter mountaineering course | No Comments

Adventures in winter are always special.  There is something very pure and majestic about winter time in Norway, with the frozen landscape revealing itself as a still and harsh beauty.

To travel through this frozen landscape is always a changing experience; it is unique, each year the snow formations are different, week by week, day by day and often in a single hour everything can change.

This 6,5 days course is a foundation course and perfect for people with some summer mountaineering experience who wish to venture into the snowy Norwegian landscape.

Accommodation is provided at Landsrud Cottage. Food is prepared together with the cost and cleaning shared. Transport is provided during the course.  Travel to the Norway and from the airport to the course location is not provided.

Day 1: Evening meeting at 18

Accommodation at Landsrud cottage.

  • Presentation of instructor and participants.
  • Discussion on expectations / summary of the week to come.
  • Equipment check

Day 2:  Short tour day, preparation, avalanche awareness and buddy rescue

The day’s primary goal is to get to know each other, check what equipment works and what doesn’t work, planning and how to avoid getting caught in an avalanche.

This day will cover:

  • Planning;  Weather, avalanche bulletins, understanding terrain and its consequences, what to pack, what to wear and what to eat and drink. Discussion on the “human factor” and how it steers the individual and the group”
  • Usage of skis or snowshoes while travelling
  • Avalanche rescue; How to use the equipment (transceivers, snow probes and shovels), how to organise an effective rescue as a single person and as part of a team
  • Travelling in avalanche terrain:  Identification of avalanche terrain (avalanche traps, potentially dangerous slopes, group travel discipline (when going up and when going down)
  • Snow knowledge: Getting a sense of snow, identification of potentially dangerous snow formations, crystals and layers and how humans can trigger avalanches. Learning snow test to quantify potential avalanche risk.

Evening: discussion on the day and planning for the next.

 

Day 3: Climbing day: Learning how to climb in winter

The primary goal of this day is to get an appreciation of climbing in winter; how to use crampons on snow, ice and mixed terrain and the safe usage of ropes in ascent and descent.

  • How to use crampons and axes:  how to use the equipment on snow, ice and mixed terrain
  • How to use a rope in ascent:  Knots, setting up belays in snow or ice, setting up top ropes belays in different settings and principles of multi-pitch climbing
  • How to use a rope in descent: Abseiling on snow and ice. Setting up descent belays, ice threads and snow abseils
  • Climbing: Ice climbing techniques, with and without axes

Evening: discussion on the day and planning for the next.

 

Day 4: Tour day: Starting with planning and checking weather, avalanche risk and terrain

The day’s primary goal is to put what we learnt on the previous days into action with a focus on navigation, mountaineering / easy climbing over several rope lengths and staying safe.

  • How to navigate: Getting lost and re-finding yourself.  Usage of map, compass and GPS
  • Continue with the identification of the avalanche risk: identification of different crystals and layers in the snow profile, identification of avalanche terrain and its consequence.

Evening: discussion on the day and planning for the next.

 

Day 5: Getting to know snow/avalanche and rescue

The primary focus of this day is to gain more knowledge about snow conditions and avalanche awareness with a focus on the human factor and your role in the group.

  • Short tour with focus on avalanche evaluation; snow profiles and assessing risk
  • Emergency snow shelters; how to build quick and fast.
  • Buddy rescue: If everything goes crazy and you get taken by an avalanche.

Evening: discussion on the day and planning for the next.

 

Day 6: Mountaineering day

This day is about putting what you have learned during the week into action.  By this time the group will be taking more responsibility and making more decisions in planning the tour, evaluating avalanche risk and deciding which route to take.

The group will be presented with several mountaineering objectives and they will decide, plan and execute the trip.

The instructors will only step in if they feel the group has made a hazardous decision.

 

Day 7:  Open day

Participants can decide on a days ice climbing or more snow evaluation (digging in the snow)

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What course(s) are you interested in?

Avalanche courseMountaineeringAlpine skillsMountain mentoringIce climbingOther

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