Ice Climbing Archives – Alpine Dragons

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!

Ice climbing in Valdres – Beitostølen / Kalvedalen

By | Ice axes, Ice axes, Ice axes, Ice climbing in Valdres, Mountaineering Equipment, Petzl, Uncategorized | No Comments

Date: 04.12.2018

Winter is a special time, it’s always changing. Today it was changing by the minute.

On a recon tour to Kalvedalen, which is found off Beito (Down from Beitostølen). A semi-hidden valley that contains a few steep ice falls.

My companion today: Tinde our Alaskan malamute. In winter she is the master, the way she holds herself in winter is just to watch and learn. Following the small river into hidden valley she moves warily over the frozen stream, aware of the water below. She is such at peace with herself in this environment, right there in nature. Its a reminder to myself how often I am not present to the tour, and often inside my own head. Thinking away and not being present. She walks, her body language changes, suddenly she moves to one side, sniffs the snow. I continue, and suddenly! I’m through the snow and ice into the stream below. Luckily today I had on my wellies ? Tinde never goes through.

Ice Climbing in Valdres – Trillefossen

By | DMM, Ice axes, Ice axes, Ice axes, Ice axes, Ice climbing in Valdres, Mountaineering skills, Petzl, Winter | No Comments

Date: 01.12.2018

The joys of winter ? After a cold spell I suddenly remembered a fall very close to home. Martin and I set off full of hope, however at the parking place I could see it had fallen down ?. On a recon tour two days before it had looked good. We walked in anyway and climbed a short pitch of good ice to the left. Fun in a early season, first winter route, haven’t done this in awhile sort of scary, this is steeper that expected way. It would seem becoming a dad hasn’t miraculously made me into a super dad climber. Back to the gym ?

Nice walk in the forest. Very special. Tinde enjoyed herself. Went quite puppy crazy when we abbed backdown to her.

I’ll be back…. as the terminator would say… for the main event.


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