Ice climbing

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**1. Ice Climbing Overview:**
– Ice climbing involves using ice tools and crampons to ascend frozen water ice or snow fields.
Climbing can be done as free climbing or in pairs with lead climber inserting climbing protection.
– Protective equipment used in ice climbing mainly consists of specialized steel ice screws.
– Ice climbing can be done as free solo climbing, top roping, mixed climbing, or dry-tooling.

**2. Ice Climbing Routes:**
– Types of routes include frozen waterfalls, alpine couloirs, and hanging icicles.
– Routes rarely go beyond sheer vertical due to the nature of ice.
– Standard ice climbing grades peak at WI6-7, while extreme mixed climbing routes go beyond M8-grade.
– Helmcken Falls in Canada offers overhanging ice routes graded up to WI13.

**3. History and Evolution:**
– Ice climbing was part of alpine climbing skills until the 1960s.
– Yvon Chouinard and Hamish MacInnes revolutionized ice climbing with new ice axes in the 1960s-1970s.
– Interest in climbing frozen waterfalls grew in North American Rockies and European Alps.
– By the 1980s, ice climbing evolved into a technical art form.
– Mixed climbing drove development in ice climbing, leading to modern mixed climbing.

**4. Competition and Regulation:**
– UIAA has regulated competition ice climbing since 2002.
– Competition formats include lead climbing on artificial bolted walls and speed climbing on real ice walls.
– Helmcken Falls in Canada offers unique characteristics for creating severely overhanging bolted ice climbing routes.
– Ice climbers at Helmcken Falls have established routes graded up to WI13, possibly the hardest in the world.

**5. Equipment and Grading:**
– Ice climbing requires ice axes or modern ice tools.
– Crampons used in ice climbing can be mono-point or dual-point.
– Ice climbers use rigid mountaineering boots or fruit boots.
– Ice screws are essential for protection in lead ice climbing.
– Ice climbing uses a WI grading system for water ice, with grades ranging from WI1 to WI7, reflecting the difficulty.

Ice climbing (Wikipedia)

Ice climbing is a climbing discipline that involves ascending routes consisting of frozen water. To ascend the route, the ice climber uses specialist equipment, particularly double ice axes (or the more modern ice tools) and rigid crampons. To protect the route, the ice climber uses steel ice screws that require skill to employ safely and rely on the ice holding firm in any fall. Ice climbing routes can vary significantly by type, and include seasonally frozen waterfalls, high permanently frozen alpine couloirs, and large hanging icicles (or ice-daggers).

From the 1970s, ice climbing developed as a standalone skill from alpine climbing (where ice climbing skills are used on ice and snow). Ice climbing grades peak at WI6 to WI7 as ice tends to hang vertically at its most severe. WI7 is very rare and usually attributed to long routes of sheer vertical ice with serious risk issues (i.e. unstable ice, little protection, and a risk of death). Mixed climbing has pushed the technical difficulty of ice climbing routes by crossing bare rock overhangs and roofs (using ice tools on bare rock is called dry-tooling).

Since 2002, the UIAA have regulated competition ice climbing, which is offered in a lead climbing format on an artificial bolted wall that employs dry-tooling techniques (e.g. stein pulls and figure-four moves), and in a speed climbing format that uses a standardized wall of real ice. Since 2010, ice climbers at Helmcken Falls in Canada have been able to use the unique characteristics of the waterfall to create new severely overhanging bolted ice climbing routes, that are graded up to WI13, and are possibly the hardest ice climbs in the world.

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