Ice Tools: Choosing The Best Ice Climbing Tools

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Table of Contents

The thrill of ice climbing is unmatchable. Feeling the high while climbing on the big icy rocks is both dangerous and freeing. But the level of danger comes down way down when you know the techniques and have the right tools.

Choosing the wrong ice tools can be dangerous and even life-threatening, even when you have years of experience climbing the glacier. Don’t worry, we are going to help you choose the right set of tools for your next adventure.

Now, before we discover the best way to choose the tools, let’s see which ones you are going to need…

Ice Climbing Tool Checklist: 

  • Climbing harness
  • Insulated boots
  • Climbing helmet
  • Ice axes
  • Crampons to fit your boots
  • Ice screws
  • Rope
  • Climbing gloves
  • Quickdraws

Climbing Harness

  1. When you are choosing a climbing harness, the first thing you need to do is make sure it fits you well. The “rise” (the space between the leg loops and waist belt) of a well-fitting harness should be comfortable and sit snugly over your hipbones. A properly fitted harness cannot be lowered over your hipbones. The leg loops should be snug but not too tight, whether they are fixed or adjustable. The upper thigh and the leg loop should barely fit one hand in each. There shouldn’t be any hot patches or pressure points near the waist or legs.
  2. Then check out the harness loops style. You can choose between adjustable and fixed loops. The adjustable one has a buckle and webbing to fit big leg sizes. And the fixed one has an elastic that might expand a little but doesn’t give much room.

Insulated Boots

  1. For boots too, you need to check out the fitting. Make sure that the boots don’t slip off or your toes aren’t curled inside them. Otherwise, the climb would be an uncomfortable experience for you.
  2. Make sure that the boots are lightweight, so it doesn’t weigh you down.
  3. And the last thing you need to check is whether it provides proper warmth. The weather must be at or near 0 degrees Celsius for mixed climbing like climbing the glacier or waterfall ice (32 Fahrenheit). It can get really chilly on your feet if you’re outside all day in these conditions, especially if you spend a lot of it standing around and belaying. Hence, make sure you feet are all snug and comfortable inside.

Climbing Helmet

  1. Look for a shelled-foam model with little ventilation area since you’ll be exposed to a lot of debris falling. You don’t need a lot of cooling, and you want lots of openings so that you can let in any possible rain.
  2. For climbing, pick a colorful helmet as well. There is always a chance of experiencing whiteout conditions, therefore you want to be visible to your teammates.

Ice Axes

  1. An ice pick axe with a recessed grip will, to put it simply, turn at your pointer finger as you swing it. A tool’s pivot point when swung pivots at your pinkie finger if the handle is not recessed. You should try to locate a store that offers ice tools so that you can try some out and decide which handle feels more comfortable to you.
  2. Some ice tools have straightforward rubberized grips, while others have ergonomic grips on the lower and upper handles with movable finger rests. A few even have grip tape above the handle to help users grip the ice tool more tightly and get greater leverage. Before making a choice, test the grip and handle that work best for you in person and for mixed routes.
  3. All too frequently, even though it becomes less frequent with time, we witness people using ice axes that are too long for them. Ice climbing and dry tooling axes that are too long (in relation to a person’s height) are problematic, while being a touch on the short side is rarely, if ever, a major issue. In terrain with a slope of 25 to 40 degrees, most climbers SHOULD strive for the spike to touch the ground. This will boost stability. Look into Black Diamond ice axe for getting all these features.

Crampons to Fit Your Boots

  1. The number of points highlighted also reveals the purpose of a crampon. There are two basic arrangements: 10-point and 12-point. For beginner mountaineering routes and snow climbs, such as the Lion Head Winter Route, 10-points are perfect. While 12-points are better suited for challenging ice climbs and complex climbing routes like Shoestring Gully.
  2. Most crampons are made up of two parts—the front and heel pieces—that are joined together by a central bar. Usually, the central bars feature a series of holes for adjusting the crampons. Additionally, the pair may be customized to fit your particular boot and accommodates a wide range of foot sizes. However, keep in mind that you might need to buy a longer center bar from the manufacturer if you have very large feet.
  3. Steel and aluminum are the two main materials used to make crampons. When compared to aluminum, steel provides greater durability and corrosion resistance. This makes these crampons perfect for alpine climbs, mixed climbs, and difficult ice. But the tradeoff of steel’s strength is that it weighs more than aluminum crampons. Aluminum crampons are excellent for snow climbing, ski mountaineering, and glacier trekking due to their reduced weight.

Ice Screws

  1. An ice screw must be placed and handled with one hand while wearing gloves. All contemporary ice screws have been painstakingly designed with teeth and threads that can penetrate solid ice. A handle or knob may extend from the hanger of some ice screws. Once the initial few threads are engaged in the ice, this enables the climber to turn a screw in more rapidly and easily.
  2. The lengths of ICE SCREWS range from 10 to 22 cm. In thinner ice, the 10–13 cm ice screws can be used without hitting the rock underneath. Because of this, most climbers will have at least a few shorter screws with them. A climber may decide to carry more 10–13 cm screws early in the season when the ice is thinner or if a specific climb consists largely of thin ice.


  1. When you look at a rope, you can see this lovely, vibrant face material. The sheath’s primary job is to safeguard the core. The more protection the sheath offers, the more it will shield, extending the rope’s total durability. A sheath’s primary function is to protect, but it also offers a tiny amount of strength.
  2. The amount of force that a rope can withstand before breaking is expressed in kilonewtons, which are calculated using mass, length, and speed. In addition to breaking strength, dynamic ropes have a variety of other intricate data.
  3. The diameter of basic climbing ropes ranges from 8.0mm to 10.5mm. For top-roping, large-diameter ropes are a fantastic option because they are hefty but incredibly robust. The alpine, ice and hard sport on sights are best suited for thinner ropes because they are light and have low impact forces.
  4. Ropes are available in various lengths, ranging from 30 meters to 80 meters. Typically, climbing ropes are 60 to 70 meters long.
  5. The individual strands that make up a rope’s core are grouped into plys. The core is then formed by bundling the plys together. The majority of your rope’s strength and shock absorption will come from the core. All the top brands offer such features.

Climbing Gloves

  1. The ability to maintain control of your tool while climbing is one of the most important qualities of a pair of mountaineering gloves. You run the danger of getting hurt if the gloves aren’t flexible enough.
  2. Being able to provide warmth is one of the key characteristics of gloves. The hands will definitely feel chilly while working in such sweltering conditions, and they are among the first body parts to experience hypothermia.
  3. The majority of gloves for ice climbing are weather-resistant, although not all of them are waterproof and windproof. Windproof and waterproof gloves are advised for ice climbing because you will almost certainly be exposed to inclement weather; however, if you ascend on ice in more mild weather.


  1. The place and length of the ascent will affect how many rapid drawings you require. Make sure you have bough enough quantity for the climb.
  2. The length of the sling, sometimes known as the dogbone, is the second consideration most climbers make when selecting quickdraws. Longer slings have a lower seam travel but also weigh more and are bulkier. When cutting, too little of an opening could trap the finger between the gate and the carabiner, and too much of a clearing might prevent the carabiner from clipping. A sufficient amount makes it easier to cut through the carabiner. Check back to see what’s available in your preferred climbing shop.
  3. This holds true for the door’s breadth as well as the size and shape of the carabiner’s base beneath the door. In actuality, the clearance decreases as carabiner size increases.

Additional Consideration When Shopping For Ice Climbing Tools

1. Consider the terrain. If you’ll be climbing in a heavily wooded area, you’ll need a different set of tools than if you’ll be climbing in an open area.

2. Consider your experience level. If you’re a beginner, you’ll need different ice tools than an experienced climber.

3. The most important factor while choosing your ice-climbing tools is the terrain you are going to climb. If you are a beginner, we would recommend that you choose an area that is not too heavily wooded. This will help you focus on your techniques and also give you a clear view of the surrounding area, in case you need help.

4. Another factor to consider while choosing your ice-climbing tools is your budget. Ice climbing tools can be expensive, but there are some affordable options available. We would recommend that you invest in a good pair of ice axes and crampons. These are the two most important tools you will need while climbing and they will last you for many years to come.

5. Finally, always make sure that you have the right safety gear before embarking on your ice-climbing adventure. This includes things like a helmet, ropes, and carabiners. Keep in mind that ice climbing is a dangerous sport and should not be taken lightly. Make sure you are prepared for anything before heading out.

We hope these tips help you choose the best ice-climbing tools for your next adventure. Ice climbing is an incredible experience that everyone should try at least once in their life. Just make sure you are prepared and have the right tools before heading out. Happy climbing!


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