Ice climbing is a recreational activity whereby the climber attempts to ascend certain ice formations such as frozen waterfalls. While ice climbing can be considered to be a somewhat broad category, the only true form is vertical ice climbing.
A person about to attempt a vertical ice climb usually makes use of specialized ice climbing equipment – namely crampons and ice axes (also known as ice tools). The climber usually starts by kicking their legs to get the front points of the crampons to stick into the ice and provide a safe grip. Thereafter, they swing their axes into the ice overhead and slowly begin the climb, one foot and one arm at a time. Ice is surprisingly strong and a climber only usually has to get about a centimeter of their axe embedded to be able to pull themselves up on it. As with rock climbing the person in the lead will have to install a climbing system for everyone’s safety. In this case, it takes the form of ice screws which range from 18 to 23 centimeters long.
Other forms of ice climbing are normally classified as winter mountaineering. On less steep inclines the climber can employ anything from a good hiking boot to an ice axe and crampons. If you would like to try your hand at this exciting sport, it would obviously be wisest to employ the services of a qualified instructor. However you may be able to get a taste for the sport at an indoor ice climbing facility. Indoor ice climbing is also a great way to test new ice climbing gear.