Training for Ice & Mixed Climbing - Hard Core

This post is part of a series on Training For Ice Climbing and Mixed Climbing. Click below for previous posts:

Build a Solid Foundation
Basic Core

NOTE: These workouts are intended for the fitness-minded climber.  It’s up to you to manage your time and expectations.  You may not initially be able to achieve the workout as described.  Just working towards that goal will do wonders to get you ready for ice season.

0 Training for Ice Mixed Climbing Figure 4.jpg

You’ve been doing:
Foundation and Fortification - 3x / week
Basic Core - 3x / week

Right, now let’s get serious. We’re going to really work the core and turn up the heat.

Remember these workouts are in addition to your foundational exercises.  You’re starting with your foundation workout, climbing a lot, and working your core. You will replace the Basic CORE with the Hard CORE workouts below, 2x a week.

Hard Core Workout 2x / Week

Planks / Side Planks

The Plank is one of the best exercises for core conditioning because it also works your glutes and hamstrings, supports proper posture, and improves balance.

- Hold your elbows directly under your shoulders and place your wrists in line with your elbows.
- Push your body up into your upper back and hold your chin close to your neck (like you’re holding an egg between your chin and your throat).
- In this position, brace your abdominals—contract them like expecting a punch in your stomach, squeeze your glute and thigh muscles simultaneously. Continue to breathe normally.
- Hold a plank at least 20 to 30 seconds. (If you’re doing it right, you won’t need  to hold it for longer than 30 sec.)
- Rest for 1 min and repeat for 3-5x

There are many variations. Try planks with a wide stance, do side planks holding each leg off the ground, hold your arm at your side or extended, twist your hips left and right. For bonus points, use a Bosu Ball (ball side down).

Mistakes to avoid:
X - Allowing your hips, head, or shoulders to drop
X - Placing your hands too close together, which creates internal rotation and instability at your shoulder joint
X - Holding your breath
X - Trying to hold the position too long, It is better to maintain proper form for a shorter period of time than to hold improper form for longer.

Basic Plank

Basic Plank

Side Plank, Side Plank with one leg raised

Side Plank, Side Plank with one leg raised

Modified Side Plank

Modified Side Plank

Basic Plank with one leg raised

Basic Plank with one leg raised

Planks with Hip Twists

Planks with Hip Twists

Mountain Climbers / Suspended Mountain Climbers

These are an excellent challenge for the core muscle group. MC’’s and SMC’s work everything from your shoulders to your knees. These can be  a great cardio exercise.  If you have access to a TRX setup we highly recommend using it to perform a suspended variation.  If you don’t, performing this from a push-up position is also excellent.

- Begin in a pushup position.
- Bring one leg into your chest, then switch legs. 
- Keep the weight on the straight leg and hold the plank position. 
- Repeat for 10-12x.

3 Training for Ice Mixed Climbing Mountain Climbers-01.jpg

Standing Leg Wood Chop w/Medicine Ball

The wood chop works the abs but targets the obliques.  Unlike static planks, the wood chop targets your middle while your middle is in motion, making this move a serious functional fitness maneuver. These can be done in a standing position, or for a better workout, while standing on one leg. Use a 5-10 lbs. medicine ball. If you don’t have a medicine ball, use bag of rice / large soup can / pack stuffed with a rope.

- Stand on right leg, (left leg bent, thigh parallel to the ground).
- Hold medicine ball up with both hands to the right side.
- Quickly and smoothly bring the ball down to the left side.
- Keep torso upright, do not bend your torso, keep standing leg slightly bent and restore to the starting position.
- Repeat 6 -12x.  Repeat with the other side.

4 Training for Ice Mixed Climbing Wood Chop.jpg

Modified Front Lever

This is the first seriously challenging exercise in our program and also one that starts to put together some of the work we’re doing like grip and core strength. These are hard. Just getting into the position is a challenge, which is exactly what we want.  This move is a direct correlation to moves we may do when mixed climbing. Refer to pics.

- Hang straight.
- Bring one leg into your chest
- Bring your back and the opposite leg (keep it straight) to a parallel position with the ground. - - Hold the position for up to 20 sec.
- Repeat 6-12x.

5 Training for Ice Mixed Climbing Front Lever.jpg

For an excellent series of serious core exercises and all kinds of training for climbers in general, look no further than Eric Hörst’s Training For Climbing.  In particular this, Hörst video from Epic TV demonstrates several workouts that are of particular interest to ice and mixed climbers: 

Training for Ice & Mixed Climbing - Basic Core

This post is part of a series on Training For Ice Climbing and Mixed Climbing. Click below for previous posts.

Build a Solid Foundation

NOTE: These workouts are intended for the fitness-minded climber.  It’s up to you to manage your time and expectations.  You may not initially be able to achieve the workout as described.  Just working towards that goal will do wonders to get you ready for ice season.

Photo: Ramon Marin

Photo: Ramon Marin

You’ve been doing:
Foundation and Fortification - 3x / week

You swing into hard ice and it dinner-plates alarmingly.  Leveraging off the current placement, you work out the pick, clear out the shattered ice, swing again. Good stick.  Body out from the ice, look down at your feet, lift a foot onto the next blob and kick to set your front points, step up, thrust hips into the ice, reach up and swing your other tool…

Un-metaphorically, all the force we need to drive in our picks and front points comes from deep inside us.  Every single move we do in ice climbing relies on one thing, the Core.

Your core is a complex series of muscles, extending far beyond your abs, including everything besides your arms and legs. Your core muscle group is incorporated in almost every movement in climbing. It is imperative to strengthen and stabilize core muscles to be able to transfer energy into our swings, our kicks, and into upward movement.

Basic CORE Workout 3x Week (up to 4x a week)

For all of these exercises do 6-12 per set, or till you get a good burn. If you are not getting a good burn, use a weights to challenge your core.


These are crunches, not sit-ups. When we crunch, we take the emphasis off of your abdomen and onto our hip flexors.  Focus on either bringing your ribs down to your belly button, or pushing the small of your back into the floor, whichever works for you. It will raise your chest a few inches off of the ground. This little motion is all you need to target your abs.

There are many variations of crunches.  We like doing crunches with legs up, twists (challenges obliques), and the bicycle.

Things to watch out for:
You crunch too high - Targets the wrong muscles.
You use momentum - Negates the point of the workout and puts undo stress on joints.
You yank your neck - Keep your chin off your chest, try crossing your arms over your chest or placing your fingertips around your ears.
You relax on the way down - You’re skipping half the workout, and it’ll take twice as long.  Squeeze abs on the way up, AND the way down.
You hold your breath - This is a bad habit many climbers make.  When breathing stops, your body doesn’t know what to do.  Are you drowning? Are you stuck on the toilet?  Make sure to breath smoothly and constantly to focus on the effort.  Develop this habit, use it when climbing and it will help keep your mind in check too (subject of a future post).

Legs Up Crunches 3 x 6-12 reps

Legs Up Crunches 3 x 6-12 reps

Bicycle Crunches 3 x 6-12 reps

Bicycle Crunches 3 x 6-12 reps

Twisted Crunches 3 x 6-12 reps

Twisted Crunches 3 x 6-12 reps

Reverse Crunches

The reverse crunch is a basic core strengthening exercise that improves stability throughout the lower back, hips, and spine. They help you protect your back and create a greater range of motion, which helps place more tension on your abdominal muscle, precisely what’s needed for safe, stable ice climbing technique.

-Lie on the ground in a traditional crunch position, your toes to the sky and hands underneath your head or on the floor beside your torso.
-Press your lower back into the floor and pull in your belly button to lift your butt off the floor.
-Using your core, pull your hips up so that your tailbone raises off of the ground.  For slight bonus lift your shoulder blades off of the floor.
-Slowly lower hips and return to the starting position.
-Make sure not to use swinging momentum from your legs to power your reps. Focus on squeezing those abs!

Reverse Crunches 3 x 6-12 reps

Reverse Crunches 3 x 6-12 reps

Contralateral Limb Raises aka Superman 3 x 15

These target your back, particularly the muscles that help stabilize your spine.

- Lie on your stomach with arms outstretched.
- Slowly lift one arm a few inches off the floor, keeping it straight without rotating your shoulders.
- Simultaneously lift the leg of your opposite side.
- Hold the position for 5 seconds, then lower your arm and leg back down.

Contralateral Limb Raises 3 x 6-12 reps

Contralateral Limb Raises 3 x 6-12 reps

Single Leg Dead Lift

The Single Leg Dead Lift is a great exercise as it incorporates active hip extension and flexion on a single-leg stance, just like running, climbing up stairs, and particularly important to us ice climbers, kicking. Doing deadlifts also increases strength, balance, and flexibility. If you’re doing them right, more than likely you’ll feel a stretch in your hamstrings.  Watch out that you do not bend your spine on the way down, but rather take the stretch in your hamstrings. The idea is to keep your back flat and pivot from the hips.

- Start standing position.
- Reach leg back, lift leg and hinge upper torso forward at same time. Move smoothly and in control.
- End with leg and torso parallel to the ground.  Make sure you hips are square to the ground too.
- Return to standing position.

Single Leg Dead Lift 3 x 6-12 reps

Single Leg Dead Lift 3 x 6-12 reps

If you’ve been climbing for a while and you have developed some core strength, SLDLs may be relatively easy. Increase the difficulty by holding a kettlebell or freeweight:

In our next post we really dive into difficult core exercises. Lay a strong foundation with the Basic CORE Workout now to be prepared for the challenges ahead.

9 (Sort of) Unscientific Reasons Why Ice Climbers are Better at Sex

Ice climbing. It’s cold and hard, windy and wet. It can be just miserable. But at the end of the day, coming home with that end-of-day rosy winter glow to a beer, a fire in the fireplace, and canoodling with your significant other can lend deeper meaning to "screw placements”.



Here are 9 mildly researched reasons climbers of the frozen

are better at bringing the heat.

-Wrestling with icicles in the cold increases muscle mass and chews up body fat. As a result ice climbers tend to be more content with their individual fitness making them be more attractive to themselves and others. Not only do ice climbers look and feel good about their bodies, they’re also better prepared for whatever their partners choose to do in the sack.

-Due to the steep nature of many ice climbs, Ice climbers tend to have strong cores, good for thrusting and balance during sex.

-From all the tool swinging, ice climbers tend to have strong triceps, enabling them to get good sticks in those on-top positions.


-Because high steps and steep approaches to climbs increase blood flow to the pelvic region (making orgasms more intense), they’re an incredible exercise for enhanced performance.

-After being wrapped up in hats, jackets, and multiple pairs of long underwear all day, ice climbers are quick to drop those layers to the floor, all of them, and plunge into any available hot tub / sauna / double-thick down comforter.

-Ice climbers work their core muscles with every kick and swing, toning their lower back and abdominals.  This work not only awakens these muscles, but also all the neural pathways that enhance sexual pleasure.

300x250 Take 2.png

-Women sometimes shy away from on-top positions during sex often because of the exertion involved. Women who slug their way up frozen waterfalls tend to have increased stamina.

-Many times while climbing ice, climbers have to stem between icicles. Stemming increases blood flow to muscles in the pelvis and groin, which means increased sensation and easier orgasms.

-The release of endorphins while ice climbing relieves mental tension and leaves us with the feeling of positive energy. Endorphins not only make ice climbers feel great, but prime the release of sex hormones such as testosterone, improving libido.

Training for Ice and Mixed Climbing - Fortification

This post is part of a series on Training For Ice Climbing and Mixed Climbing. Click below for previous posts:

Building a Solid Foundation

NOTE: These workouts are intended for the fitness-minded climber.  It’s up to you to manage your time and expectations.  You may not initially be able to achieve the workout as described.  Just working towards that goal will do wonders to get you ready for ice season.

Training for Ice Climbing Ben Carlson on BMF

You’ve been doing:
Foundation - 3x / week

Now that you’ve developed a workout habit that maintains a solid foundation (you’ve done approximately 6 Foundation workouts by now right?), let’s open it up.

Building on the Foundation Workout, the goal now is to add longer, less intense workouts with intervals of high intensity.

Fortification Workout 2x / week 30-40 mins

Training for ice climbing Intervals


Intervals (aka, High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT) are the single most effective way to increase power while building endurance. These are short, high intensity workouts followed by regular intensity workouts. High intensity means high intensity, as in, as hard as you can go.  Due to the extreme intensity, injury is easier.  Use this variation very wisely, While it can greatly improve your ability to go harder longer you MUST be careful to not over do it and cause injury. 

Intervals training basically goes like this: when running, biking, or swimming, go full on as hard as you can for 30 sec, then slow down to a regular pace for 1-2 min sec.  Use this tool 2x / week for 20-30 mins.

You can even do this when climbing.  Find a long easy route, outside or in the gym. Climb as fast as you can for 1 min, and then climb at a recovery pace for 1 min.  If you top out, lower off and immediately begin climbing again. Bask in the heat of your pumped forearms and burning lungs. Repeat for 8-10 mins.  Bonus if your gym has auto-belays, or if your auto-belay is named Jim.

Below, Marian is on her third interval on a route set for DRY ICE Tools.  Doesn’t get any more ice-specific than that.

Training for Ice Mixed Climbing Intervals.jpg

For a variation on the interval workout, look no further than the Cardio Pyramid.  It looks like this:

30 seconds sprint / 30 seconds recover
1 minute sprint / 1 minute recover
2 minutes sprint / 2 minutes recover
4 minutes sprint / 4 minutes recover
2 minutes sprint / 2 minutes recover
1 minute sprint / 1 minute recover
30 seconds sprint / 30 seconds recover

Replace ‘sprint’ with ‘all-out swim / bike / run / climb’ for interval workout du jour.  IF YOU CANNOT DO THIS, tailor the cardio pyramid to your maximum ability, maybe you start with an initial 5 sec sprint, then work up to and initial 10 second sprint, etc..  The point is to get moving.


All this training is useless without the flexibility to use it.  Yoga is excellent.  While we could take up an entire post with stretching for ice and mixed climbing, below are some stretches to keep you limber for that next high step.

Calf Stretch

When climbing ice, few muscles get as worked as hard as the calves. Taking care of them is not only an important part of being fit but also strong, supportive calves help keep your mind calm when your 80’ up on some chandelier-y grade 5.

Why is it important to stretch calf muscles?

The calf is comprised of two muscles the gastrocnemius and soleus which fuse at the Achilles tendon and when they contract, they flex the foot to allow you to plant on the balls of your feet and stand on your crampon’s front points. . As your foot lands when you walk, run, squat down to sit, or climb ice the calf muscles must stretch to allow your foot to flatten, your heel to come down to be level with your front points, and your shin to come forward. If your calf muscles are excessively tight you will constantly walk and stand on the balls of your feet.  This impairs your ability to move efficiently on ice or mixed terrain.

Also, excessively tight calf muscles are prone to tearing, increase your risk of Achilles tendon tears, and are weak. Stretching the calf muscles several days a week will improve range of motion, decrease risk of tearing, and help the calf muscles provide the support you need when climbing or placing a screw on steep ice.

Below Marian is using a simple downward dog pose to stretch her calves.

-Hold stretches for 30 seconds.
-For a deeper stretch bend the knees and ankles.

Calf Stretch

Calf Stretch

Tricep Stretch

The tricep is the extensor of the elbow. It allows us to straighten our forearms, or more importantly, swing our ice axes. Keeping your triceps limber allows a more efficient swing and easier pick placements.

-Place your hand on your upper back with the elbow bend towards the ceiling.
-Use your other hand to pull the elbow towards your head.
-Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds.

Tricep Stretch

Tricep Stretch

Forearm Stretch

Constant, repeated gripping of ice tools is tough on forearms.  When stretching forearms it’s important to stretch BOTH the flexor and extensor muscles. Most climbers skip the extensors at their own peril. Do not skip these 4 stretches. They are simple and you can do them anywhere. If you’ve been knocking out foundation workouts, they will feel great.


-Palm facing outward and the thumb pointing out from center.
-Using your other hand, pull your fingers back stretching forearm.
-Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.

-Palm facing outward and the thumb pointing in to center.
-Using your other hand, pull your fingers back stretching forearm.
-Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.

-Perform this stretch with both arms.


-Straighten your arm.  Make a palm-up fist.
-With your opposite hand pull fist inward to stretch along the back of forearm.
-Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.

-Release the stretch and rotate the fist into palm-down position.
-Using your other hand, pull your fingers back stretching forearm.
-Hold for 10 to 20 seconds.

-Perform this stretch with both arms.

Stretching for Ice Climbing Flexor Extensor.jpg

Glute Stretch

As climbers were tend to ignore our of lower body in favor of strong and limber fingers, arms, and back.  It’s safe to say that good footwork is crucial to getting up almost all ice climbs. Good range of motion through our hips is vital to unlocking the core strength we’ll be building in futures workouts. Stretching glutes is just one in a series of stretches that help us with hip mobility so we can have better footwork, or crampon-work if you will, on an ice or mixed climb.

-Sitting or laying on the floor, legs stretched out in front of you.
-Bend one knee, keeping the other extended.
-Drape your opposite arm across your bent knee and twist toward it until you feel a stretch in your glute and outer hip.
-Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch legs.

Glute Stretch

Glute Stretch

Training for Ice & Mixed Climbing - Build a Solid Foundation

NOTE: These workouts are intended for the fitness-minded climber.  It is up to you to manage your time and expectations.  You may not initially be able to achieve the workouts as described.  Just working towards that goal will do wonders to get you ready for ice season.


Who doesn’t want to climb more?  Who doesn’t want to climb harder?

This is the first in a series of 8 to-the-point, no B.S. posts coming from September through December to get you ready for ice season.  We’ll use photos and videos to show you the exercise and proper technique with ACE Certified Fitness Trainer and Ice Climber Marian DeWitt. These posts are not for beginners.  We’ll be assuming you know enough about the basics of climbing and working out.

Photo Jacob Vavricka

Photo Jacob Vavricka

Whether your goal is a 550’ stout icy directissima like Bridalveil Falls in Telluride or a bouldery mixed climb at Haffner Creek, this series is meant to get you stronger so you can climb harder, longer, and most importantly, SAFER. Because what’s better than climbing?: More climbing!


Choosing a goal will make training much easier.  So, what is your goal?  Aiming to tackle a big new climb this season?  Weekend warrior?  Just climb ice as much as you can? Write your goal down. Right now. Make it real. Not just on a computer, use an actual pen.  Set a photo of it as your desktop pic or smartphone background. Make it the focus of your climbing training.

Ice Climbing Training Goals.jpg

Whatever your goals are, you need to be strong and aerobically fit to be safe.  We’re going to get you there. Here’s how:

12 Weeks of Training

-Build a Solid Foundation

-Hard Core
-Harder Core

-Endurance - How Long Can you Last…?
-Special Techniques

-Head Games
-Taking it Outside

Each of these workouts is meant to build on the previous. This means that as workouts progress, you must continue doing the previous routines as part of your new workout. Continuity is important.  Neglecting part of the workouts will negate the benefits of the early posts and open you up to injury.

Ice Climbing Training Glacier Ice.jpg

Notes on Climbing Safety:
Ice climbing, like all other types of climbing, is extremely dangerous.  Always climb within your ability, after carefully judging the safety of the route. Failure for you to follow these conditions may result in injury or death. No one is responsible for your actions but you. Be an adult.  Take the risks very seriously.

Notes on Workout Safety:
-Take 5-10 minutes to warm up and cool down properly. Light running, biking, stretching.
-Start slowly and boost your activity level gradually.
-Training too hard or too often can cause overuse injuries like stress fractures, stiff or sore joints and muscles, and inflamed tendons and ligaments. Activities requiring repetitive wear and tear on certain parts of your body - such as climbing (shoulders, elbows, fingers) - are often the cause of overuse injuries. Mix different kinds of activities, get sufficient rest, stretch, and hydrate!
-Listen to your body. Hold off on exercise when you're sick or feeling very fatigued. Cut back if you cannot finish an exercise session, feel faint or fatigued during the day, or suffer persistent aches and pains in joints after exercising.
-If you stop exercising for a while, drop back to a lower level of exercise initially.
-Remember to work the counter muscles i.e. doing push-ups after a lot of pulling.
-For strength training, good form is essential. Never sacrifice good form by hurrying to finish reps or sets.
-Did we mention that you should hydrate?

A Note on Diet
Extensive diet recommendations are outside the scope of these posts.  But if you really want to see results, cut out the #1 offender: Alcohol.

K. Let’s get to it.

Build a Solid Foundation

It’s a cliche but it’s true: we have to learn to walk before we can run.  Our goal here is to build and maintain a solid foundation so you can focus future workouts on ice and mixed climbing specific exercises.  If any of this sounds sounds boring, make it fun by working out with a friend, listening to music, slacklining between sets, or whatever you must do to get and remain amped.

If you do nothing else, the regimen below should be your standard workout to get yourself ready for ice climbing. If your goal is just to climb a lot, this will prepare you.  If you can’t do all of these at first, that’s OK, work up to it and do the best you can.  You will see improvement quickly.

Remember to always stretch before and after working out.

Foundation Workout - 3x / week

3 x 10 Pull-Ups - two sets on tools, one on hands
3 x 15 Lock Offs
3 x 30 Push-Ups (Bonus if you do them on tools or a Bosu Ball)
3 x 15 Hanging Leg Raises on tools.

3-5min rests between exercises.

Aerobic work i.e. 30-40 mins running, biking, or swimming.  Get that heart rate UP!

3 x 30 Pull-Ups - two sets on tools, one on hands, 3 x 30 Lock Offs

3 x 30 Pull-Ups - two sets on tools, one on hands, 3 x 30 Lock Offs

3 x 15 Hanging Leg Raises on tools.

3 x 15 Hanging Leg Raises on tools.


Calf Raises 3 x 15

Calf Raises 3 x 15

Calf Raises
Few muscles get worked when ice climbing as much as calves.  Get them used to the abuse now and you’ll be ready for that extended screw placement.
Hanging onto a sturdy object for balance, stand on something to raise the front of your foot higher than your heels. Exhale and lift your body using your calves to get a full contraction through your foot. Contract the calves hard at the top and hold for a second. Inhale as you lower down. Repeat for 3 x 15.  For a better workout do this one leg at a time.

Grip Strength

10 mins of Dead Hangs.  Hang for as long as you can.  Rest 1 min, repeat.

10 mins of Dead Hangs.  Hang for as long as you can.  Rest 1 min, repeat.

Dead Hangs
When ice or mixed climbing, at some point you’ll be hanging solely from your tools. Being able to hold on for a long time greatly increases your chances of sending, or better yet, not falling while festooned with all manner of pointy ironmongery.  
The dead hang is a simple exercise and is a great way to develop the fundamental grip strength. It's important to learn to dead hang with good form. Maintain a shoulder width grip.  Shoulders are pulled down and back so that it doesn't feel like your arms are being pulled from the sockets. Hang for as long as you can.  Repeat and try to beat your longest time. Do this for 10 mins.

Shoulders / Back

15-20 mins of Rows

15-20 mins of Rows

The purpose of rows is to strengthen the muscles that draw the arms toward the body, or in our case, the body to the ice tools.
Ideally you have access to a low pulley row machine with a V-bar. The V-bar enables you to have a neutral grip where the palms of your hands face each other (like ice tools).  If you don’t there are a bazillion variations to the row that can be done with free weights, exercise bands, even a rock.
On the machine, Lean over as you keep the natural alignment of your back and grab the V-bar handles. With your arms extended pull back until your torso is at a 90-degree angle from your legs. Your back should be slightly arched and your chest should be sticking out. You should be feeling a nice stretch on your lats as you hold the bar in front of you. This is the starting position of the exercise. Keeping the torso stationary, pull the handles back towards your torso while keeping the arms close to it until you touch your abs. Breathe out as you pull in. At that point you should be squeezing your back muscles hard. Hold that contraction for a second and slowly go back to the original position while breathing in.
Row for 15-20 mins.

1-2 Hours Climbing in the Gym

Hey, if your gym is like ours it’s basically social hour most of the time. If it is, get in there anyway, get moving, have a good time with friends while helping to build your foundation.

2-3 Hours Climbing in the Gym

2-3 Hours Climbing in the Gym

This is the first post in a series of eight to get you ready and training for ice & mixed climbing. Stay tuned for the next post in the series coming Oct 2nd.

Does your climbing gym not allow sharp ice tools in their facility? 

Pick up a pair of gym safe Dry Ice Tools for training inside the climbing gym –  Here

Ice Climbing Festivals 2017 - 2018

Ice Climbing Festivals 2017 - 2018

Ice climbing continues to grow! And with it are several 'mark your calendars NOW' events that bring us climbers together for fun, friends, ice climbing, and usually lots of beer.  Check out the starred events to get your hands on DRY ICE Tools, ICICLES, and KRONOS!


Portland Alpine Festival November 14-18 2017 Portland OR

Bozeman Ice Festival December 6-10 2017 Bozeman, MT

Sandstone Ice Festival January 5-7 2018 Robinson Park Quarry, Sandstone, MN

Adirondack International Mountain Fest January 2018 Keene Valley, NY

*Ouray Ice Fest January 18-21, 2018 Ouray, CO

Smuggler's Notch Ice Bash January 19-21, 2018 Smugglers Notch, VT

Catskill Ice Festival January 26-29 2018 New Paltz, NY

Mt. Washington Valley Ice Festival February 2-4, 2018 North Conway, NH

Cody Ice Fest February 7-11, 2018 Cody, Wyoming

Lake City Ice Climbing Festival Feb  2018 Lake City Colorado

Duluth Ice & Mixed Fest February 9-11, 2018, Duluth, Minnesota

Michigan Ice Fest February 14-18, 2017 Munising, MI

Valdez Ice Fest February 2017 Valdez, Alaska  Get REALLY psyched with this:

Rock Spot IceFest Feb 2017 The Flume Gorge NH 

Southern Ontario Ice Fest February 24-26 Maynooth, Ontario, Canada 

*Furnace Industries will be there! Make sure to check out tjhe KRONOS, DRY ICE Tools and ICICLES. Follow our Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram feed for live tweets and onsite info.



KAILAS ICE CLIMBING FESTIVAL Dec 30-Jan 2  Sugunaing National Park Shuangquiao Valley, China

Remarkables Ice & Mixed Festival Aug 17-20 2017 Queenstown NZ


Portillo Ice Fest Aug 11-13 2017 Portillo, Chile

DRY ICE Holds by Atomik Climbing Holds

Atomik Climbing Holds recently developed a line of holds specifically for DRY ICE Tools, and they are spectacular!  Below is a brief review of the 40 holds they've developed, why they are awesome, and links to where to get them.

There are 5 sets in the proton-based series.

15 SUPER SMALL $47.96

These are by far the most technical holds in the line.  Climbers must deftly focus on body positioning and steady strap placement or, like any placement outdoors, the placement may blow of the hold.  Truly the realm of a technical master, these holds put the mixed climber's skills to the test.


ACH also cleverly designed in a unique feature to this line:  Many of the holds have side 'protons' that help to lock the strap of the DRY ICE Tool in place when loaded in a specific direction.

10 SUPER SMALL $15.26

Not really a variation of the proton line, these holds are easily some of the best holds for DRY ICE Tools on the market today.  This is because they are small, just-positive-enough micro horns that come in a pack of 10.  So with only 2 sets of these, you have a 60ft (18m) route.  At only $15.26 per set, these are such an incredible steal.


Increasing in size, these are holds can be forgiving on the new ice climber.  Like the 15 Super Small, some of the holds in this set of 5 have side protons that help lock in the strap for interesting and secure placements.  They average 3-5 in in diameter with about 2 in of positivity, making for easily loop-able placements.

For more of a challenge, use these holds on steeper terrain and use only the side protons.  By setting these holds on steep routes, you really get two sets of holds for the price of one:  One set for easier routes, and one for steep and technical climbing.


Just a small percentage larger than the 5 Medium Protons, this set shares many of the same features.  Set on vertical to off-vertical terrain, these are very simple to use with the DRY ICE Tools.  Set on steep terrain the Large Protons will test technical skills by using only a single proton.

5 XL PROTONS $75.00

As big as is reasonable to use with DRY ICE Tools, the XL Protons are mega-fun in a mega-size.  The single large proton is perfect for the strap on core-working super steep terrain.  Think overhanging roof lines, challenging DRY ICE boulder problems, underclings, as well as in opposition.

All of these holds can also be used for rock climbing, so precious real estate is not lost when setting routes for DRY ICE Tools.  Each set is also available in a huge selection of colors on the Atomik site.  You can even purchase the entire lot on one discounted package!

The Whole Shebang $222.72

The Whole Shebang $222.72




Suffering through a hot, humid, sticky New York summer, we like to escape to the ice with laps on DRY ICE Tools, and also some get-amped-for-winter films.

Hot Aches consistently produces excellent and award-laden climbing films.  From their early work in E11 to their latest installments, they are able to weave very beautiful pictures coupled with a compelling story, something lacking in many of today’s climbing films.

How close to the edge can you take it?  How do you reckon the route and the risk?  The film asks two simple but loaded questions.  However the film’s main mechanism is not an original idea.  It’s the main character, a Yorkshireman who once worked in the coal mines, quietly narrating over footage of him climbing.

Andy Cave, full of energy and zeal for life, shows us some of the best of Scottish winter climbing.  At around 34 min tho, shit gets real. The climbing... The story...  I’m not going to spoil it.  It’s just a fabulous piece of filmmaking and storytelling.

Intercut with literary moments and scotch barrels are Steck-style fall line assaults and excellent, hard earned camerawork to capture Cave and his partner Gary Kinsey climbing on Ben Nevis and other Scottish areas.

Worth a look for sure. Def worth the purchase (or rent).  Pour three fingers and enjoy.

Produced and directed by Paul Diffley.  42 min


The GriGri +

The Petzl GriGri +

The Petzl GriGri +

When new gear arrives on the market, some of us get excited, some of us are cautious, and some of us our downright skeptical.  If you fall into one of these categories, we did the review work for you and asked Matt Shove, an AMGA Rock Instructor, Asst. Alpine Guide, and SPI Provider to review the new GriGri +.  in 90 days, he put almost 70,000ft (that 's 21,000m') of varying diameter rope through the new device.  Here is his take on climbing's newest Gri-Grinnoavtion. -BC

I’ve been using an original GriGri since about 1995.  I used the 'old iron-sides' for a long time, then in 2010 I got a GriGri 2 (Retail $99.95 USD). The GriGri 2 worked wonders, was rated for skinny ropes, and still performs admirably.  I use my GriGri 2 about 250 days a year.  It’s a staple on my gear sling.  Frankly, I’m not sure what I’d do without it. 

The GriGri + used on a bolted anchor in Red Recks.

The GriGri + used on a bolted anchor in Red Recks.

I came into a GriGri + (Retail $149.95 USD) in late winter 2016-17 and I’ve used it almost daily since.  I’ve lugged it up an ice climb in NH, belayed in the gym with it, belayed outside on the crags at work.  I’ve even lugged it up Black Orpheus (IV 5.10) in Red Rocks in April.

The GriGri + used on a gear anchor in Red Rocks.

The GriGri + used on a gear anchor in Red Rocks.

Here’s what I think:

•    The lead belay mode works great.  I am impressed that it works so well. I’ve used the GriGri + on ropes ranging from 9.2 - 10.2mm and I have rarely had to override the lead belay function.
•    The Anti-Panic release lever works great.  Pull the lever too hard?  It locks. Simply reset and continue lowering.
•    The top rope function is just like a Gri Gri 2.  Simple, effective, and reliable.
•    Works just like the Gri Gri and Gri Gri 2 when belaying directly off of the anchor.
•    Add the Petzl Frieno carabiner (Retail $49.95 USD) for the win.
•    Added durability.  The GriGri + has a steel plate on the swing plate to add durability.  
•    The GriGri + release lever requires a couple of extra inches of clearance when belaying directly off of the anchor due to the anti-panic lever.  

Do you need a GriGri + if you already have a GriGri 2?

No.  The GriGri 2 works great and is lighter and $50 cheaper.  Most owners are effective at operating the GriGri 2, and there is no need to switch. Of course, if you want one, you can't go wrong with this added tool in you kit.

A client belays Climbing Guide Matt Shove with a GriGri +

A client belays Climbing Guide Matt Shove with a GriGri +

If you are a climbing instructor working in a professional capacity, this could be a good tool to add to you quiver.  I plan to have my guests belay me with the GriGri + for additional security while I climb and while they lower me.  It provides me an added edge and I think this could add value with limited disadvantage.  

Duration of use: 90 days
Pitches Belayed approx. 500
Gym Pitches: 200

Matt Shove, AMGA Rock Instructor, Asst. Alpine Guide, SPI Provider

Time to Climb Fest is this Weekend!

FURNACE INDUSTRIES is very proud to present Time to Climb Fest on April 22 at the NJ Rock Gym.  Time To Climb Fest is a day event of Pro Climbers, Clinics, Workshops, Films, Gear Demos, Giveaways & More! Get your tickets here:

During the day – NJ Rock Gym

9:30am to 5:30pm
Climbing Clinics:

Climbing Techniques Clinic with Paul Robinson & Alex Kahn – 10:00am– Register
Beginner Training & Climbing Techniques with Nina Williams  -10:00am – Register
Advance Training & Climbing Techniques with Nina Williams – 1:00pm – Register
Dry Ice Tool Clinics  – FREE – Sponsored by Furnace Industries Training for Ice inside the Climbing Gym with Mike Burk – 10:00am & 1:00pm – Sign-up

Professional Development Workshops: – Free
Promote your Skills to Climb– By Luis Hernandez of IBM
Networking in the Digital Age – By Nicholas Hernandez of Time to Climb
more tba

Meet & Greet with Pro Climbers
3:30pm – 5:00pm @ NJ Rock Gym

A Night of Films & Talks

with Paul Robinson, Alex Kahn & Nina Williams

The Darress Theater – 615 Main St Boonton, NJ
Doors: 7:00pm
Featured Films & Talks:
Premiere of Uncharted Lines:

Premiere of Ronnie Dickson: The V10 Project
Sending Ambrosia a presentation by Nina Williams
Chasing Winter:


Get Tickets – HERE

Non-Profit Partner: Peak Potential –
A raffle of donated prizes will be held in the evening at the Darress theater to help raise money for Peak Potential!


Art in Ice Climbing

Ice climbers are a creative bunch, likely due to the mental processes required to get us to the top of a frozen bit of water.  There are really very few rules in this activity. We are after all climbing with a portable one-armed belay. Anything goes really, just get to the top safely.

And just as there are few rules in climbing there are seems to also be few rules in how to approach the artistry used in Ice Fest Posters.

Ouray From Above

Ouray From Above

Last year, FI Co-Owner Ben Carlson shot aerial footage of the Ice Park and Camp Bird Rd.  Get psyched with his edit, and be sure to come by our booth to check out the Kronos, DRY ICE Tools, and ICICLES.  See you at the fest!

The Moment

The Moment

It's rare, that feeling you get when the pick sinks into the ice just right.  The moment we all seek as climbers, that perfect stick, that perfect moment.

North American Ice Climbing Festivals 2016 - 2017

Ice climbing continues to grow! And with it are several 'mark your calendars NOW' events that bring us climbers together for fun, friends, ice climbing, and usually lots of beer.  Check out the starred events to get your hands on DRY ICE Tools and KRONOS!

Portland Alpine Festival November 15-19 2016 Portland OR

Bozeman Ice Festival December 7-11, 2016 Bozeman, MT

Sandstone Ice FestivalJanuary 6-8 2017 Robinson Park Quarry, Sandstone, MN

Adirondack International Mountain Fest January 13-15 2017 Keene Valley, NY

*Ouray Ice Fest January 19-22, 2017 Ouray, CO

Smuggler's Notch Ice Bash January 20-22, 2017 Smugglers Notch, VT

Catskill Ice Festival January 27 - January 30, 2017 New Paltz, NY

Mt. Washington Valley Ice Festival February 3-5, 2017 North Conway, NH

Cody Ice Fest February 10-12, 2017 Cody, Wyoming

Lake City Ice Climbing Festival Feb 4 2017 Lake City Colorado

Duluth Ice & Mixed Fest February 10-12, 2017, Duluth, Minnesota

Michigan Ice Fest February 15-19, 2017 Munising, MI

*Valdez Ice Fest February 17-20 2017 Valdez, Alaska  Get REALLY psyched with this:

Rock Spot IceFest Feb 18-23 2017 The Flume Gorge NH 

Southern Ontario Ice Fest February 24-26 Maynooth, Ontario, Canada 

*Furnace Industries will be there! Make sure to check out tjhe KRONOS, DRY ICE Tools and ICICLES. Follow our Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram feed for live tweets and onsite info.

The Kronos: Mixed Pick vs Ice Pick

Winter climbing can throw out a lot of variables: rotten ice, crumbing rock, styrofoam snow, spindrift, bears...

In today’s winter climbing venues, having gear with the ability to adapt to changing conditions is a requirement. It should be no surprise that we designed the pick to be replaceable on the Kronos Wood Ice Tool.  We wouldn’t buy it ourselves if it wasn’t.

In fact, there are two types of picks available for the Kronos Wood Ice Tool, the Kronos Ice Pick, and the Kronos Mixed Pick (both are available here). The main difference is that the thickness of the Ice Pick is 3mm at the tip while the Mixed Pick is 4mm at the tip.  Changing a pick on the the world's only technical tool made of wood is pretty simple: remove the bolts, spread the wood, remove and replace the pick.

Many climbers have inquired what exactly are the differences between our unique picks. Below are the details of each pick, how they differ from one another, and why:

The Mixed Pick (avalaible HERE)

Hand made, hand finished replacement pick for mixed climbing.

Features include:

-Thick 4mm tool-grade steel down to tip of the pick, Type T rated

-More aggressive pick angle for the demands of mixed climbing.  Specifically, a 3.8° increase in pick angle from our Ice pick

-Built-in hammer

-Hedgehog teeth on top of pick for stability during stein pull maneuvers

-Wider at the tip than our Ice pick to standup to abuse

-At the point in the pick that recieves the most torque (measured at 25mm from the tip) the depth of the Mixed Pick (the distance from the top of the pick's bevel to the teeth) is .75 mm more than the Ice Pick (Bonus detail at the end of this article)

-Weight: 199g (7oz)

The Ice Pick (available HERE)

Hand made, hand finished replacement pick for ice climbing.

Features include:

-Pick thickness narrows from 4mm at the pick head to 3mm at the pick’s tip for ease of ice placements and minimal ice displacement

-Ideal pick angle arrived at with input from 25 recreational climbers, 25 guides, and 25 pro climbers

-Smooth top of pick for ease of removing deep ice placements

-Type B rated

-Weight: 180g (6.3oz)

For more visual comparison, check out these pics below:

Ice Pick on Top.  Mixed Pick Below.

Detail comparison.  Note the differences in thickness at the pick's tip.

Here, the Mixed Pick is on top of the Ice Pick.  The hammer and aggressive angle of the mixed pick are clear. 

Here. the Ice Pick is on top of the Mixed Pick.  The 3.8° difference in pick angle is clear.

Bonus Extra Techy Detail

While the difference in depth between the Ice and Mixed Pick is only .75mm, a tiny amount, the added thickness of the Mixed Pick amounts to a 11.39 sq mm difference in cross sectional area over the Ice Pick at 25mm from the tip.  That’s 27.5% more material at the point of highest torque.


7 Reasons to train for ice climbing

Furnace Industries is two guys, Ben and George. While we like to think we’re industry standard setting uber-ice climbers who invented and hand produce cool products including a new ice axe, the reality is we get bogged down with real life, family, career, and the minutia of running a small climbing gear company.  So when we finally get to go ice climbing we want to be in the best shape possible so we can have the most fun.  But there are more practical reasons to train in and out of the climbing gym.  Read on for 7 of them…

1 - You’ll get used to the ‘Disconnect’

Not a lot has been written about the Disconnect but it can be a very real barrier to entry for many new ice climbers.  Unlike rock climbing where we use bare hands and feel the rock to know how a hold feels, we primarily use ice climbing tools to ice climb.  Because we’re not physically grabbing the medium on which we’re climbing, there is a ‘disconnect’ between climbing and medium that can mess with some folks heads.  This is the #1 problem new ice climbers face.  Add to that disconnect cold fingers, wind, crampons, bulky clothes and gloves, snow in your face, maybe even a face shield, and it’s easy to realize why ice climbing can be at first overwhelming.

By training with Dry Ice Tools, new and even seasoned climbers can overcome that disconnect months in advance of winter’s first icicle formation. Dry Ice Tools teach climbers learn to get a feel for security of the hold through the shaft of the tool. In ice climbing this is called ‘pick feedback’.  The more in-tune the climber is with the feel of placement, the higher the confidence level.

After all, why waste the first few days of the season getting ready for that hard project when you can be ready for it on day 1.

2 - Prevent injury

This cannot be stressed enough. Hitting that crimp on your favorite boulder problem 1,000 times will result in injury. If you want a long and healthy rock and ice climbing career, you must do other activities. One of the main ways to prevent injury is to cross train.

Dry Ice Tooling, lifting weights, running, biking and doing yoga in addition to your climbing routine will develop muscles that climbing neglects, ensuring that your muscles remain in proper balance. Plus, it just makes you a more interesting human being to have interests outside of climbing.

3 - Your head will be in the right place

Leading ice climbs is risky business, and having a solid lead head is a critical. Run out above your last ice screw on a WI5, mind and forearms screaming at you, the decision making process can become downright visceral. Lead climbing with Dry Ice Tools in the gym teaches a climber how to quiet the panic, bring control to your decisions, manage the pump, and arrive safely at that next stance, all in a lovely climate controlled interior with happy fixed clips.

4 - Grip Strength

Hangboard workouts are a great way to build grip and finger strength for rock climbing, but when ice climbing we really only use the handles of the tools, and those are in different positions than a hangboard provides. Training specifically for the grip of an ice tool will yield better results. The problem is, simply using your ice tools on a hangboard will also not help.  Ice tools are designed to be used with gloves. The volume of the handle is smaller to accommodate the added bulk of a glove.  Trying to use them barehanded may work, but the shape of the grip is simply not training the right muscles.

Dry Ice Tools have increased volume in the handles and are designed to be used barehanded in a gym setting so climbers can train their grip strength with the ergonomic specificity for the volume of their real ice tools.  Training the right muscles the right way yields the best results.

5 - Core Strength

This is SUPER important.

In rock climbing, our core muscles play a key role in enabling our arms and legs to maximize leverage and transfer torque from hand to foot and vice versa. The core muscles are what provide body tension when you’re trying to make a long reach or twisting body movement. In fact, every full-body climbing movement calls the core muscles into action. Developing your core will empower you to prevail through steep ice, while a weak core will leak energy and make hard moves harder.

Dry Ice Tools isolate your feet and specifically work your core, especially on vertical to overhanging terrain. Even a few laps with Dry Ice Tools on vertical terrain will have a V10 boulderer calling for tension.

6 - Footwork

Footwork is the foundation of solid climbing.  However, when rock climbing we can use our arms to leverage ourselves through certain moves, pushing and pulling our center of gravity as needed.

When ice climbing, that ability is limited.  Pulling sideways on an ice tool placement will usually result in a pick twisting out of the ice. This requires ice climbers to have excellent footwork to compensate for that loss of lateral control.  Because Dry Ice Tools isolate the lower body and bring awareness back to the feet, every climber can benefit from even a few runs on a pair of Dry Ice Tools.

7 - Safety

A sum of all the previous reasons, training with Dry Ice Tools will result in safer and ultimately more fun and enjoyable outings.  Climbing and training indoors in a gym allows us to learn good judgment without the serious consequences of bad judgment.  Building strength, honing our lead head, and having great footwork sets everyone up to safely push their limits.


You’ll look and feel amazing! Have you seen Will Mayo recently?


What’s better than climbing? More climbing.  By training for ice climbing, you’ll be able to ice climb longer, safer and have more fun.  Because at the end of the day, that’s what training with Dry Ice Tools is all about.


Field Test - RAGGED MOUNTAIN GUIDES Put the kronos on trial

Field Test - RAGGED MOUNTAIN GUIDES Put the kronos on trial

Matt Shove, AMGA Certified Rock Instructor, SPI Provider, and CWI Provider 

I have seen the KRONOS tools around for 2 or 3 winters now.  Someone always seem to have a pair at the ice fest clinics.  At first glance, I wanted a pair to hang above my fireplace.  They are just beautifully designed.  Elegant even.  I hated the idea of taking them climbing.  I wouldn’t want to ding them up or even scratch them.  However, they are T rated!

During this past winter, I was teaching a clinic at New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Valley Ice Fest called Ice Climbing for Rock Climbers.  We had done some top roping to get the excitement out of our system.  Everyone climbed a few times.  I was collecting tools to do some drills.  I like to do that so when we get to the point where we can coach climbing movement,  everyone has some context to draw from.  My colleague Karsten Delap gave me a belay.  I started up a 50 foot  WI 3+ practice flow with 4 Petzl Nomics, 2 Grivel North Machines, a pair of Quarks, and a pair of Furnace Industries Kronos.   My goal was to set up an offset ladder of staggered tools so our guests could practice working their feet with out exhausting themselves swinging.

I knew what the Nomics were going to do.  The North Machines were pretty good.  The Quarks are always too light for pure waterfall ice.   By now, from swinging tools overhead on a cold day, my hands were getting cold.  I unclipped the Kronos from my clipper, gave it a swing, and sunk it first try.  I had a similar experience with the second Kronos. I can only compare it to hitting a baseball with a Louisville Slugger.  It has a very distinct swing, but it was good and solid.  When you hit the first swing stick, it was as if David Ortiz himself hit your home run. 

I continued to use the Kronos for the remainder of the day, my hands stayed warm due to the wood shafts, and most of all, I preferred the damp vibration-less report that is too common with aluminum shaft tools.  Plus, they have something the Nomic doesn’t: a real spike for lower-angled terrain. 

Furnace Industries Co-Owner Ben Carlson loaned me a pair to use for the remainder of the winter after Rock Climb Fairfield’s Ice Fest and dry tool comp.  My clients and guests loved them, and in fact they gravitated towards these beautiful tools over the gear they used in the past.  We used them in Huntington Ravine, on the steeps at Frankenstein, at Champney Falls, Cathedral Ledge, and other local spots.  They were a hit. 


  • ·      Functional design and shape
  • ·      Thin pick for limited ice displacement (a mixed pick is available tho)
  • ·      Pick shape is optimized for ice climbing or dry tooling on rock
  • ·      Wood shaft is elegant and keeps your hands warm, hard to beat this
  • ·      Elegant appearance—a work of art
  • ·      Good, functional spike
  • ·      Shaft doesn’t flex even when full size dudes yard/stein pull hard
  • ·      Narrow grip allows smaller hands to fight the pump
  • ·      Tool does not shift when matching on the upper grip
  • ·      Fine tuned picks that wear well and are replaceable
  • ·      Strong T rated shafts, strong enough for use as a deadman anchor in snow

Bottom Line:  If you prefer an elegant and functional piece of kit, this tool is for you.

Matt Shove

AMGA Certified Rock Instructor

AMGA SPI Provider and CWI Provider

NY State Guide Lic# 4218

(203) 228-2311  HQ

Photos Courtesy Ragged Mountain Guides