Trad Glasses Are Here!

While wearing TG’s®, climbers now ascend the cliff armed with the knowledge of decades of beta right in front of their eyes!

Route Guide: Buttermilk Falls in the Catskills

Ben Carlson bridging the gap on the final pitch of Buttermilk Falls, Catskills NY. Photo: Bill Baer.

Ben Carlson bridging the gap on the final pitch of Buttermilk Falls, Catskills NY. Photo: Bill Baer.

One of the finest outings in the Catskills, climbing the entirety of the Buttermilk Falls (BMF) ravine offers one of the longest adventure outings in the range. While not the most technically difficult climbing in the Catskills, BMF is an involved day that includes a challenging off-trail approach with bushwhacking, route finding, rope and risk management rewarded with 7 fun pitches of Catskill backcountry grade WI2-WI5 ice climbing. BMF has enough terrain to support several parties and allows climbers to choose their own challenge. Add in an exciting river crossing that may or may not be easily passable and you have the makings of a deeply memorable and exciting day out.

This is a beta guide to climbing Buttermilks Falls. If you’re the self-sufficient outdoorsy type that likes to figure it out on your own, stop reading. If you feel more comfortable having more information than none, this is for you.

Note: Snow and ice conditions vary from year to year, month to month, even hour to hour. It is possible that much of the information here may be incorrect. I’ve tried to be general about the character of each pitch, but BMF is it’s own beast. It can be forming when you think it should be falling down, deteriorating when you think if should be fat. Be prepared for everything and #seekqualifiedinstruction. Rescue from the BMF ravine would be a costly and arduous affair. Be prepared to spend the night. If you don’t think you can handle any one of these wilderness challenges described below, swallow your ego and hire one of the excellent guides out of New Paltz: Mountain Skills, EMS Climbing School, Alpine Endeavors, more guide services are available at Rock and Snow.

Route Condition Beta: BMF is a reliable north-facing route that sees little direct sunlight. BMF comes in early and lasts till late in the season. It is possible to scope out the top pitches from the road. Binoculars are helpful.

Gear Beta: Most parties will feel comfortable with 5 to 6 13-16cm screws, a 60m rope, and 8 alpine draws. If the plan is to climb harder or mixed terrain, edit your kit appropriately. Of note: Microspikes can be very useful on the approach / descent.

Descent Beta: There are two options of the descent, rappel or walk off. Details here.

Below is a map of the journey. The approach / descent is in red. The ice climbing portion is in blue.

Route Guide Buttermilk Falls in the Catskills Ben Carlson BMF Kronos Furnace Industries DRY ICE Tools 2.jpg

Parking Beta:

Typically most climbers start from the parking area on Route 23A located here:


This is the same lot used by climbers accessing the ice climbs at Asbestos Wall. On weekends with good conditions this lot can fill up quickly.

Tip: On the drive up the ravine from Palenville, scope out the level of the water in the creek. If the water is high you may choose to do the long approach from the very limited parking area down valley for Moore’s Bridge.

Begin by walking downhill on the shoulder of road about 70 meters. Use extreme caution and stay off the road. The ski traffic is heavy and they drive fast. Peer over the guardrail and select the least treacherous descent down the steep slope to the Kaaterskill Creek. This slope faces due south. Depending on the sun condition this slope can be very loose and muddy, or leaf-covered and frozen. In a good year this will be covered with snow and you can delightfully glissade through the hardwood.

At the creek, find the widest part of the creek. The widest part with have the slowest current and higher potential for solid ice bridges. The creek can be completely frozen over, or a slippery boulder hopping affair. You may choose to don your crampons here to manage the risk of slipping or falling in the creek. Many times it is possible to hop from boulder to boulder in the creek. It is entirely possible that the creek may not be crossable. DO NOT chance it. If you cannot find a safe place to cross, or if there is rain or a very warm temperature swing in forecast in the afternoon, climb something else.

Tip: In recent years, someone has marked a decent crossing with pink surveyor’s tape.

Crossing Kaaterskill Creek in solid conditions.

Crossing Kaaterskill Creek in solid conditions.

After crossing the creek, scramble up the opposite slope until you come across what feels like an old road. Turn Left and head down valley until you are about 50 meters from crossing the BMF drainage. Staying climbers right of the BMF creek bed, bushwhack and scramble your way up ravine for about 30-40 minutes from the Kaaterskill. This slope can be very steep. Use caution. Again, put on your crampons if you feel the footing is insecure.

Tip: For the full monty, continue into the BMF drainage. Climb up the entire creek bed of ice bulges and short pillars from Kaaterskill creek to the top of the final pitch.

About 40-50 mins after leaving the car, you’ll arrive at the first pitch. This pitch is a great example of how BMF offers something for everyone. Steep vertical ice on the right, lower angle, fat ice on the center and left, and if the pitch is a total disaster, it’s even possible to scramble around it and avoid it. Gear up here. Most climbers will climb with their packs since they may not be descending this way (see Descent).

Gearing up at the beginning of P1.

Gearing up at the beginning of P1.

After P1, continue scrambling up the creek bed till you arrive at the shortest pitch on the route. Pitch(ette) 2 climbs up from a very deep pool. Make sure its frozen before walking over it.

View from the top of P1.  Kronos Ice Tools  in the foreground.

View from the top of P1. Kronos Ice Tools in the foreground.

“Pitch” 2. Not really a pitch, but not really a place you want to fall either.

“Pitch” 2. Not really a pitch, but not really a place you want to fall either.

Route Guide Buttermilk Falls in the Catskills Ben Carlson BMF Kronos Furnace Industries DRY ICE Tools 7.jpg

Continue up the creek to the tantalizing Pitch 3. Climb on the left, or right, center, or challenge yourself with one of the emerging mixed lines on the far right.



Mixed lines for the creatively minded.

Mixed lines for the creatively minded.

Coming up P3. Photo Ben Carlson.

Coming up P3. Photo Ben Carlson.

Wide and aesthetically pleasing, the poetic Pitch 4 offers many options. It would be possible to climb at the pitch 4 amphitheater all day. The left side of the high flowing main falls is usually in good and easy shape. The right side offer steeper climbing. For those seeking a challenge there is usually a very steep grade 5 pillar forms to the left of the main falls. Take care in lean conditions as the ice can be thin at the top.

P4. Steeper than it looks.

P4. Steeper than it looks.

Climbing the steep pillar left of main flow at P4.

Climbing the steep pillar left of main flow at P4.

From the top of P4, scramble up to the rollicking P5. Really 2 short pitches, P5 can very wet. Pick a line but do your best to avoid the wettest section as the best is yet to come.

Looking up to P5, on the right, from the top of P4.

Looking up to P5, on the right, from the top of P4.



Wild and free on P5. Note the wet ice on the right of pic.

Wild and free on P5. Note the wet ice on the right of pic.

Tip: It’s possible to diverge from the main creek to the rolling slabs Left of the main flow..

Slabs and short pillars in a never-ending-choose-your-own-adventure of ice climbing that is BMF.

Slabs and short pillars in a never-ending-choose-your-own-adventure of ice climbing that is BMF.

Surmount a short bulge on your way to ‘the wall’ that is P6.

Short bulge pre-P6.

Short bulge pre-P6.

Tip: Those with a keen eye will notice an exciting line dropping down to the right of P6. If you have it in you, do this route. Excellent, steep climbing, and fun. Lower back to the main route from the tree anchor and continue over to P6.

Route Guide Buttermilk Falls in the Catskills Ben Carlson BMF Kronos Furnace Industries DRY ICE Tools 18.jpg

P6 is wide and offer several different types of featured ice. Usually best in the center. Enjoyable climbing on your way to…

P6. So much ice! P7 visible above.

P6. So much ice! P7 visible above.

…the final pitch of Buttermilk Falls.

What’s better than climbing, MORE climbing! In typical BMF character, the transcendent P7 offers many options, a fat main falls, a fat, steep pillar just right of the main flow, a Stas Beskin style freestanding pillar on the right, and mixed routes far Left and far Right to explore. Woo-Hoo! Note: There is a rescue cache far right on this final tier.

BMF early in the season.

BMF early in the season.

BMF later in the season.

BMF later in the season.

Soak it in, have some tea, eat something, and prepare for the descent.


Option 1 - Leave pack at base.

Rap the route, pick up your pack, and follow your steps out the way you came in.

Option 2 - Take pack with you.

If you choose this option you’ll be walking down The Express.

Route Guide Buttermilk Falls in the Catskills Ben Carlson BMF Kronos Furnace Industries DRY ICE Tools. 22.png

This is a walk off option that is a bit of a quad burner with some involved route rinding. The advantage is that if there is good snow, this option is much faster and also much safer than rappelling. Remember, the largest percentage of climbing accidents are rappelling accidents.

There is no defined trail. The general trend on this descent is to ride the sharp steep ridge along the edge of the drainage 1500ft down to the bottom of the valley. I’ve documented some significant features for you to find along the way. Ultimately, use your nose, stick close to the ridge, keep going down, and be careful.

From the bottom of P7, look off to the far far left. Head for the large pillars / slabs left of the main BMF flow.

Route Guide Buttermilk Falls in the Catskills Ben Carlson BMF Kronos Furnace Industries DRY ICE Tools Descent.jpg
Route Guide Buttermilk Falls in the Catskills Ben Carlson BMF Kronos Furnace Industries DRY ICE Tools Descent 2.jpg

Continue along this tiny terrace into the woods.

Route Guide Buttermilk Falls in the Catskills Ben Carlson BMF Kronos Furnace Industries DRY ICE Tools Descent 3.jpg

Wend your way down the ridge and find this split boulder along the cliff band. There is a large crack in it. Go down through it.

Route Guide Buttermilk Falls in the Catskills Ben Carlson BMF Kronos Furnace Industries DRY ICE Tools Descent 4.jpg
Route Guide Buttermilk Falls in the Catskills Ben Carlson BMF Kronos Furnace Industries DRY ICE Tools Descent 5.jpg

Trend Left and continue down to a break in the next cliff band. Climbers have begun to build cairns at these cliffs band crossings..

Route Guide Buttermilk Falls in the Catskills Ben Carlson BMF Kronos Furnace Industries DRY ICE Tools Descent 6.jpg

Some kids / hunters have built a small fort out of sticks and tow rope. Pass this. Stay Left and find another break in the next cliff band.

Route Guide Buttermilk Falls in the Catskills Ben Carlson BMF Kronos Furnace Industries DRY ICE Tools Descent 7.jpg

Continue to ride the ridge down. Stay left and find a break in the next and last cliff band. Descend.

Route Guide Buttermilk Falls in the Catskills Ben Carlson BMF Kronos Furnace Industries DRY ICE Tools Descent 8.jpg

At this point a slight but steep trail will begin to reveal itself. Follow this and wind back to the left and down the ridge.

Route Guide Buttermilk Falls in the Catskills Ben Carlson BMF Kronos Furnace Industries DRY ICE Tools Descent 9.jpg

Continue down the trail. Stay close to the ridge.

Route Guide Buttermilk Falls in the Catskills Ben Carlson BMF Kronos Furnace Industries DRY ICE Tools Descent 10.jpg
Route Guide Buttermilk Falls in the Catskills Ben Carlson BMF Kronos Furnace Industries DRY ICE Tools Descent 11.jpg

When you’re just about to the Kaaterskill Creek, bust Left (skier’s left), cross the BMF Drainage and pickup your track from the way up.

Cross the creek, then up the final slap-in-face slope to the car.

Crossing Kaaterskill Creek.

Crossing Kaaterskill Creek.

What a kick in the teeth this final slope it.

What a kick in the teeth this final slope it.


Build a Dry Tooling Wall on a Tight Budget

Rock Climbing season, also known as the ‘off-season’ for ice-thusiasts, can be a wonderful time of cragging and suns-out-guns-out excitement. Except for this past year in the Northeast USA where the weather was crap for 9/10 of the year. Rained almost every week, and when it did, it came down harder than an Access Fund campaign on threatened lands.

So rather than lament the terrible rock season, why not knock together some oddball pieces of wood and build a dry tooling wall? My house, a.k.a. Furnace Industries USA Headquarters, is currently undergoing some renovations, so I asked the contractor to leave me some scrap wood for a ‘proj’. Here’s how my buddy Mike and I built a super-low-budget wall to get psyched for the upcoming ice season while waiting for the cliff to dry out. Cost: $8.49 Time: 2 hrs.


Materials list:

2 - Good condition pallets, Leftover from building materials delivery, or scavenged from any big box retailer. The ones we used happened to be 36” wide.

2 - 12’ 2 x 12s Leftover from roof construction. These were untreated, I know they’ll rot, but you use what you have.

1 - 4’ 2 x 12 - Rando off-cut from renovations.

1 - 4’ 2 x 4 - Pulled from the dumpster

52 - Exterior Grade 2.5in #8 Screws (or ‘fasteners’ for the O.C.D. ilk) Found in the back of the garage, or $8.47 at Home Depot.

1 - Slab of leftover LVL from renovation for the wall to stand atop so that the bottom doesn’t sit directly on the ground and rot quickly. Could easily have substituted cinder blocks.

40’ - Leftover Gym Rope. Our local gym was tossing their old top ropes during their routine rope replacement. Although not good for climbing, they are still fine for rigging the dry tooling wall.

2 - 4in x 1/2” Stainless Steel Eyebolts with nuts and washers. These we did buy. $8.49 for both at our local hardware store. Probably could be found cheaper other places, but, you know, tariffs

1 - Locking Carabiner. Just pulled one from the gear bin.


Eye Protection and Gloves. Don’t pull a Tommy Caldwell or lose an eye.


Saw, in case you need to trim things down or cut anything to size.

Screw Bits and Drill Bits

Squeeze Clamps

Sawhorses or table, although we could have just worked on the ground.

Building the Wall

Gather materials and get ready to rock.

-Squeeze clamp the pallets to the 2x12’s We chose to make the top pallet flush with the top of the wall and then space the lower pallet 4” lower from the bottom of the top pallet so keep the rungs at a regular spacing. We also chose to align the front of the pallet to the front of the 2 x 12s. It was just easier to build that way.


-Pre Drill 8 - 1/8” holes long each side of each pallet. We chose to do 4 from the inside and 4 from the outside on each length of each pallet for no other reason than we thought it would be stronger.


-Slam screws in. Make SURE the screws are connecting in both the pallets and the 2 x 12s.


-Add some structure. We chose to add a short 2 x 12 at the bottom and a 2 x 4 at the top for rigidity. 2 screws each side on each.

-Add some feet. We didn’t want to have to worry about wearing rock shoes or fruit boots, so we added two rungs of scrap flooring material pulled from the dumpster and cut to size.

-Install eyebolts. Drill 1/2” holes equidistant from the sides and top of the 2 x 12’s on both sides. This is the place you do not want to take chances. These must be solid.


-Rig up the wall. We had a tree in the back yard with a convenient split at a good rigging height.

-Crush. As a bonus, we rigged to be able to adjust the angle.

So there you have it, a DIY Drytooling wall that cost less than a coffee date at Starbucks.


Ice Climbing Festivals 2018 - 2019

Ice Climbing Festivals 2018 - 2019

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 ICICLES!



MCA Ice Climbing Festival September 21-23 2018 Glacier Park Resort AK (near the Matanuska Glacier) Events are based out of campsites #9 3/4 in the open field by the river and closer to the toe of the glacier.

Portland Alpine Festival November 13-18 2018 Portland OR

Bozeman Ice Festival December 5-9 2018 Bozeman, MT

Sandstone Ice Festival January 4-6 2019 Robinson Park Quarry, Sandstone, MN

Adirondack International Mountain Fest January 11-14 2019 Keene Valley, NY

*Ouray Ice Fest January 24-27, 2019 Ouray, CO

Smuggler's Notch Ice Bash January 25-27, 2019 Smugglers Notch, VT

Catskill Ice Festival January 25-28 2019 New Paltz, NY

Mt. Washington Valley Ice Festival February 1-3, 2019 North Conway, NH

Cody Ice Fest February 7-10, 2019 Cody, Wyoming

Lake City Ice Climbing Festival February 9, 2019 Lake City Colorado

Duluth Ice & Mixed Fest February 2019, Duluth, Minnesota

Michigan Ice Fest February 13-17, 2019 Munising, MI

Valdez Ice Fest February 15-18 2019 Valdez, Alaska  Get REALLY psyched with this:

Rock Spot IceFest February 15-24 2019 The Flume Gorge NH 

Southern Ontario Ice Fest February 22-24 2019 Maynooth, Ontario, Canada 




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

Remarkables Ice & Mixed Festival Aug 15-18 2018 Queenstown NZ


Portillo Ice Fest Aug 17-19 2018 Portillo, Chile

Erzurum Ice Climbing Festival Jan 24 2018 Uzundere, Erzurum, Eastern Turkey.

3 Ice-Tacular Reasons to stop at the Furnace Industries Booth at the 2018 Ouray Ice Festival

3 Ice-Tacular Reasons to stop at the Furnace Industries Booth at the 2018 Ouray Ice Festival

It’s that time!  The Ouray Ice Festival, the biggest, baddest, most amazing ice festival on planet earth happens this weekend. Furnace Industries is proud to return as a sponsor.  We have the tool that has everyone in the ice community talking, awesome prizes for our annual pull-up contest, and our flagship product that has completely changed the game in training for ice.

If being in beautiful Ouray, Colorado wasn’t awesome enough, here are 3 more reasons to swing by the Furance Industries booth this weekend:

1. The Kronos

Furnace Industries Kronos.jpeg

It’s gorgeous, reduces vibration, keeps your hands warmer and of course climbs amazingly. The Kronos offers features no other tool can, and YES, we will have them available to demo. This is a big deal. Why? No other wood ice tool in history has achieved the 'T' rating. The KRONOS is the first. Don’t know what a ’T’ rating is? You should, our lives depend on it.

2. The Annual DRY ICE Tools Pull-up Contest!

DRY ICE Tools Pull Up Contest.jpeg

It's open to any man/woman/child/bighorn sheep/space alien. The winner will be whoever knocks out the most pull-ups over two days. The contest is cumulative, starts on Friday at 8 a.m. and finishes on Saturday at 4 p.m.  Climbers can pop in, crank out 10, head out climbing, swing back, crank out 10 more, go have a beer, crank out 10 more... Last year, our comp brought out some big guns at Ouray. Devon Stratton won with 910 pullups! Devon won a sweet Grivel Zen 35 Backpack.  This year the prize is the top-of-the-line Maxim Rope , the 9.1 x 60m 2X Dry Bi-Pattern Airliner Torch. That's a $349 prize folks. Get excited for this pull-up THROWDOWN!

3. DRY ICE Tools

DRY ICE Tools Furnace Industries.jpg

Our original product continues to change the game in large part to a fan base that understands that training in the off-season, even a small amount, leads to big results in strength, muscle memory, and confidence.  They also appreciate well-crafted, excellently-designed products.  Many climbing gyms now own their own DRY ICE Tools as well as our ICICLES and offer clinics to members on ice climbing movement.

Do not miss this!  Get down to Ouray and check us out.  We also have some other new surprises, hats to win, along with our usual pithy and humorous sticker selection to decorate your helmet/car/water bottle/wind deflector/friend's forehead when they're sleeping...

Génération Dry

Génération Dry

Furnace Industries is proud to present Génération Dry.

Come with us to discover what dry-tooling is through world class athletes and astonishing routes all over the Alps, including a historical route in the North Face of the Drus. These events are FREE.

There will be two showings:

Jan 27 Rock and Snow, 8pm
Feb 23 Southern Ontario Ice Festival, 8pm

#ItsAlwaysIceSeason Gaetan RAYMOND Génération Dry Dry Tooling Style

It is a fact that our winters are less and less cold (although maybe not this year). Therefore it is harder and harder to get the conditions for ice-climbing. Fortunately, man adapts to his environment and makes progress: this is how dry-tooling was born. This movie will make you discover this discipline: its history, its evolution and the current practice. You will also see how much excitement dry tooling can bring. Dry-tooling now allows to free-climb some routes which were impossible to climb without aid in the past.

To make this documentary worth it, we have spent two intense years of filming. From Chamonix to Italy, but also in Grenoble and in so many other places… we traveled a lot. We were looking for the most astonishing routes, awesome landscapes. Even though you may not be a climber, we wanted to make a film that you will enjoy watching.

In fact, this movie is not just about dry-tooling, but it also aims at showing the many dimensions of the mountains, through the multiple aspects of current alpine winter mountaineering. It is the history of the evolution of the alpine practice through dry-tooling. 
So just grab a seat, some popcorn… and enjoy the film!

The film is available for purchase here:

Training for Ice & Mixed Climbing - Time to Climb

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
Hard Core
Special Techniques
Head Games

Derek Castonguay on Tangled Up In Blue WI4, Ouray CO

Derek Castonguay on Tangled Up In Blue WI4, Ouray CO

You’re doing:
Foundation with Fortification- 3x / week
Hard Core - 3x / week
Endurance - 3x / week
Special Techniques - 2x / week
Heads Games - Every time you climb

Time to Climb

You’ve trained physically and mentally.  Picks are sharpened, screws reconditioned. The ice is in. You are ready to rock this. Go forth and crush.

If you’ve read this far in the series, you may already have, or know a lot about, ice climbing equipment. Below are some ideas about more specialized gear you may find helpful.

Specialized Equipment

1 Fruit Boots.jpg

Fruit Boots

On the UIAA competition circuit and at more serious mixed climbing crags, all climbers are using Fruit Boots.  These are hyper-specialized lightweight footwear with minimalist crampons bolted directly to the sole of a stiff, sticky rubber boot.  Think of a board-lasted high-top rock shoe with a crampon and some insulation.

If you’re aiming for some sporty mixed routes, fruit boots are in your future. Only issue is that they’re not easy to find outside Europe. Here are some makes you may be able to find in the wild.

Lowa Boots®?color=Lime/Orange




2 Golf Gloves.jpg

When you’re red-lining your climbing limits, you can’t be futzing clips with mitted hand.  As mixed climbers gear up to go for the redpoint, they’re usually wearing a super thin glove, and the mixed climber's glove of choice has become golf gloves due to their finger sensitivity, added friction on tool handles, and price. Definitely not for warmth or durability, golf gloves bring a measure of calm when you get the rope in the clip the first time. For even more grip, go the extra mile and coat your hands in liquid chalk before putting your golf gloves on.

Top 10 Best Men Golf Gloves 2017 Reviews

Other glove options:

Football receiver gloves - Can be found on Amazon



5 Clothes.jpg

Winter climbing clothing solutions are very specific to each person and as such the advice below is specific and anecdotal to my body and experiences.  Here is what I’ve learned after 25 years of ice climbing:

When performing in the winter environment, keeping warm and dry is paramount, but something that many new climbers miss is that climbing ice is extremely physical. Sweating can be a real problem especially if that sweat saturates clothing and begins to rob your body of heat when you slow down (i.e. at the end the pitch). The rule is: Try not to sweat, but at the same time try not to get a chill. Take layers off as needed. Put them on as needed. Slow down. Speed up. Maintain a comfortable body temp while not allowing or your body overheat or to get a chill.  It’s imperative to warm up or cool down so your mind can be calm on the climb.  If it sounds like a lot of work to be constantly adding/removing layers, it is, but it’s just what you must do to maintain comfort in the winter.

Cold Hand Solutions


I tuck these inside the sleeve of my long sleeve base layer, one on each side. They slide around but generally live on the underside of my wrists, which is exactly where I want them.  The goal is to warm the blood that’s going into my hands.  Personally, I’ve never found the need to secure them in place, but some lightly applied athletic tape would do the trick.

Multiple sets of gloves

When you’re out for a day of ice climbing, it’s easy to bring extra sets of gloves and simply change them out when they get wet.  I usually have three pairs. One lightweight set for the approach (BD Lightweight Fleece Gloves), one set for climbing (BD Punishers), and one super warm set for the belays (BD Guide Gloves).  I put the climbing gloves inside my jacket on my chest after each pitch.  There is an incredible amount of drying power available from your torso after leading a pitch of ice.  Put it to good use.
While I’m partial to BD’s hand wear, Outdoor Research, Rab, Mountain Hardwear, Arcteryx all make excellent glove options. Just know that when you’re out there playing hard, you’re going to destroy them.  I have to replace my BD Punisher climbing gloves before every season.

These BD's have been Punished.

These BD's have been Punished.

Cold Feet Solutions


For managing cold feet, it’s important to realize that you’re likely wearing super high tech, leather or plastic insulated alpine climbing boots. Like alpine touring ski boots, they are made to be worn with regular weight socks. Wearing multiple sock layers or super thick socks may actually be making your feet colder. Insulation does not work unless there is a small amount of air for your feet to heat inside the boot.  Wearing multiple sets of socks that make your boots fit too tightly prevents blood circulation and fills in air gaps that would help provide insulation. The key here is to make sure your feet are not being compressed.

Think of it this way: Your cozy warm sleeping bag or puffy jacket only works because the insulation has ‘loft’ creating many tiny air pockets where air is trapped.  Now squish that loft down. Insulation is negated because there are no air pockets.  Heat will simply be radiated through the compressed layer to the outside environment. The same thermodynamic principles apply to feet in socks in boots.

Hand / Toe Warmers

I fit my ice boots like I do my street shoes: comfortably.  These are not rock shoes and you do not want your toes crammed up against the front of the boot. On really cold days when I wear two pairs of log underwear, I tuck handwarmers outside my base layer but inside my expedition weight layer on the inside of my calf/ankle above my boots.  Again, the idea is to warm the blood that’s entering my feet.
On the coldest of days I put toe warmers on the top of my toes on the outside of my socks.


Don’t hesitate to adjust the lacing of your boots often. I have made this mistake a million times. Toes are freezing and all I had to do was loosen the top couple or bottom couple of laces but i didn’t want to undo my gaiters or pant so I just suffered.  STOP and fix it, you’ll be much much happier.

Coming Back Alive

Ice and mixed climbing can be extremely dangerous. These posts are NOT a substitute for sound judgement and decision making. Going out climbing is optional. Coming back is not. If there is ever a doubt, don’t go climbing. Come back another time or hire a guide.

I once climbed with a guy who had a hard and fast “3 Strikes” rule. It goes like this: if three things go wrong, go home. They don’t have to be huge things, but significant enough to affect the day’s outcome, like a forgotten belay device, minorly twisted ankle, dropping a screw.  Your day is over. Go home. Ice climbing is not an activity with wide margins for errors.

Just remember one thing, if there’s an incident, it is never the mountain’s fault.

Avalanche over Polar Circus WI5+/6 in the Canadian Rockies.

Avalanche over Polar Circus WI5+/6 in the Canadian Rockies.


Many world class routes lie directly in the path of major avalanches, including on the East Coast. As ice climbing and winter sports continue to grow, more and more climbers and recreationists are getting caught in avalanches.  Every single one of these incidents was preventable. I strongly, strongly, urge that all ice climbers take an avalanche course.  Here is a link to several providers:


Wear an avalanche rescue beacon that signals your location. And YES, ice climbers should carry beacons.
Learn how to use rescue equipment.
Practice using rescue equipment.


Constantly evaluate avalanche conditions.
Areas with fresh accumulations of wind-driven snow are particularly vulnerable.
Extremely steep slopes particularly in shaded areas near a ridge are also risky.
Always travel with a partner. Descend risky areas one by one and watch for avalanche signs.

9 Furnace Industries Ice mixed climbing training Avy Class.jpg

Rockfall, Icefall, Climbing Under Other Parties


The freeze thaw cycle of ice serves to break up the rock of our mountains. After eons of this fractious activity, our mountains are rife with loose piles of death blocks awaiting the faintest of breezes to topple them over. If you’ve ever heard a rock whiz by at 9.8m/s2, you know by the time you know it’s coming it’s already 50ft below you. Be smart, Wear a helmet.


At some point during the season, the ice will fall down.  Usually at the end, it might even happen in the middle of the season during a warm spell. Collapses even happen during a super cold snap. Assessing the stability of frozen water is one of the most difficult things to learn. It can only be learned by climbing lots and lots of ice, learning it’s different properties at various temps, humidities, altitudes, and locales. Even with all that experience you may still be wrong. Wear a helmet and be conservative in your stress tests.  Also, stack the deck in your favor by not tempting fate standing directly below a 70’ hanging dagger cuz you think it’ll make a nice selfie.

Climbing under people

Ice climbing displaces ice, there’s really no way around it. Some climbers are better at displacing less ice, but it still happens. That ice tumbles to the ground and will do damage to anyone in it’s path.  Worse, that falling ice can trigger snow slides.

One of the world’s best ice climbers, Guy Lacelle, was killed during the 2009 Bozeman Ice Festival when he was caught in an avalanche triggered by climbers under whom he was climbing.

No matter how badly you want to do that route, if someone’s on it, WAIT till it’s clear or go do something else.


Be realistic of your and your partner’s abilities.  Do you possess the skills to make an honest assessment of the risks? Could your partner evacuate you if you were unconscious? Could you do the same for them? Do you know first aid? Do you hold WFR Certification? Could you assess the likelihood of a slide event in avalanche terrain?

Until you feel confident that you can handle yourself in this environment, #SeekQualifiedInstruction.  You will learn tons from a certified AMGA guide.

You’re physically ready, mentally ready, and you have the requisite safety skills and first aid training. You climb regularly with DRY ICE Tools. Time to Climb! Buckle in for the ride of your life. There’s just nothing better than climbing ice.


This series was written by Ben Carlson an AMGA SPI Guide and Co-Owner of Furnace Industries Ice Tools.

Training for Ice & Mixed Climbing - Head Games

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
Hard Core
Special Techniques

0 Furnace Industries Ice mixed climbing training Inspo.jpg

You’re doing:
Foundation with Fortification - 3x / week
Hard Core - 3x / week
Endurance - 3x / week
Special Techniques - 2x / week

0.1 Mind Games.png

Head Games

Alpine start. Coffee. 45 min drive to the trailhead. Opening the car door to icy cold slap in the face. Breathy headlamps on. 1.5 hrs uphill avalanche prone gully approach to the route. Packs off below the ice flow, the sun has just begun to turn the sky from soft black to inky azure. Geared up. Ropes flaked. Temps -10°C. You are cold, but somehow sweating, Fingers and toes numb but not hurting. Sound of the water running inside the ice. Look up, it’s steep, dead vertical with crazy blobby overhanging sections high up. 200m snow slope below is exactly 30° followed but a short cliff into the drainage. Tied in. Screws racked. On belay. Swing a tool into the ice and hear the hollow thunk of a ‘maybe-it’s-good’ placement.  Swing again.  Doubts arise. Is it bonded well?  How have the temps been? Are my crampons on the right feet? Butterflies in your stomach. What am I doing here?!  Wait, what?. Tip protectors are still on my screws. This looks scary. Why won’t my hands warm up? It’s starting to snow...

Furnace Industries Ice mixed climbing training Looking Up Bridalveil Falls

Dangerous Liaisons

Ice Climbing is not for the meek. It is incredibly dangerous with extremely high probability of injury during even the shortest of leader falls. For those who are game for lead climbing ice or mixed routes, there’s nothing more consuming of one’s focus or demanding of one’s skills, ‘cept maybe motorcycle racing, or boxing.  The technical and physical parts are easy to learn and prepare. The mental game is not.

The Mental Game

Even with the extreme risks, Ice and Mixed Climbing offer an incredibly rewarding experience that reinforces a deep confidence in one’s self sufficiency.  This type of climbing requires the leader to look deep within. You are quite literally climbing something that will fall down someday.  You have to know when you can do it, and when you can’t.  You must know when the risks are too much, when to walk away.  Risk management is paramount.

2 Furnace Industries Ice mixed climbing training gear.jpg

Be honest about what you know and what you do not. That level of conservative confidence develops from a long climbing apprenticeship, from mistakes made and lessons learned.  From keeping eyes open and senses alert in the mountains.  From seeking qualified instruction such as guided skills courses, avalanche training, lead clinics at ice fests, reading, watching, training in the gym with DRY ICE Tools. From repeatedly experiencing how your body reacts under extreme physical stress.  From knowing how your head performs under extreme mental stress.

Below is just one approach to training your mind to deal with the existential one-two punch that ice and mixed climbers take on the chin.

Mental Training

Not flying? Not trying.

In the gym, get into the red zone.  This means climbing past your ability and really spending time in the zone where you feel like you’re coming off and are indeed coming off.  Get there, stay there, and be there as long as you can. You are going to fall so do this with caution. Do it on lead. Breathe through it. Soak it in.

Notice what happens to: 
-Your breathing - Fast? Slow? Controlled? Short? Deep?
-Your forearms - Flaming? Comfortable? Are you managing the pump by switching hands?
-Your shoulders - Are your shoulders choking up as your grip strength wanes?
-Your arm position - Are you bending your elbows instead of hanging with straight arms?
-Your footwork - What are you feet doing?

3 Furnace Industries Ice mixed climbing training DRY ICE Tools.jpg

Now notice what your mind is doing.  There will be a lot of noise in there. Take a moment to hear it.  Are you hearing “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit”?  Are you telling yourself, “I can’t”?  Is there something saying, “There’s just no way”?, "I Suck.”  Write these things down.  See them on the paper, then write the opposite. “I got this”, “I can”. “I can figure out a way.” “I am climbing very hard and very safely.’

4 Furnace Industries Ice mixed climbing training gear Head Games.jpg

Do this every time you workout your mind on a climb.  The longer you spend in the red zone, the more you’ll learn about what you’re telling yourself and how your mind behaves in that space. Close your eyes and listen to yourself. Do NOT try to fix it, simply become aware of it. Once you can settle down and give that voice the attention it’s demanding, it will simply quiet down, dissipate into the background. This is because you are not those thoughts. You are the observer of those thoughts. You will push past previous failure points once you realize that you, in fact, are your own worst enemy.

Let Go.

5 Two Monks.jpg

Two monks were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her cross to the other side.

The two monks glanced at one another.  They had taken vows not to touch a woman.

Without a word, the older monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, placed her gently on the other side, and carried on his journey.

The younger monk couldn’t believe what had just happened. After rejoining his companion, he was speechless, and an hour passed without a word between them.

Two more hours passed, then three, finally the younger monk could not contain himself any longer, and blurted out “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”

The older monk looked at him and replied, “Brother, I set her down hours ago, why are you still carrying her?”

Ice Climbing and especially Mixed Climbing are excellent at pushing unnecessary thoughts out of your head.  But sometimes there’s that thing that just lingers on the mind.  Going through a rough breakup? Angry at something at work? Did someone cut you off in traffic and is that frustration festering?  Events like these can pull focus away from the serious task at hand.  Three deep breaths. Let go. Be present. Go climb.

6 So Simple.jpg

Other Notes to Quiet the Mind

It is so cold outside that a torrent of falling water has frozen in place.  Your body is 98% water.  If you’re cold, your mental focus is not where it needs to be.  What was the last thing you ate or drank?  To climb at your best your mind requires you to feed the fire to keep warm in the winter environment. Plan your food for the day to maintain body temperature and energy level. Fill up a vacuum bottle with hot drinks.  Drink hot tea at the belays.  Bring a puffy jacket and use it. Eat jerky and chocolate.  Ice climbing is no place for healthy snacks.  You’ll be happier and your lead head will remain intact.

7 Know Thyself.jpg

Know Thyself

More than just an ancient directive handed down from the Greeks, be honest about your failings with yourself and with your partner.  While assessing Objective Hazards, know that it’s Subjective Hazards that more often than not lead to accidents.  Get good at assessing risks, divorcing your desires from potentially unreasonable risk. This is not Point Break. There is precisely zero shame in walking away. The only bruise will be to your quickly-healed ego.

Suggested reading:

The Rock Warrior’s Way by Arno Ilgner
This is THE climber’s mental training bible.

Zen Flesh Zen Bones by Paul Reps (Compiler) and Nyogen Senzaki (Compiler)
First published in 1957, this book became an instant sensation with an entire generation of readers who were just beginning to experiment with Zen.  As climbers we can benefit from these lessons and tales collected over the past 5 centuries.

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
The unassuming bear to introduces us to Eastern philosophical principles. Pooh epitomizes the "uncarved block," as he is well in tune with his natural inner self.

Accidents in North American Climbing - The American Alpine Club
The year’s most significant and teachable climbing accidents

The Stone Mind - Justin Roth
Although Roth has moved on from his weekly climbing-based introspection, his Tao-laced posts continue to be relevant and sing with resonance

Training for Ice & Mixed Climbing - Special Techniques

Training for Ice & Mixed Climbing - Special Techniques

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
Hard 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.

You’re doing:
Foundation with Fortification- 3x / week
Hard Core - 3x / week
Endurance - 3x / week

There are moves that are specific to every climbing discipline. Ice Climbing and Mixed Climbing are no exception. Let’s get ready for them. For maximum indoor training benefit, pick up a pair of DRY ICE Tools since the handles are designed to be used without gloves.

Of course, like most things in climbing there is a small controversy about using the fig 4 or fig 9. The core of the argument is that, like the now much reviled heel spur, the maneuvers make the climb too easy, are technically repetitive, and that nobody does these moves in the mountains.  All those reasons hold water, but the one that may be most relevant is that these moves can be extremely destructive to a climber’s shoulders.  If you want to climb for a long time, limit your use of these moves

Special Techniques Workout 2x / Week

Figure 4 - 10x, 3 sets

The idea with the Figure 4 is to use your own body to leverage your reach even further. The move becomes necessary when getting your feet on severely overhanging terrain becomes an inefficient use of energy. It looks like this:

1 Training for Ice Mixed Climbing Figure 4.jpg

There is really only one way to prepare for this awkward maneuver, and that’s to do it.

Find a solid place to hang from your DRY ICE Tools and use a spotter, bring your legs up, wrap your left leg over your right lower arm / wrist, extend your left leg, and get into a Fig 4.  The closer to your wrist, the further you can reach.  Unwind, drop your legs without touching the ground, repeat on the other arm with opposite leg. 
Continue for 10x. Rest. Do it again. 3 sets.

Figure 9 - 10x, 3 sets

These are essentially the same move, but instead of wrapping your leg over the opposite arm/wrist, wrap it over the same arm/wrist, i.e. left leg to left arm. Remember, the closer you can get the back of your kee to your wrist, the more effective the maneuver.
Continue for 10x. Rest. Do it again. 3 sets.

Marianne Van der Steen doing a Figure 9. Photo  Gaetan Raymond .

Marianne Van der Steen doing a Figure 9. Photo Gaetan Raymond.

Fig 4 to Fig 9 - 10x, 3 sets

Building on the two previous exercises, this puts the two together as is sometimes necessary when traversing through a roof section. From a series produced by world-class climber Gaetan Raymond, the technique looks like this:

In a workout, hang from your DRY ICE Tools, get into a Fig 4, flip your leg over into a Fig 9, unwind and lower leg, repeat with the opposite side

Continue for 10x. Rest. Do it again. 3 sets.

The sequence looks like this:

3 Training for Ice Mixed Climbing Fig 4 to Fig 4.jpg

One Armed Rows - 10x, 3 sets

Why? To get ready for those inevitable and ridiculous long reaches need to get to the good placement when coming out from under an overhang.

Place a DRY ICE Tool on a hold, feet on holds low on the wall. The steeper the wall, the better the better the workout. Reach as high as you possibly can with opposite tool, Lower down slowly. Repeat. Extra points if you add weight to the reaching tool.

Continue to reach as far as you can and lower down slowly, 10 reps, 3 sets

4 Training for Ice Mixed Climbing One Armed Rows.png

Hanging Sit Ups - 10. That's it just 10.

(Yes the upside down ones.)

Why? To get comfortable being upside down and using abs to get to the next placement.
While you need some specialized equipment and a spotter for this, if you have access both, you are in for a treat. Using an Inversion Table, Hang Up Gravity Boots, or if you just your gym’s Ab Bench, get into position and work those abs.

If you don’t have access to that equipment, using your gym’s Ab Bench on it’s highest setting will suffice.

Do not just say ‘F-that, no way’. Just try it, even if you do just one, or even ½ of one.  Work up to these.  When you can knock out 10-12, a whole world of sick, overhanging mixed routes will open up to you.

GP-81. Brooklyn's Newest Climbing Gym

Brooklyn is about to graced with a brand new climbing gym:

GP-81 Climbing and Fitness.

GP81 Climbing and Fitness Gym-19.jpg


Close to final construction, GP-81 (short for 81 Quay St, Greenpoint) will be a bouldering-only gym that features almost 7,000 sq ft of climbing on a three (3) major sections of walls:

-The main feature is 32' wide x 15' tall and is probably the greatest 45° wall in the city.  This wall is flanked by a 16' long 30° wall, and a 15' wide x 17.5' 60° overhanging wall. 

-A 36' long 40° wall that houses 2 Moonboard set-ups and a densely packed splash board.

-A 23' long run of vertical climbing for more technical face problems. This wall links through an overhanging arete into the splash board.

All of the walls were designed and built by the owner themselves with assistance from Hudson Valley Fabrication. The setters will be constantly changing routes for variety and quality ranging in difficulty from V0 - V12.

Of significant note, ALL of the holds at GP-81 were shaped, molded, and poured on site by Dan Yagmin of Decoy Holds. Climbers will be subjected to an entire gym of all new never-before-seen shapes to challenge themselves and grow their library of moves.

The two (2) full-sized LED Moonboards are smartphone-operated. That's right, you can operate the problems with your own phone using the MoonBoard App, calling up pre-defined problems by setter, grade, hold type, or other criteria.

What we gonna do now is go back...

GP-81 is about bringing back the climber's gym. The climbing gym scene in NYC has changed dramatically in the past 10 years, with the openings of more than 5 world class facilities catering to a large demographic, including introducing thousands of new climbers to the sport. In a reaction to this increasingly crowded landscape of urban climbing, GP-81 is meant to be a place for climbers, who have already learned an amount of climbing etiquette, to get away from the busier gyms in the city where queuing up for a climb or problem can be the norm.  Their use of the #antimega makes their intention clear: this is a climber's climbing gym. While GP-81 will not be exclusive, the gym is not planning to offer intro to climbing classes, a offering that is already well covered by the larger NYC gyms.

GP-81 will have a full fleet of rental shoes available.

Double your pleasure, double your fun. #antimega#doublemint #moonboard

A post shared by GP-81 (@gp_eighty_one) on

A joint venture involving several of NYC's climbing cognoscenti, GP-81 is steadily marching towards opening before the 2017 Christmas holiday.

Look at the size of that thing! Ready for route setting..

Look at the size of that thing! Ready for route setting..

The gym is being constructed in a space formerly occupied by the Paramount Paper & Plastic Corp.

The fitness room features ample campus and finger board training provisions. There will be cardio equipment, yoga mats, free weights, exercise balls, and more in a well lit room with LED lighting and two (2) skylights.

GP81 Climbing and Fitness Gym-11.jpg

Climbers will also be able to use DRY ICE Tools.

One of the gym owner's, Cliff Simanski, let it slip that there will also be a bar serving local brews attached to the facility, which is already zoned for outdoor seating! Located adjacent to the climbing and fitness areas, the small, industrial club space offers the perfect atmosphere for decompression and camaraderie after crushing some plastic problems.

The bar area.  Doesn't look like much now, but this will no doubt soon be the coolest bar in Greenpoint. 

The bar area.  Doesn't look like much now, but this will no doubt soon be the coolest bar in Greenpoint. 

GP-81 is located at 81 Quay St Greenpoint, NY 11222. The nearest subways are the G (Nassau St or Greenpoint Av.) and the L (Bedford Av.) There is a Citibike station 1 block away at the intersection of Banker and Meserole Streets, and 3 more within a 4 block radius.

Their website is and should be live soon.  They plan to start pre-sales in the next week or two and folks can sign up online or come by the gym.  Stay tuned for an open house event before the holidays!

Follow GP-81 for news and updates about there opening date via their Instagram Feed: @gp_eighty_one


Training for Ice & Mixed Climbing - Endurance

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

Hard 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.

After a 3 hour approach in knee deep snow, will you have enough juice to top out, descend, and make it home?

After a 3 hour approach in knee deep snow, will you have enough juice to top out, descend, and make it home?

You’ve been doing:
Foundation with Fortification- 3x / week
Hard Core - 3x / week

When standing below 180’ of WI5+, you’ll quickly realize it’s a long, long way to the next belay.  Now do that for for 4-5 pitches, do that everyday for two weeks. and then you'll be rocking some of the bigger routes in the Canadian rockies.  Let’s make sure you have enough juice to get up them.

By now you’re probably feeling pretty strong and climbing pretty hard. But what use is all that power if you can’t last?

No matter how much power you have, if you don't have muscular endurance you can injure yourself with too much repetition. Cardiovascular endurance makes it easier to climb longer and with more intensity, but also make other parts of the day, such as the approach and descent, easier. Besides helping you avoid heart problems and improve your circulation,  endurance training burns more calories than weight lifting, so it can also help you maintain your weight. The CDC recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate cardio per week, or 300 minutes for maximum benefits.

Endurance Workout 3x / Week

Since the beginning of these posts, our goal has been to increase maximum strength, which is why we introduced strength training before endurance training. However, now we’re focusing on endurance, specifically, intensity and duration.

IMPORTANT: It is not a good idea to strength train after an endurance workout.  Attempting a strength building workout when your muscles are already fatigued means you can’t work out at the intensity necessary to provide an ideal training stimulus.  Basically, working already fatigued muscles increases the risk of injury. If your muscles are already tired, coordination suffers and stabilizing muscles will be weakened. After a strength training session your body needs plenty of recovery to repair and rebuild muscle tissue.

In general, you should not do two different types of workouts back-to-back. You will achieve better results in both your strength and endurance training if you give your body sufficient time to recover.

Before getting into our Endurance Workouts, we need to talk about the Exertion Scale.  Since we’ll be using it to describe the workouts, this fun chart explains it:

0.1 Training Ice Mixed Climbing Endurance Exertion Scale.png

The three main exercises for building endurance are swimming, biking, and running. If you’re a triathlete, you already know these all too well.

You could also:
Hike (ideally something very long and steep)
XC Ski
Do other sports like tennis, basketball, soccer, or racquetball
Or just use the cardio equipment a the gym: spinning machine, elliptical, treadmill

Whichever activity you choose, make sure to get you heart rate up and keep it up anywhere from 1-2 hrs. Here are some examples:


1 Training Ice Mixed Climbing Endurance Swim.jpg

Swim a mile, or work up to swimming a mile. No breaks. Exertion: 3-4 and finishing up with a 5-6.

There are many reasons why swimming is one of the greatest all around exercises, but it’s the low-impact resistance training coupled with aerobic benefits that are of particular interests to ice climbers.  Also there’s research that swimmers tend to have healthier lungs allowing them to process oxygen more proficiently, a quality that is clearly beneficial to ice climbers pushing their limits on hard climbs and/or at altitude.


2 Training Ice Mixed Climbing Endurance Bike.jpg

1-2hr Bike Rides.  Exertion: 4-5

Get on that bike and roll out. Could be road, mountain, gravel, BMX, whatever, so long as you’re able to consistently keep the exertion and your heart rate up.  Riding up long hills are best as they require you to push harder for longer, just like on that next long overhanging section, or the approach Grand Illusion in VT.


3 Training Ice Mixed Climbing Endurance Run.jpg

Run for 40-60mins. Starting with level 3-4 exertion and finish with level 5-6.

Think hills, or trail runs.  Road runs will do, but you’ll get more out it if you’re not able to relax into an easy, level pace.   


4 Ice+Climbing+Training+DRY+ICE+Tool+Gym+time.jpg

40-60mins of Climbing. This is not a time for projecting the blue route.  Think laps.  Do 3x 20 min pushes of continuous climbing. Climb at level 3-4.

If you just can’t get enough climbing, you can in fact build endurance for climbing by climbing, but only by climbing a lot.  The key is to go for BIG mileage on easy terrain. This is not about power, it’s about laps. You can double your effectiveness by downclimbing.  However you do it, make sure to keep your heart rate up, NO RESTS.  If you choose climbing as your endurance training, keep the exertion low to avoid tendon injuries: Level 3-4. Remember to do push-ups to work the counter muscles.


All the training in the world is useless if you don't rest. Resting makes the training stick. Below is one approach to maximizing workout effectiveness by slowing down.

-Schedule Down Time. By ‘down time’, we mean light duty activity: a short, fun bike ride, an easy day of climbing, go for a walk. Don’t stop moving. Remember, and object in motion will stay in motion, but an object at rest will stay at rest.

Make sure you schedule at least 24 - 72hrs of rest between intense workouts. Your body needs time to heal, but more importantly, you’re risking injury if you don’t allow your body to recover.

6 Training Ice Mixed Climbing Endurance Sleep.jpg


Make sure you get sufficient sleep.  Hormones released while sleeping are meant to induce a state of recovery in the body. Muscle-building activity and hormone concentrations increase during sleep while muscle-wasting activity and hormone concentrations decrease.

7 Training Ice Mixed Climbing Endurance Hydrate.jpg


Dehydration reduces climbing and athletic performance potential, but also delays the recovery process. Exercise and the accompanying increase in metabolism both increase the body’s need for water and electrolytes. When exercising the minimum amount of fluid intake per day 3.7L/day for males and 2.7L/day for females.


(NOTE: Extensive nutritional advice is outside the scope of these posts. If you’re really serious about training, we highly recommend consulting a nutritionist for athletes or holistic wellness advisor.)

When you’re recovering, it’s time to eat. Protein is key for rebuilding muscle tissue the components for various cells, tissues, enzymes, and hormones. The point is that you must eat while recovering from training. You can save the dieting epics for the mountain, but your training is supposed to be make you harder to kill.

9 Training Ice Mixed Climbing Endurance Massage.jpg


Massage from a therapist or self-massage with foam rollers, massage sticks, and even baseballs can reduce muscle stiffness and promote circulation helping to reduce recovery time.

Gently roll a baseball or massage stick over all major muscle groups until you find a sensitive spot. Apply direct pressure until the pain dissipates. Roll over the muscle again and repeat if necessary. Even if massage doesn’t speed up recovery, it might make you feel better compared to not getting massaged in the first place.

Other resources:

Uphill Athlete
Uphill Athlete is a platform for openly sharing proven training knowledge for the sports of alpinism, mountaineering, rock and ice climbing, ski mountaineering, skimo racing, and mountain running. Run by Steve House, Scott Johnston (House’s coach), Matt Naney, and Maya Seckinger.

Training for the New Alpinism
Training theory translated into practice to allow you to coach yourself to any mountaineering goal.

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.

-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

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