Had another great day of ice guiding down in Lake City, and will be heading back there again tommorow! Here is an article I wrote for the CB Weekly, which will come out tommorow. C ya!
The Guide’s Corner
“Think Before you Screw”
Placing good ice protection is important. Many accidents happen due to protection that is placed improperly. Although you should not fall while leading an ice climb, ice protection can save your life, if placed properly. It is crucial for an ice climber to know how to place proper protection. There are many factors that lead to the proper placement of an ice screw. To me placing protection is a combination of science, art, and educated guesswork.
An ice screw is an anchor, which holds you when you fall; therefore you want to be able to trust it. To place a piece of protection you need to first locate good ice. Good ice is usually found to be dense, cold, and well bonded to rock. Dense ice is usually clearer and bluer in color, then aerated (whitish), or sun baked ice. Solid ice can be found behind pillars and flat areas where water can pool, similar to a hockey rink.
After finding good ice, the next step in placing good protection, is to have a good stance. A good way to practice your stance is on top rope; before you even get on the sharp end, or lead. Focus on keeping your heels low and staying in a well balanced stance; because while you are on lead, you will be hanging directly from one tool, without the safety of the top rope. Your end goal is to be able to place timely, strong ice protection, from either hand. Many people only use their strong hand, but to be efficient you should be able to place screws fluidly from both your strong and weak side.
Next time you are out ice climbing remember to swing efficiently, kick efficiently and place screws efficiently. And don’t forget to have fun either! Have a great season!
While not out guiding ice climbing, backcountry skiing or instructing avalanche courses, for CBMG, Kyle can be found dreaming of an ice park here in the Gunnison Valley. The Guide’s corner is sponsored by CBMG, Offering hut trips, multi-day tours, ice climbing ventures, avalanche courses, ski mountaineering adventures, half and full day cross-country ski tours, snowshoe tours and backcountry ski and snowboard trip. All backcountry gear can be provided. For more information contact CBMG at 097-349-5430 or visit www.crestedbutteguides.com