Building the Ideal Ice Climbing Kit:

Most of us buy or acquire our climbing gear slowly over time. When you first get into the sport there’s a lot of expense associated with getting kitted out so gear is bought a little at a time. Once you’ve been climbing for a while, equipment is replaced as it gets worn out or newer, shinier and possibly better gear. Of course this leads to a bit of a mixed bag of gear. But what if money and availability wasn’t an issue? What if you could put together your ideal ice climbing kit from a fictitious store that has everything with a no concerns of cost? Now I’m not talking about clothing or boots here, just the specific hardware needed for climbing.

Here’s what my Ideal Ice Climbing Kit would look like:

Ice Screws:

An assortment of different screws I had out drying after a recent day of climbing.

Black Diamond Ice ScrewI like to carry between 10-16 screws of various lengths when multi-pitch ice climbing, depending on the route, etc. As I climb a lot early in the season and on the West Coast ice a little on the thinner side is quite common. As a result I skew my screw length preference more to the shorter end of the spectrum than I would if I was a more mid-winter, Rockies type ice climber. With that in mind, here’s my ideal ice screw rack:

9 Black Diamond Ultralight Screws: 4 yellow, 4 blue, 1 grey

  • Extremely light, great hanger & crank and they start really easy.
  • On the down side, aluminum screws can bind in wet ice on cold days. To combat this I like to bring some steel screws as well.

6 Petzl Laser Speed Screws: 4 red, 3 yellow

  • Slightly heavier than the aluminum option but no temperature issues
  • They also come in a short 10cm version for shallow ice

Misc. Other Pro:

As mentioned above I do a lot of early season and thin West Coast ice climbing. As a result, ice screws don’t work and so I look to some other gear to supplement my rack. The DMM Terrier and Bull Dog ice pitons are fantastic in frozen turf, icy cracks or thin ice so are definitely on my list. A small assortment of rock pitons are great to have at times as well. A small rack of nuts and cams can also be useful, especially on mixed routes, but we’re really starting to get away from the ice part of the article so let’s skip that stuff for now.


Draws:

With 16 screws I’m going to need about 16 draws right. Here’s how I’d like to break them down:

  • 10 Camp Dyon Express KS Quickdraws: 8 x 11cm, 2 x 18cm
    • The large snagless carabiners make handling the Dyon screws easy with gloves. I prefer the regular KS over the Dyneema version as they don’t twist and they don’t weigh that much more.
  • 6 Extendable/Alpine Draws: Extendable draws made with Camp Dyon carabiners
    • What can I say, they’re great ‘biners!

Ice Tools:

Petzl NomicIt’s hard to narrow this down to a single pair of ice climbing tools. I really like the new Petzl Nomic tools for pure ice climbing and the Ergonomic for steep mixed climbing. However, the Cassin X-Dreams are great as they do both ice and mixed pretty dam well. I’m not a fan of stiffer tools like the DMM Switch, Kronos, etc. as it’s not as easy to get a good feel for a stick. Some of the new composite axes like what EliteClimb is making would be great to try but I’m not sold until I can get my hands on a pair. I don’t like the handles on the current Grivel tool options and I haven’t played with the BD’s Fuel or Reactor tools enough for them to call to me.

In the end, if I had to pick just 1 tool for ice climbing I’d go with Petzl’s new Nomic ice tools. They’re new and sexy, have a great swing, a comfortable handle (thought the Ergonomic handle is even better!), come with a fantastic ice pick and are well featured & designed. A great tool for the type of climbing I like to do.


Ropes:

I really like to climb on a single rope whenever possible. This means that if I don’t need half ropes I’m bringing a single line. However, not all routes are set-up for a single so my ideal kit will have to include both a set of half ropes for routes that wander or have long rappels and a single rope for everything else. Any why not, I said that money wasn’t an issue right!

Single Rope: 70m Beal Opera 8.5mm:

  • Dry, triple rated, light and safer than a lot of other options with Beal’s innovative Unicore™ tech. No bi-pattern option though unfortunately.

Half Ropes: 70m Beal Gully 7.3mm ropes:

  • Again, because of the amazing Unicore™ tech I’m going to stick with Beal on this one. The Gully ropes are light and thin but still confidence inspiring with their resistance to cutting.

Helmet:

Edelrid SalatheThis is easy, the new Edelrid Salathe hybrid helmet. I’d pick this guy mainly because it’s new and I like the bright green coloring. As a gear reviewer I like playing with shiny new toys.

Rock Climbing Helmet
Petzl Sirocco Hybrid Helmet.

Otherwise I would pick the Sirocco as it’s 30g lighter and has a proven track record.


Harness:

The Ghost harness from Beal would be my first choice. It’s lightweight and compact, has 2 built-in ice clipper slots. I’d add a third with a DMM Vault or Petzl Caritool Evo for longer climbs though. The rear gear loops aren’t reinforced so sit they nicely against a pack and of course it’s comfortable. What more can you ask for? Adjustable leg loops you say? Well I suppose.


Crampons:

Cassin Blade Runner

This is a tough one but I think I’ll go with the Cassin Bladerunners. They’re versatile, reasonably light and replacement front points are inexpensive. The Petzl Lynx are great crampons but replacement front point cost over $100 CAD per pair. Crazy! The Black Diamond Stinger crampons are a decent option as well and the replacement points are cheap but they can only run dual points. Grivel’s new G22+ also look cool but they won’t be released until the fall of 2019 so I’ll have to wait to test them out.


Summary:

So that’s what’s in my ideal ice kit, what’s in yours?

 

While we do get given some gear for testing and review it doesn’t influence us in any way, if we don’t like something we generally don’t write about it. Who wants to spend days in the mountains testing crappy gear!