What equipment do you need for an icefall expedition?
When you're on an ice expedition, it's really important to take the subject of equipment seriously. You have to be able to rely on it at all times. Otherwise, your ice adventure will very quickly become a hazard. To help you prepare for your expedition in ice fallWe've put together an article summarising the essential equipment you need for ice climbing.
Crampons are one of the most important pieces of equipment for ice climbing.
To choose them, you need to know the terrain you'll be venturing into.
If you're going onto icy terrain, we recommend models with a single front tooth, as they will penetrate the ice more easily and more deeply. However, if you're going over soft ground where there's still a lot of snow, crampons with two front teeth may be more appropriate.
As well as crampons, ice axes are also a major item on the list of equipment to take with you when climbing crystal walls.
An ice axe is a kind of pickaxe with a handle that gives you a good grip. Once you're on the waterfall, you'll use the ice axe to pierce the ice with a firm, sure grip to move forward. When it comes to ice axes, we advise you to test them before setting off on your expedition, as not all handles are suitable for all hands.
Helmets are a MUST for ice climbing.
It's vital to have a climbing helmet, because it must be able to offer you good protection against falling icicles and the like. When you buy or hire one, make sure you answer these questions with a "yes":
- Does a helmet fit like a glove on your head?
- Does the helmet still fit properly on your head when you're wearing a cap?
- Isn't the helmet too flat to fulfil its protective function?
The harness must be perfectly adapted for an ice excursion. It is therefore advisable to test the climbing harness beforehand in full gear. Bear in mind that all equipment loops must be easy to reach.
For the rope, you have 2 choices:
Single ropes are suitable for most types of ice climbing. We recommend a length of between 50 and 80 metres, as this is ideal in most cases. In difficult terrain, double ropes are more of an option.
We advise you to always pay attention to the impregnation of your ropes, as they always suffer a little on the glacier. Before climbing, we advise you to check whether the impregnation is still stable or whether it would be better to use a new rope.
Clothing and extras
As you've already noticed, we're obviously warmer when we're climbing. But you should never underestimate the cold of ice. And even less so the chill after making an effort. Don't worry, it's entirely possible to avoid this by simply having the right clothes. We advise you to opt for waterproof clothing (for obvious reasons) as well as technical sportswear.
As well as clothing, we recommend that you take hiking poles, gaiters and avalanche transceiver equipment with you. These will come in very handy when approaching the terrain.
Nota Bene: gaiters will not only prevent snow from penetrating but will also protect your legs from damage caused by crampons.
Looking for an introduction to ice climbing?
At the end of January, we're organising an introduction to ice climbing with DiscoveRent. For one week, you'll be discovering ice climbing with Jean in the wild Pellice valley in Italy. And the good news is that we'll be taking care of all the equipment 😀 You can find all the information about this expedition at on this page.