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ICE CLIMBING | A deep look at this specialty

One of the most fascinating, challenging and difficult disciplines of mountaineering is ice climbing, a specialty that consists of ascending, using crampons and ice axes as climbing tools, icefalls, couloir, seracs and ice gullies to high altitudes. Securing the route is carried out using specific ice screws.

The progression on the ice route takes place with the climber facing the wall, front, advancing upwards using the ice axes to get up and then the crampons to stabilize the acquired position. The use of ice-specific axes (shorter and curved than those previously used in the mountains) has overcome the old technique of digging small steps for ascent, allowing climbers to trace routes on much steeper and more complex walls compared with traditional mountaineering. This technique of use of ice axes is known by the French term piolet-traction (axe-traction).

The evolution of materials, not just the ice axes, has revolutionized the specialty in recent years. In fact, even the introduction of crampons (and the evolution of their hooking to the boot, much safer and more practical now) with frontal peaks has been a decisive propellant for the affirmation of the frontal progression; previously, the climber faced the sides sideways, mountain side, with a single ice axe and with crampons provided with spikes only on the side, which was used to grip the point of maximum inclination of the wall, with a flexion of the ankle. A technique that in practice no longer exists.

The difficulty of ice climbing follows the Canadian scale and the Water Ice (WI) scale. Moreover, it is also possible to evaluate the routes with the criteria of mountaineering difficulty, which take into account length, exposure and slope.

From our mountaineering collection, the 4001 GTX boot is the ideal boot to tackle icefalls and more generally for all ice climbing, thanks to excellent technical characteristics, low weight, safety in the use with crampons and to the perfect construction to also practice the paths of approach to the place of ascent.

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