Technical Frozen Ice

This ice climbing week is for the more experienced ice climber who wants to make the most of a winter week of climbing in the Alps supervised by a professional UIAGM/IFMGA mountain guide. It consist of a varied week, with tailored skills development and coaching mixed into quality ascents in such celebrated venues as Aosta Valley (Gressoney, Valsavaranche, Cogne), Kandersteg and Vallèe de Freissinières, as well as more remote valleys like Val Travenanzes, Val di Gares and Vallone di Sea. We try to steer clear of overcrowded icefalls to give a safer, more silent and adventurous climbing experience.

The aim of the week is to build on your skills and progress to more technical aspects that will help you to climb more efficiently. We try our best to adjust the level and evolve at a pace which is right for the participants with continuous expert feedback to ensure a fantastic time on, or even inside, the frozen ice formations we encounter. There are even opportunities to learn lead climbing skills for those people interested as we operate in small teams, giving us a great flexibility to climb where the ice is the best and visit areas/routes which are new to you.

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The nights we spend in excellent and cozy mountain hotels, offering high quality meals that satisfy most visitors, sometimes even within walking distance to the ice climbs, a place to dry the wet clothes and to take care of yourself by having a good night’s sleep.

Prerequisite skills
The course is suitable for participants that have had experience of following ice routes of water ice grade four or have previous participated in the Ice Climbing Skills course. Some rock climbing experience is useful and a good level of general fitness is required in order to be able to cope with long days out in a cold environment, both approach and climbing wise.

Of course if you feel you lack some of those experiences or uncertain of your own level, please feel free to contact us. We will do our best to give you the best experience possible.

This course is suitable for the cold mid-winter season and the best period is from late December to late February. However, early season ice can provide many opportunities for great climbing and can be a bit more solitude in most famous venues.

Program for the week
As with all waterfall climbing, in the Alps, the best strategy seems to be to choose objectives that work best with the current weather, ice and avalanche conditions. Rather than choosing some specific climbing objects in advance it is wise to wait until arrival and see what looks particularly good and attractive. The following program is a typical week in Aosta Valley. There might be changes due to weather or snow conditions.

Day 1 Sunday : Arrival day in Gressoney Stafal – Meeting
Arrival day in Gressoney Stafal. The hotel will be available for check in the afternoon and in the evening we have a gathering to discuss the plan for the week. If you want to spend additional days before or after the course please let us know.

Day 2-3 Monday-Tuesday: Valle di Gressoney
The first day you will rehearse all the safety aspects of climbing frozen ice formations in order to give a firm foundation for a safe week’s climbing. It is also important to look at your technical skills, analyzing your climbing technique, coaching when needed and create a plan for the week. We will touch important things such as ice screw placements, racking systems, double rope technique, stances and belays, assessing ice conditions, mixed-climbing techniques and attempt routes at the higher grades. For the second day, still in Valle di Gressoney, we are happy to be very flexible to ensure that we climb where conditions are best and attempt the routes most suitable for the course participants. Some examples of routes include:

  • Bonne Annèe (WI4+/5) – steep columns and some cauliflower formations.
  • Linea Verde (WI4) – another steep wall with several exit options.
  • Avanti Savoia (WI5+) – steep cauliflower formations.
  • Opinioni di un Clown (WI5/5+) – it is steep and has thin pillars.
  • Cascata Y (WI/3/4) – a gully with harder or easier finish.
  • Punta Jolanda (WI/4) – a classic ice wall.

Day 4 Wednesday : Valsavaranche/Val di Rhemes
We set off early in the morning by car towards Valsavaranche or Val di Rhemes, it takes about 2 hours, where we together carefully choose what we want to climb, an important way to increase your experience. Some examples of routes include:

  • Antares (WI4) – a classic with some steeper sections.
  • Rovenaud (WI4)- a kind of gully with 60 m pitch.
  • Trip in the Night (WI5) – some spectacular cauliflower formations.
  • Haston Cave (M) – the place of Steve Haston with mixed routes.
  • Fontana dei Desideri (WI4) – long route with a steep wall.

The night we spend in a cozy hotel in the lovely village of Lillaz.

Day 5-6 Thursday-Friday : Valnontey/Valeille
We spend the last two days in Cogne, one of the best places in the Alps, with a long season and 100+ routes at all grades, makes it a perfect place to give you a great experience and increase your ability to climb independently. Some examples of routes include:

  • Sogno di Patagonia (WI4+/5) – spectacular first pitch.
  • Repentance Super (WI5+/6) – one of the most spectacular falls in the valley.
  • Patri (WI3-5) – a super classic route in the valley with a lot of various ice lines.
  • Di Fronte al Tradimento (WI5+) – another cauliflower tube.
  • Stella Artice (WI5) – second pitch offers some hero climbing.
  • Candelabro del Coyote (WI4+) – a steep ice route.
  • Cold Couloir (WI4) – offers 600 m of ice climbing.

On Friday we finish the course with a debrief and personal advices for the future.

Day 7 Saturday : Departure day
Day of departure back home.

Small groups
We only take 1-2 climbers/guide during these weeks. Some weeks there are two guides with independent groups working together. However, we move independently so that the groups can climb different lines.

Personal equipment
The following is an equipment list. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us. Equipment marked with * can be provided by your guide when needed. Experienced climbers will find it best to bring their own tried and tested personal equipment.

• One pair of technical ice axes, such as the Petzl Quark, Nomic or Grivel Matrix.*
• Harness, with adjustable leg loops and gear loops.*
• Crampons, technical model, such as Petzl Dartwin, Lynx or Grivel G14.*
• Helmet*
• Avalanche transceiver*
• Shovel*
• Probe*
• 1 Belay device with a HMS screwgate karbiner.*
• 2 large locking HMS karabiner.*
• 2 Prusik cord.*
• 1 sewn tape sling 240 cm.*
• Poles, adjustable that can be mounted on a backpack.
• Backpack, 35-45 liters, with straps for climbing equipment.
• Ski goggles, “orange/yellow/clear” lenses to be used in windy weather.
• Sunglasses, category 2-4.
• Rigid mountaineering boots, a B3 rated boot is most suitable.
• Gaiters
• Gortex jacket or similar.
• Gortex pants or similar with ventilation possibilities.
• Mountain trousers combination in some softshell fabric or similar.
• Down jacket
• 2 pairs of base layer, synthetic or wool.
• 2 pairs of warm socks.
• Mid layer
• 2 pair of technical climbing gloves
• Insulated gloves, mitten type.
• Warm hat to fit under a helmet.
• Balaclava to protect your face in windy cold weather.
• Head torch with spare batteries.
• Sun block
• Water bottle (1-2 liters), since we do not recommend Camelback systems.
• Small medical kit.

• Professional Mountain Guide authorized by UIAGM/IFMGA.
• All transport during the week.
• Hotel half board accommodation in twin double rooms (a single room can, where possible be arranged at additional cost).
• Top quality ice climbing.

Not included
• Lunch and drinks during the days.
• Personal climbing equipment (see list above).
• Travel to/from designated meeting point.
• Mandatory insurance to cover mountain rescue costs.

Number of days: 5 days climbing, 6 nights accommodation.
Price: Please contact us.

Please use the form if you have any questions or want us to contact you.

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