Over the last few years, women have proved themselves to be a formidable force of skilled ice climbers and mountaineers. They now make up the ranks of some of the best climbers in the world, and their accomplishments are finally being recognized on the public stage. If you're a woman who's interested in pushing your skills and courage to the limit, there's no better time than now to get into ice climbing.
The first thing to understand about ice climbing is that it's an extreme sport. No matter how stable the ice may appear to be, there is always a level of danger that must be considered. The proper guides and equipment should make the ascent as safe as possible, but remember to prepare yourself mentally for the challenges ahead. The exhilaration you'll experience when you summit a frozen waterfall comes at the cost of risk, so do your homework and be prepared!
The second thing to understand is that ice climbing is a sport unique unto itself. If you have past experience with rock climbing it will help you adapt quickly to some of the equipment, but essentially the two sports are very different. Rather than using your hands and feet to move you up the ice, you'll be using ice axes and crampons. It requires an entirely new learning curve, even if you already are a skilled rock climber.
The third element concerns your clothing. Warm and flexible clothing is best, and you should be comfortably dressed from head to toe. Fingers and toes can become numb during the excitement of the climb, so make sure to have equipment that would keep you warm even if you were sitting motionless in a blizzard. You'll also need ice boots, as summer hiking boots are not compatible with crampons.
The fourth element concerns your fitness. You don't have to be in the best shape of your life, but an average level of fitness is recommended. Some of the areas you will be climbing in can be as high as 8,000 feet, and along with the physical exertion of the climb, it's easy to become winded. Needless to say, a healthy body is the best tool you can have while ice climbing.
The final piece of advice is to hire a professional guide for your first experience. A professional will guide you to the summit in the safest way possible, provide you with the necessary equipment, and show you some of the most beautiful climbs your area has to offer. In an extreme sport like ice climbing, hiring a professional for your first time is the only way to go.
The rising tide of female talent ascending frozen waterfalls and ice crested cliff faces has paved the way for women adventurers from all over the world.