Grading in Ice Climbing

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SuperM
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Grading in Ice Climbing

Postby SuperM » Thu May 17, 2012 1:04 pm

Hey guys,

I have never climbed on Ice before and would like to know how the grading works?

I am sure many areas where one could go do Ice Routes more so in SA and Internationally will be seasonal .

With Ice thawing and Re-freezing does that not totaly change the character of the route?

Thus if you climb a certain route and give it a grade, that grade can surely not be the same next season as the original route is 'gone'

Any info is much appreciated

Cheers

:thumright
Super Mario

The Real McCoy
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Re: Grading in Ice Climbing

Postby The Real McCoy » Thu May 17, 2012 2:08 pm

Hey

So to answer your first question of how the grading works. Like with rock there's different grading systems all over the world. In SA a route is given two different grades. The first is in Roman Numerals, Grading I to III, this is a commitment grade of how remote and out there the route is. So for example a route with easy access to the top and bottom right next to a road is given a I, where as a route at Giants Castle that requires a long hard walk in and once you've abseiled in to the route you are commited to either climb out or make a long decent into the Lotheni Valley would be given a III.

The second grade is prefixed WI meaning Water Ice. In SA we climb water ice where other parts of the world you may climb for example "alpine ice" which characteristically is different to water ice.
The system is then numerical. At the moment in SA the hardest ice route that has been lead is WI 5.

The route is graded on how sustained it is overall ( not on it's hardest move like on rock), and how hard it is to place gear. The most tiring thing on an ice route is hanging around trying to get a screw in. So a grade WI 2 would be quite easy, lots of place to rest and well protected. A WI 3 would have short sections of steep ice requiring front pointing but would have places where you could have at least one flat foot when placing gear. WI 4 would start to require you to be on front points in order to place gear. WI 5 is where things start to get exciting, this would have long sustained sections of near vertical ice and would involve an array of techniques.

With regard to routes changing from year to year or even within the same season. Typically on an average year routes in SA do form much the same from year to year so once routes are in condition if you look at the guide book the grade that is shown is generally accurate. Of course we have had years when we've had poor conditions and the routes have been thin making them harder. But we've also had really fat conditions making the climbing a lot easier.

I hope that answers your questions. You can also have a look at Gavin Raubenheimer's website peakhigh.co.za one of the drop down menu's has an explanation of ice climbing in SA.

Chris F
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Re: Grading in Ice Climbing

Postby Chris F » Thu May 17, 2012 3:05 pm

The Real McCoy wrote:Hey

In SA we climb water ice where other parts of the world you may climb for example "alpine ice" which characteristically is different to water ice.


Whereas in Scotland for example it varies from rotten shite to thin verglas.

The Real McCoy
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Re: Grading in Ice Climbing

Postby The Real McCoy » Thu May 17, 2012 3:49 pm

Nice One Chris F :lol:

I must say though I've had some really good trips to Scotland, but the mixed frozen Choss does take some getting used to. :thumleft:

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SuperM
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Re: Grading in Ice Climbing

Postby SuperM » Thu May 17, 2012 4:03 pm

Thank you for the info , very helpful!

I'll check out Gavin's site as well!

:afro:
Super Mario

Chris F
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Re: Grading in Ice Climbing

Postby Chris F » Fri May 18, 2012 11:06 am

The Real McCoy wrote:Nice One Chris F :lol:

I must say though I've had some really good trips to Scotland, but the mixed frozen Choss does take some getting used to. :thumleft:


Yeah, when it good it's great, but whe it's bad it's bloody terrible. Hard to explain the joys of whacking into a lump of good frozen turf to someone who's never experienced it.

Only got a couple of routes done last winter, but got perfect conditions for both!

Tristan
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Re: Grading in Ice Climbing

Postby Tristan » Fri May 18, 2012 12:25 pm

WI grading is considerably 'narrow' - I.E there are, in effect, only 5 relevant grades and thus the spectrum is quite large. Rarely does a given route re-form to such a degree that it warrants a shift in a whole grade...though it does happen (The Loteni Colouir being and eg). There is a fair bit left to the climbers interpretation of conditions and what is "in" or about to fall down.
My experience is that there seems to be a Bell curve in "how hard WI feels" the closer you get to the top end...like WI6 feels soooo much harder than WI5 feels harder than WI4 etc.etc I also cheat though :jocolor:

However you just need to go swing some tools to get an idea 8)


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