5 Tips for Better Footwork on Ice

After a day of climbing, are your toes black and blue? Are your knees throbbing in pain? Most ice climbers find this to be true. Often, a few simple tweaks can alleviate the pain.


1. Be sure you have the right crampon for the job.
Choose a crampon designed for vertical ice climbing. A strap-on crampon designed for snow/glacier travel will work for water ice climbing. However, the front and secondary points typically will not be appropriately positioned and will eliminate the ability to stand on vertical ice. Having the right tool for the job will make everything easier.


2. Look at your feet.
If you look at your feet when placing them on the rock or ice, precision will follow. If you look at your feet each time you move them, you will be less likely to bash your knee or kick your leg.


 Ice climbing footwork
3. Hinge from the knee.
There is no need to get a full body wind up. Hinging at the knee will give you the natural momentum needed to sink the crampon. The ergonomic action will make placing the crampon easier.


ice climbing footwork
4. Flex your toes toward your shin before kicking the crampon into the ice.
Like kicking a soccer ball. The flex of your muscles will position your foot and your front points to hit the ice. If you find your toes are sore after climbing, be sure to overemphasize this motion so that your crampon lands squarely in the ice.


5. Trust your feet.
If you are not satisfied with the placement, kick your foot again. Take your time to be sure your feet are stable.  Footwork will be the key to success on any climb.
Ice climbing footwork

Which Ice Climbing Clinic Is Best For You?

If you have the following questions regarding our ice climbing clinics, you are not alone.

  • Ice ClimbingWhat if I don’t have any gear, or experience in ice climbing?
  • How am I going to stay out all day and not get cold?
  • What if I am not fit enough?
  • What if I haven’t climbed in a while and can’t climb as well as I used to?
  • What if I am afraid of heights?
  • What if I am placed in a group of women that climb better than me?
  • What if I want to learn to lead?

All of our Ouray-based Ice Climbing Clinics are for all levels, you will be placed in groups of women with similar experience, the guide-to-guest ratio is 4:1 so the instruction is tailored to you, and we have demo gear and clothing.  Which course you choose is more a matter of time and expense.  Obviously, the longer the course, the more you will learn, but our four day Complete is just as suitable for a beginner as it is for an advanced climber and vice-versa.

If you are interested in an adventure and learning more about multi-pitch climbing in the backcountry, then Cody or Iceland are just for you.  These clinics are for those who know the basics and are ready to learn to be more efficient as a follower on a multi-pitch climb.  These clinics are also for those who already lead and want to observe a guide’s decision process regarding choosing the objective, gear selection, route finding, weather and snow analysis, and efficient climbing and descent strategies.

As your goals change, we are here to help you reach the next level and our courses are designed to optimize that experience.  Join us!