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ice belays climbing
By Carlo Gabasio, Mountain Guide Tike Saab.

During winter months many climbers turn their attention to ice climbing. Words such as verglas, cauliflower and brittle ice immediately spring to mind, but while this jargon is quickly learnt, true understanding of these different types of ice comes about only after much time climbing outdoors, acquiring knowledge.

Experience counts for a great deal and is of vital importance, since the vast majority of ice climbs are “traditional” are need to be equipped with runners and belays. These climbs are distinctly more demanding than pure rock climbs at a crag equipped with bolts and abseil chains.

This short article analyses how to correctly construct belays on ice.

Where to position the belay
Locating the correct place to position the belay is fundamental for the climbers’ safety. The following factors need to be considered:
1- the quality of the ice, so as to guarantee maximum anchor strength
2- the position of the belay, bearing in mind objective dangers (falling rocks or ice) and the line of ascent.

A good belay stance should be on compact ice, at the edge of the icefall and off centre compared to the following pitch so as to avoid falling ice from the lead climber.

Types of belay stance
1 – Semi-mobile ice screw belay
2 – Threaded belay (Abalakoff or Abalakov)

Semi-mobile ice screw belay
Threaded belay (Abalakoff)
ice belays climbing
Ice climbing
photo Roberto Rossi
This article was previoulsy published in Alp Wall 202, by Carlo Gabasio, Mountain Guides Tike Saab.
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