Weekend Whipper: Ice Climber Decks In Spite of Dad’s Advice

This article originally appeared on Climbing

Readers, please send your Weekend Whipper videos, information, and any lessons learned to Anthony Walsh, awalsh@outsideinc.com.

Winter may be over but it's not too late to reinvest in proper ice-climbing technique. Our number one tip? Don't deck while wearing (and holding) knives.

Several years ago, during Forrest Pailes's second season of ice climbing, he lined up for a lead on Buttermilk Falls (WI 3-4) in New York's Catskills. He was belayed by a friend while his dad proudly filmed.

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Now, Pailes did some things right before ultimately falling off. When his father told him his crampons weren't well placed, he kicked out a better stance. And when Pailes was ready to place an ice screw he did so at hip height to maximize the arm strength at his disposal.

But Pailes, as you can imagine, also grievously erred.

He was locked off too high on his ice tool--which produced an unnatural outward force--and the tool wasn't buried deep enough into the ice, either. Newer ice leaders will do well to place their tools deeper than they have to before learning what they can get away with. A final tip: for low clips while wearing chunky winter gloves, try clipping your quickdraw to the rope first and then the ice screw. It requires far less dexterity.

Pailes reports that he was uninjured in the fall and has since become a more fluid, competent ice climber. We're glad to hear!


Happy Friday, and be safe out there this weekend. Thanks to Andrew Pittman of DirtbagTV for the video.

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