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Winter Climbing: Terminology

Winter Climbing: Terminology

P1010379When starting out climbing it can be incredibly confusing trying to decipher what people mean when making reference to the types of climbing you can do outside, in winter. Here we try to demystify some of the terms.



Winter Climbing can be defined as climbing, in winter conditions, using specialist equipment such as crampons and ice axes. Confusingly it is also an umbrella term that covers Winter Mountaineering, Mixed Climbing and Ice Climbing, which, in turn, are terms used in their own right too. You see what I mean about confusing!

P1010358Winter climbing is different to ‘summer’ climbing, not only due to the season in which it is practiced, but also because it requires a more diverse set of skills and a different knowledge base to single pitch trad climbing, sport climbing and bouldering. Winter climbing often involves navigation, varying degrees of visibility, long walk-ins to the climb, ascent/descent in darkness and winter-specific equipment such as ice axes, crampons and ice screws. It can vary from a Grade I winter climb, which might involve an easy route requiring basic skills on a snow slope of up to 45 degrees with a straightforward descent, with the steep section only taking a couple of hours at most, compared to a sustained Grade V multi-pitch route with consistently high technical demands and few options for resting, requiring good technical knowledge.

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Photos: Thanks to CG

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