Up the Frozen Mountain, Ice Climbers Brave the Cold

Under the veil of winter, climbers must cover their fingers and attack the mountain with axes.

Richard Green, a U senior studying anthropology, applied his mountaineering skills to the ice of Little Cottonwood Canyon earlier this January.

Ice climbers are often those who scale the rocks in summer; winter challenges are different.

“Rock climbs are the same the next day,” Green said. “An ice climb can change depending on temperature and snowfall.

“It’s sort of an escape from reality. You don’t have to think about school or work. You’re mostly worried about what you’re doing at that moment,” he said.

The ice is generally better in the morning. As the day warms up, the ice softens and weakens its hold on the hollow screws inserted for protection.

Over a patch of thin ice, Green muttered, “Sometimes I wonder why I do this.”

But according to him, the sport is gaining popularity.

“A lot of routes get crowded, especially in Little Cottonwood,” he said.

The conditions are not the sole prohibiting factor for ice climbing?gear carries a hefty price tag. However, for those on a budget, the Outdoor Recreation Program rents helmets, axes and shoe spikes.