Improve your ice climbing with this season’s best new gear.
The cold temps and shorter daylight hours signal the arrival of winter and the beginning of the ice and mixed climbing season. Rather than suffering through another pitch with those outdate tools and worn out shell, consider updating your winter climbing arsenal with season’s newest kit.
Women’s Alibi Jacket – $289
Few women’s jackets offer the weather protection and climbing performance found in the Alibi Jacket.
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Using a durable weatherproof fabric on the hood and shoulders and warm soft shell panels in the body, the Alibi delivers almost unrivalled weather protection, breathability and freedom of movement. This smart combination of materials allows the Alibi to excel in the broad range of hostile conditions climbers often encounter during winter climbing. OR’s unique hem-to-pit zippers provide unmatched venting while still protecting the core from the elements. Throw in a helmet-compatible hood, a built-in helmet liner and draft-stopping wrist gaskets, and climbers have one of the best winter jackets available. Climbers can pay more for other jackets but they won’t get better performance. Highly recommended.
Baturo EVO – $579
Built with an integrated gaiter and multiple layers of insulation, the Batura EVO boots are ideal for cold winter conditions. The integrated gaiter keeps feet dry, adds warmth and opens with an easy-to-use asymmetrical waterproof zipper. For extra protection against frigid winter temps, the inner boot is insulated with an expanded PE foam and a layer of polyamide. Sportiva adds a shock absorbing midsole for comfort on long approaches, while the thermoplastic polyurethane stiffener ensures crampon compatibility. Perhaps a bit too specialized for mild weather mountaineering, the Batura EVO is perfect for challenging, technical winter climbing.
CC – $240
Ultra light and designed with input from ice climbing world champion Evgeny Krivosheitsev, the CC crampons excel on steep mixed terrain. Mono point construction provides precision and security on ice and rock while the built-in heel spur helps tame free-standing pillars. Perfect for futuristic M-grade routes.
Diez Jacket – $300
The North Face
With its 800-fill down and a featherweight Pertex shell, the Diez jacket provides extra insulation during long belays. The highly compressible low-bulk construction ensures the Dieze take up little space in an overstuffed pack while the slick face fabric glides easily under extra layers.
Ergo – $350
With its radical bend and immense bulge-accommodating clearance, the Ergo makes no pretences about where it belongs – steep, mixed ground. The adjustable grip accommodates different hand sizes and glove combinations, offers multiple matching options and minimizes tools shift on tenuous hooking placements. The addition of an upper Trigrest hand rest provides a third griping position high on the shaft which allows for longer reaches. A specialized tool for extreme climbing.
Express Ice Screw – $60-75
A tapered friction-fighting tube, razor sharp teeth and an easy-to-use crank handle make the Express Ice Screws some of fastest-placing ice protection on the market. Five sizes reduce the need for tie-offs and a two clip-in point hanger keeps hanging stances organized and clutter-free. The standard.
Extreme Hybrid Pants – $379
While softshell climbing pants are a good choice during milder conditions, they simply don’t provide enough protection for colder winter climbing. Luckily, Mammut’s Extreme Hybrid pants combine the freedom-of-movement and breathability prized in softshells with the total weather protection that only hardshells can provide. Mammut does this by using Gore Tex in the butt and knee areas and a Schoeller softshell fabric in the rest of the pant. This construction adds valuable weather protection without compromising movement or breathability. Other useful features include crampon/ski edge protection patches on the inside of the lower legs, built-in gaiters, a harness-compatible waist and waterproof zippers. One of the best cold-weather climbing pants.
Jasper CR3 – $85
When climbing harnesses expanded to accommodate extra winter layers, the tie-in point, padding and gear loops rotate around the waist resulting in less comfort and inaccessible gear. The Jasper CR3 overcomes this problem with a sliding padding system that ensures the harness remains centred regardless of what layering system the climber is wearing. CAMP lines the interior with a soft, mesh fabric and covers the exterior with an abrasion resistant nylon. Fully adjustable and with four gear loops, Jasper CR 3 is ideal for winter ice or summer rock.
Pro GTX – $450
By combining a number of innovative features, Scarpa’s newest boot delivers exceptional steep ice performance while maintaining comfort on the approach. The hybrid fabric upper is light, durable, and thanks to the Gore-Tex liner, waterproof and breathable. Borrowing from its climbing shoe designs, Scarpa includes a lightly tensioned heel rand which prevents heel lift when frontpointing. For improved mobility, the Jorasses Pro GTXs lacks any movement-robbing hardware and excess material in the critical forward-flexing ankle area. Scarpa however saves the biggest performance improvements for the midsole and outsole. The Jorasses Pro GTX use a proprietary sole construction that brings the climber’s foot closer to the ground for greater precision on technical terrain while reducing trail impact-forces by more than 15 percent. Add full coverage rands, a very grippy Total Traction outsole and impeccable Italian craftsmanship, and climbers have one of the best and most versatile winter climbing boots available.
With ice-climbing’s almost mandatory early morning starts, most climbers require an extra dose of caffeine to get out the door. Unfortunately, sitting around the kitchen enjoying another cup of freshly brewed coffee only ensures a late start. Luckily, the Kaze allows climbers to take an extra dose of liquid-brain with them on the drive to the climb. The insulated stainless steel mug keep liquids warm for up to eight hours and a push button stopper allows sipping without removing the lid. Climbers can also bring warm coffee or tea to the base by simply removing the handle and converting the Kaze into a conventional vacuum bottle – smart.
Lightning Axis Snowshoes – $255 + $55 for optional tails
Postholing to the base of an ice route should not be the crux of the climb. Skiing in with alpine touring gear has been the traditional solution, but this option is overkill on shorter approaches. Thankfully, the MSR Lightning snowshoes solve this dilemma by providing plenty of flotation in a durable lightweight snowshoe. An innovative laterally adjustable binding ensures stumble-free walking regardless of toe-out and toe-in gaits while the SpeedLock closure provides security and control with a one-time setup process. For traction on icy slopes, the Lightning Axis comes with aggressively toothed side rails and a pivoting binding crampon.
Lightning Axis Snowshoes – $255 + $55 for optional tails
With the addition of insulation and an elasticized gaiter, Mammut has winterized the Mamook GTX making it suitable for serious ice and alpine climbing. A sophisticated combination of synthetic materials minimizes weight while the asymmetric lacing with a three-zone lacing system delivers control during technical climbing. A technical ice climbing boot that’s light enough for long approaches, hard mixed or vertical ice.
Microlight Alpine Jacket – $280
Weighing just 350 g and stuffing into its own pocket the Microlight Alpine Jacket is the perfect just-in-case insulation for long days in the mountians. A Pertex shell fabric shed winds and slides easily under other layers while the 750 fill-power down keeps the core warm with minimal bulk. A heat-saving hood and two hand warmer pockets add function to this minimalist jacket.
Motive Glove – $160
With its durable Pittards leather palm and Gore-Tex waterproof/breathable liner, the Motive glove is an excellent choice for ice climbing. The glove’s supple construction ensures a secure grip on ice tools and ropes, while compression molded padding on the back of the hand provides impact protection during missed tool swings. Outdoor Research adds 100 g of Primaloft insulation for extra warmth when the temperatures are dropping.
Nomic – $320
This season the Nomic received some updates making it an even more versatile tool for difficult ice and mixed climbing. The most noticeable differences include the addition of an improved ergonomic handle that is adjustable for different hand sizes, two new picks (dry and ice) and the ability to add a hammer or adze as well as optional head weights.
Punisher Glove – $89
This lightly insulated glove is a good option for milder conditions where dexterity is more important than warmth. Black Diamond uses Pittards leather in the palm for extra durability and adds a BDry insert for water protection and breathability.
Quark – $260
The new Quark is one of the finest waterfall ice tools available. The new Quark is slightly shorter for better swing balance without comprising any of the original tool’s clearance. The adjustable Trigrest hand rest allows for easy and secure hand matches and can be moved without tools. This is a solid ice climbing tool for technical mountaineering and pure ice climbing.
ROM Jacket – $175
In an effort to provide greater weather protection, some softshell jackets have become as stiff and bulky as the hardshells they were supposed to replace. Realising this, Marmot created the soft and supple ROM jacket. Made with a lighter weight softshell material and stripped of unnecessary features, the ROM won’t restrict the complex movements required during hard winter climbing. Marmot adds more breathable venting panels on the sides, which improve comfort during long aerobic efforts and minimizes bulk under a harness. This is a great jacket for ice and mixed routes in milder conditions.
Shiru – $21 for 350 ml, $28 for 500 ml
Few things are more comforting after a long day ice climbing than a bowl of hot soup. With the Shiru, climbers can now bring that core-warming goodness with them, leave it in the car and be assured of a warm meal after a long day of ice cragging. A wide opening accommodates most spoons and encourages easy sipping of any remaining liquids.
Snow Anchors – $20 for 24″, $30 for 36″
Omega’s new Snow Anchors provide reliable protection in challenging conditions. Extruded from light but strong 6000-series aluminium, the Snow Anchors feature an anchor-shaped cross section for extra holding power and a bevelled spike for easy placement even in rock hard snow. Unlike other snow anchors, these units have rounded edges prevent the tearing of clothing, packs or ropes. Available 24 and 36 inch lengths.
Specialist Glove – $125
The Specialist uses a unique EKS fleece that insulation on the palm that supposedly generates its own heat for increased comfort in cold conditions without the traditional bulk of winter gloves. More conventional features include durable yet supple goat leather palms and EVA padding for protection against bashed knuckles.
Uplink Jacket – $120
The Uplink’s innovative stretch-baffle construction ensures the core-warming Primaloft insulation stays close to the body without restricting the range of movement necessary during technical climbing. Lightweight and highly packable, the Uplink is ideal insulation for cold weather climbing. Excellent insurance against unexpected drops in temperature
Variant Jacket – $140
This is one of the most function-driven clothing pieces to come around in a long time. Using a lightly insulated front panel and Powerstretch fleece in the rest of the jacket, the Variant does an incredible job of delivering warmth where it’s needed most without restricting breathability or freedom of movement and best of all, it really works. This should be mandatory kit for any winter climber.
Zip Duffle – $150 – $175
Transporting bulky climbing equipment just got easier thanks to SealLine’s Zip Duffle. Built with stitch-free welded seams, burly waterproof fabric and a waterproof zipper, the Zip Duffle keeps ropes, clothing and other gear dry during travel. The uncluttered exterior minimizes hang-ups at airport luggage carousels while the easily accessed handles make carrying heavy climbing loads a bit less painful.
Zonal Jacket – $200
Unlike traditional jacket that offer the same level of insulation across the body, the Zonal uses various levels of insulation and breathability depending on where it’s most needed. The core and arms get extra warmth while the sides and lower back are covered with a stretchy, highly breathable fleece panels. The construction makes sense and creates a jacket that keeps climbers warm while minimizing overheating. A wind resistant shell provides increased weather protection and the Thermic Micro insulation keeps working even in damp conditions.