Suggested Written Unwritten Ice Climbing Responsibilities

A list of ways to make your day on the ice more fun

November 8th, 2019 by | Posted in Ice, News, Profiles |

Ice climbing has become so popular that on any given day, even the once rarely-visited climbs have multiple parties.

The boom in ice climbing is both great and a problem. On one hand, it’s awesome that so many people are experiencing it, on the other its creating some issues on the climbs.

Over the past few weeks, there have a been a number of incidents on climbs in the Canadian Rockies. Without going into detail, the result of one on-climb traffic-jam was a Facebook post with an angry and over-the-top 200+ comment section.

A post shared by Will Gadd (@realwillgadd) on

Over the past few days, climbers and guides have formed a list of five responsibilities ice climbers should keep in mind.

Dubbed the “ice climbing responsibility code” the list aims to remind seasoned climbers and educate new climbers about certain unwritten rules the majority of ice climbers follow.

The list first appeared on Will Gadd’s Instagram, who signed off with “Play safe. Play fair. Play by the Code. Grimper à la mode. Respectez le Code.”

Be Respectful: Everyone deserves a safe and enjoyable experience. Educate others with respect, and be educated with grace. Engage in online forums as you would when face to face. Pack out trash, cigarette butts and excrement (bring a wag bag to popular venues). Urinate away from the base.

Leave a Note: On your dashboard, with route name, party size, and time, to aid others in their decision making at busy venues. Have a backup plan for when others are on your intended route, if it will not accommodate multiple parties.

Parties Ahead Have the Right of Way: It is your responsibility to steer clear of them. Do not climb beneath, or pass others, without clear communication and a plan to which all parties agree. Multipitch climbers have right of way over those only climbing the first pitch of established multipitch climbs.

Expect Falling Ice From Others: Falling ice is inevitable. Climbing beneath others is dangerous to you, and compromises their security. Plan your movement and belay stances to maximize shelter from ice fall, which can bounce far, and in unexpected ways.

Avalanche Rescue Equipment: A transceiver, shovel and probe should be carried by all party members in avalanche terrain, when sufficient snow exists for an avalanche hazard to be present. This may be on the approach, the climb or the descent.

A busy Louise Falls Photo Lyndsay Houston