Friday, June 14, 2013

Book Review: "The Art of Ice Climbing"

The first ice climbing book that makes a significant impact since Will Gadd's Ice & Mixed Climbing is now available in English.

The Art of Ice Climbing, published by the small Chamonix alpine equipment manufacture, Blue Ice, is a much needed addition to the resources available to both experienced and aspiring ice climbers.

Here's an interview with one of the book's authors, Jerome Blanc-Gras on Epic TV.


I first heard of the book when it came out in it's French version more than a year ago. It looked so good at that time that I almost bought it despite my very poor French. I'm glad I waited for the English translation.

The book has a lot of unique content, great (and inspirational) photos and short interviews with international figures who aided in the development of alpine and waterfall ice climbing.

The gear maintenance section has an excellent step-by-step description of how to get beat up ice screws back into service. Along the same lines, is the section on sharpening and customizing picks for ice and dry-tooling. Complete with an explanation of how the various surface angles affect performance.

The last third of the book deals with such issues as commitment, choosing your line, overcoming difficulties (cruxes), and overall safety.

In the safety section the authors develop a system of planning and evaluation with a check-list type process. Finally there are four case studies of real-life accidents/situations in which the climbers behavior is evaluated.

I think this book, along with Jeff Lowe's Ice World and Gadd's previously mentioned Ice & Mixed Climbing, forms the third part of a trilogy of books about ice climbing that all alpine ice and mixed climbers should read. Many thanks to Jerome Blanc-Gras and Manu Ibarra for the book and to Blue Ice for pubishing an English translation.

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