How to Prepare for a Mixed Climb

How to Prepare for a Mixed Climb
The practice of climbing on rock, ice and sometimes snow on the same route is known as mixed climbing. Alpinists often encounter conditions on peaks that call for both rock and ice climbing skills, sometimes within the same pitch. This is a creative sort of climbing; one never knows what terrain they will encounter, what type of protection they will have to place next. Mixed climbing requires climbers to prepare themselves in a variety of disciplines and enables them to go places where those trained in only one discipline are not allowed to go.


Difficulty: Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Mixed climbing rack Helmet Mountaineering boots Crampons Climbing harness Vertical ice axes Rope
  • Mixed climbing rack
  • Helmet
  • Mountaineering boots
  • Crampons
  • Climbing harness
  • Vertical ice axes
  • Rope
Step 1
Get comfortable with the gear you will need for a mixed climb. This includes ice and rock protection. A standard mixed climbing rack consists of 6 to 12 ice screws of varying lengths; a variety of rock protection, such as nuts, hexes and tricams, as well as spring-loaded cams; an assortment of pitons; several quick draws and alpine draws; several long runners or cordelettes; a few load-limiting runners; an ice hook; a V-thread tool; several pieces of tubular webbing or 6- to 8-mm Perlon cord; and a folding knife. Tune your gear before you go. Sharpen your ice picks and crampon points; check all your ropes for cuts, weak spots or fraying.
Step 2
Practice your crampon techniques on ice climbs and dry rock. Pay attention to the way you transfer your weight onto your crampons from one foothold to the next. This should be done smoothly as you gradually test your weight on the foothold. Don't twist the crampon around a bunch once you have a hold. As the "Mountaineers: Freedom of the Hills," 7th Ed., says, "With proper technique, you will not scratch the rock and your crampon points will remain sharp for any difficult ice climbing that may lie ahead."
Step 3
Practice your tooling technique on ice and rock. Positioning your picks on rock is much different than thwacking them into ice. Using tools on rock is called dry tooling. The basic moves of hooking ledges, pick camming and tool camming, as well as torquing, matching, stacking and "stein pulling," should be practiced. These can all be reviewed in "The Mountaineers: Freedom of the Hills," 7th Ed., and "Ice and Mixed Climbing: Modern Technique" by Will Gadd.
Step 4
Practice your hand technique on rock. You may often need to put away your ice tool and use your bare hands on rock, just as if you were traditionally rock climbing. Nothing makes perfect like practice, so gear up every chance you have, and if you can't train outside all the time, indoor climbing walls are much better than nothing.
Step 5
Practice placing protection in all sorts of ice and rock. You should be familiar with how to place all types of cams, spring-loaded or not, as well as ice screws. Also, be familiar and practiced at making V-thread anchors in the ice, as well as equalized anchors off ice screws and rock protection.

Article Written By Naomi Judd

Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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