I had the fortune of teaching a Novice Ice clinic at the Ouray Ice Festival this year on behalf of Millet. While I was incredibly nervous beforehand, it turned out to be extremely fun. My clinic was filled with a great group of climbers (they were rock stars and so positive) and it forced me to take a step back and understand why I do certain movements when I ice climb so that I could simply communicate the basics of form to those that may just be starting out on the ice.
Why do you push your hips into the ice when you stand up? Ah yes, it keeps your center of balance into the ice (not to mention taking the weight off your arms), distributes weight evenly over your feet, and also helps keep all your front points engaged. Why do you keep your tools in front of you above your center of mass? Because “chicken winging” throws you off balance with no room to move.
There is nothing better as an instructor than watching the progression of your group from one lap to the next. Seeing the smile on their faces as they come to understand, and actually feel, why you are telling them to do things like position themselves under their tools in a triangle and keep their feet nice and level.
I was privileged to learn technical ice climbing from some of the best guides in the world through Chicks with Picks and Sarah Hueniken’s Women’s Ice Camps up in Canada. Years spent progressing through the courses gave me a great foundation to build on. No, I may never be an M14/WI7 climber or win climbing competitions, but it feels good to be able to pass on basic knowledge and hopefully inspire someone to learn more about and enjoy participating in a sport I truly love.
During the Ice Fest and for most of my time climbing in Ouray during January, I wore the following Millet pieces.
Trilogy WDS Hoodie Jacket ($320): Made from 3-Layer Warm Grid Windstopper, this windproof and highly water resistant softshell jacket features a midweight grid fleece lining for extra warmth. Two hand warmer pockets are placed high enough out of the way of your harness and the quick access chest pocket is big enough to store an iPhone 6. Preformed elbows mean you can swing with no restrictions and the helmet compatible hood doesn’t choke you when you look up.
Heel Lift Down Hoodie ($230): Incredibly lightweight, this down jacket makes a great belay jacket for multi-pitch climbs or a midlayer for those extra cold days. Featuring a Pertex Quantum Ultra Light shell, the jacket if stuffed with 700-fill down. The internal zippered pocket is a good place to store your camera or phone when you don’t want the battery to die.
Monterosa Pant ($135): These slim fitting, softshell pants are lined with fleece for extra warmth. Cuff guards protect the fabric from the inevitable errant crampon, while preformed knees mean you can kick and “get scrunchy”, as Conrad Anker likes to say, to your heart’s content. Inner gaiters help to keep snow out of your boots on deep approaches.