ICE CLIMBING

IN THE BALANCE

Photography: Thomas Senf

The days of chopping steps up icy slabs seem far removed from the radical overhanging mixed routes and slender ice pillars of today, as much a relic of history as wool knickers and wooden-shafted piolets. But while standards in difficulty and equipment have risen dramatically, the basic premise has remained: to climb beautiful, natural lines of frozen water. Many of these columns, curtains, smears and daggers can only be negotiated thanks to invention and innovation in technical climbing gear—a cutting edge we at Black Diamond have honed for over 50 years.