Steve House: How to Get off an Ice Climb

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In this video, Uphill Athlete co-founder Steve House demonstrates how to get off an ice climb with a naked A-thread rappel anchor. By “A-thread,” he means the rappel will be oriented vertically, not horizontally. And by “naked,” he means he will not leave any sling material behind. The advantage of the horizontal orientation is that if it’s snowing, the snow will slough out the bottom hole. He and Vince Anderson hit upon this solution after descending a lot of routes in storms with their V-threads filling up with snow.

Steve begins by creating the bottom hole. After finding a flat piece of hard, thick ice, he gouges the ice with the screw he will use. Then he screws it into the ice to full depth at an angle of about 45 degrees. He then cleans the area of snow before backing the screw partway out. He doesn’t remove it fully because he will use it to determine where to locate the upper hole.

Once he’s pinpointed the location of that second hole, Steve gouges the ice with the second screw. He then screws it in at an angle guided by the angle of the first screw, looking through the first hole for the teeth of the second screw. His goal is to make the two holes intersect without going too far and gouging the other side of the hole.

He backs the second screw out, all the while making sure to keep the holes as clean as possible. After blowing any snow out of his holes, he feeds one of his ropes into the top hole. He uses his Grivel threader tool to pull it through the bottom hole.

Watch the following video for the full process, including how he manages his ropes for the rappel.

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