The Physics of Ice Climbing

      "While so many adventure sports in the GoPro era seem to exist for the sake of spectacle, ice climbing remains a practice of deliberation. It's eerie, slow, and beautiful—a quiet sport of ascending glistening chandeliers." -Michael Byrne

      What started out as a necessity for mountaineers to ascend challenging peaks, ice climbing has evolved into it's own elegant and complex sport. Adventurers and thrill seekers alike brave the dangerous frozen waterfalls ultimately for one reason: to get to the top.

      It is unknown when ascending frozen waterfalls came about, but it wasn't until 1908 when the modern proponents of the sport began to take shape when Oscar Eckenstein invented the first 10-point crampons. Since then, gear innovation has evolved ice climbing, making it much safer, and much easier to push the limits.

      Surprisingly, compared other types of climbing gear, there has been very little research outside of manufacturing. In this website, we can look at the different types of forces and other types of physics related to ice climbing.

A project for Physics 212 by David Woo

Tristan Sayre, Ice Climbing Guru, circa 1902Physics is concerned with nature and energy and stuff. Ice climbing is done in nature and takes energy. Here is a photo of Tristan Sayre after sending WI9.