Scaling the face of a mountain is a daunting task that requires stable footing and a rock-solid commitment to reach the top.

Ice Climbing World Cup 2011 – Saas Fee Highlights from Matt Pycroft on Vimeo.

But what happens when you’re scaling ice instead of rock? A slippery and already treacherous activity becomes even more dangerous.

There are two forms of ice someone can climb: Alpine ice flows near a mountain range, and usually requires some sort of approach to reach; it’s precipitation ice, and climbers usually scale this type of ice to reach the summit of a mountain. It’s not very different than simple glacier walking. Water ice is the second kind, and it’s usually found on a cliff or outcropping where water flows beneath. The alpine ice is usually a part of a mixed climbing experience and it’s pretty straightforward trekking over a glacier with less technical experience required. That means water ice climbing is where the real challenges await.

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