Do you enter Instagram contests from time to time? We almost never do. When we saw the one launched by CAMP and Alpine Mag, it still titillated us. A day of initiation to ice climbing, supervised by guides and with the equipment lent by CAMP. Nil has been telling me about ice climbing for months... He dreams of trying it and I thought that I wouldn't like it, that I would be too scared, that I would be too cold.

On tente notre chance et paf ! On gagne une des 14 places mises en jeu. Comme quoi, parfois, ça marche 🙂 Comble de la chance, deux jours avant la date fixée, une seconde place se libère et on peut donc y aller tous les deux. J’avais plus d’excuses quoi…

The site

The location for this day of ice climbing was not revealed until the day before. Not because of teasing on the part of CAMP, but because the conditions were particularly bad that week and icefalls are a bit capricious.

That week, we can say that all the unfavorable conditions were present: 

  • Avalanche risks
  • Rain
  • Unseasonably warm temperatures

Ice climbing relies on one key element: its ephemeral nature. In the days leading up to the meeting, many icefalls fell and others were too exposed to avalanche risk.

Finally, the appointment is fixed at the waterfall school of Notre-Dame-de-la-Gorge in Contamines Montjoie. It's an artificial waterfall outside. When we say "artificial", it's still ice, but a drip drips water along the waterfall to maintain it. For a first contact with the discipline, the spot was nice.

Organization of the day

Appointment at 8:30 am (oops) on the parking lot for contact, distribution of the equipment and security briefing. Equipped from the head to the feet, we go through the 100m which separate us from the waterfall. The ropes are already put, we are going to begin by climbing in moulinette, we shall see after!

Deux guides encadrent la journée, tout le monde a au minimum un peu d’expérience en escalade, donc le matériel d’assurage n’est une découverte pour personne. Tant mieux, on gagne du temps de grimpe 😉

At some point, we are all surprised by the strange light that surrounds us. We feel like we are in a sepia Instagram filter... In fact, that day, the sirocco blows (it's the south wind) and brings with it sand from the Sahara. Our friends in Egypt told us they had a sandstorm. A few hours later, the sand was in the Alps!

Between climbing, belaying, picnic, breaks and chatting, the day goes by fast! It ends around 3:30 pm to give everyone time to go home before the curfew. 

Ulysse Lefebvre, founder of Alpine Mag was there to cover the day. Read the article...

Our impressions

It's really hard!

With Nil, we did a lot of climbing. But after two years of travel and one year of closed gyms, we started to miss some practice. Very quickly, our arms started to stiffen and we regretted our lost climbing physiques...

The handling of the material is rather simple. On the other hand, there is a learning curve in terms of effort management and confidence. When you are used to feeling the rock under your hand or foot, the sensation of the ice axe and crampons on the ice is quite disconcerting. As good beginners, we also had a tendency to tense up on the handles of our ice axes and therefore to tire quickly. 

At the end of the day, we were able to practice the installation of ice pins for belaying and Nil even tried to climb in front. I hadn't had arms for a long time.

The gear

For the occasion, CAMP had put at our disposal :

  • X-Dream ice axes
  • Blade-Runner and Alpinist Pro crampons
  • Rocket Plus ice screws
  • Storm helmets

Since its foundation in 1889 in a small workshop in Premana, in the mountains of Lecco, Italy, CAMP (Concezione Articoli Montagna Premana / Design of Mountain Articles in Premana) has remained a family business, managed today by the 4th generation of the Codega family. 

On our side, we had to bring :

  • A harness
  • Carabiners
  • Belay device
  • An adapted waterproof and warm outfit
  • 2 pairs of gloves, one warm and one thin for climbing
  • Rigid crampon shoes
  • A backpack for our stuff
  • A picnic

Balance sheet

We need to work on our upper body! It's all well and good to have calves of steel but "no arms, no chocolate" !

To rediscover the sensations of the climbing made us really good. We want to try the experience again on bigger stunts.

Une très belle journée, une chouette découverte d’activité, des rencontres au top. On reviendra 😀