Date: 31st January 2013
I recently received the following email:
“Dear Will, I read your book, and found it quite inspiring and full of good tips. I just wanted to ask you one question. In your book and videos, you recommend place the ice tools near the same vertical line, one higher than the other, and the moving the feet up. As in: tool, foot, foot. tool, foot, foot. I had a couple of ice climbing lessons, and the instructors always recommend: tool, tool, foot, foot. tool, tool, foot, foot. I just wanted to ask you if know why they say it, and what really is the best why to climb (maybe what you recommend is the best way with the modern tools?) Thanks, and keep inspiring us!”
Posted in: Blog
I only have one question: how does Kim pronounce her name? Seriously.
Actually I have another question after finishing your book last night that I’ll as separately.
Thanks for posting this, Will. Do you have any examples of your ‘T’ technique, perhaps a video showing the correct way to do it?
Do you have a video example of good technique?
As I heard Kim herself explain once, if you just replaced the “s” in her name with an “h”, it would be phonetic, “chizmazia”
The triangle technique is bomber, the only way to go!
Here is a short video showing the “T” technique well.
Great post as always Will.
Hey Will good article I do find it funny how climbers take things so literly.Agree 100% about the x and t thing.
I always found that even in the old days first days of season one was doing the X thing but as season and fittness went on one literly starts doing what I call the ICE WALK or what you refere to t stance.As always bud good advice for the new ICE KNIGHTS.Climb on brother-ken
This is a great video from Peak Mountain Guides showing the T-/A-position technique.
As a member of a local ACC section I often take beginners out for their first experience climbing ice.
It’s always interesting to me to see that almost without exception beginners want to use the X stance. Before I get them on the ice I demonstrate T stance and explain why it makes sense to use it. Everyone gets it……until they get on the ice.
I’m curious about why that is. So far the only thing I can think of is that these beginners are not in balance over their feet (or don’t trust their feet) and gravitate towards the X stance because it makes them feel more secure. Until they have to move, that is.
I’m wondering if some drills on easier ice, but only using one tool, would speed up the learning process?
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on all of this stuff. I always point people to this blog site as a useful learning resource.
Good stuff as always Will. Just one clarification I think might be due.. Your countrymen, John Lauchlan and crew at Yamnuska Mtn school were teaching the “A” technique back in the fall/winter of 1980 when I showed up there. “A” likely a better description than a “T” for body postion. John’s term BTW not mine and how he taught it indoors on a chalk board and outdoors on the ice. My take at the time was John and Dwayne adopted the same technique early and just furthered the idea in their season in the alps. Albi, Dwayne, James, Gregg all at least tried to climb withtat technique a majority of the time. Much easier to do now, as you know, using leashless tools.
“In the summer of 1980, with Dwayne Congdon, he represented Canada at the Rassemblement International, a bi-annual event held in Chamonix, France, that attracts two of the best climbers from each country. John and Dwayne succeeded in making the third ascent of the MacIntyre/Coulton Route on the Grande Jorasses, a route that had defeated many of Europe’s top alpinists. John went on to climb the North Face of Les Droites and to solo the Gabbaroux Couloir on Mt Blanc. (among others)
In Canada, ice climbing was one of John’s main interests, and he led the movement towards new routes and bolder styles. His list of first ascents includes Takakkaw Falls, Pilsner Pillar, Slipsteam and Nemesis (the first free ascent).”
Weeping Pillar and Nemesis were done prior to ’80 and done free so I suspect they didn’t adopt much. But the “A” on perfect alpine Neve makes the technique a lot easier to adopt and then transfer that skill to steep water ice.
Thanks for the post Will. Its always great. I had a question though, recently I took an ice climbing class and the instructor taught the A or T or what he called the Y position. He said that you take that position until you get to a bulge, that a bulge is when you put your axes next to each other, hike your hands up to get over the bulge. Thoughts? Thanks again!
[…] you know the basics but want to improve your technique, it is mandatory to check Will’s Gadd article about T technique versus old X technique. Below is Will Gadd climbing with perfect […]
2 things. I am not a novice climber, rock or ice, but don’t have much time to get out in the short ice season, so find myself indeed not trusting, and not finding solid feet. That is when I resort to putting tools side by side – taking care of not placing them on the same chunk – and muscling my way up, committing all the sins Will described. So truly the lack of mileage is key because I slowly improve with more trips out.
But, this is #2, in the video above it is not steep ice by any means. On WI3-low 4 it is a no-brainer to do what the guide shows. When they say steep, it has to be steep, min 5 and above because that’s when I want to use my both arms to get over empty spaces, while if it were rock I would back-step and lock off. Much scarier on ice because it is not styrofoam…
If one wants to show the technique, show it in a fluid motion on steep stuff, then explain during the editing session.
related to Will’s explanation I found this interesting artcile on UK climbing. It explains very detailed the steps how to and how not to climb steep ice.
Thx for the post Will
I disagree with the difference between t and x position. I think that one most learn the x position and after practice the t position. One reason is that you rely on one ice tool at a time. The higher one. A beginer don’t have the knowledge to evaluate iif is higher tool are good. The second is that when the higher tool are not good, you most be able to save your life on the second one. At that moment, you are in a very unbalanced situation…without training. I suspect that the death of a climber in la pomme d’or last year was due to T technique, without enought knowledge.
As you climbed, you learn to place your ice tool ashight as you can to save a swing. If you have a distance of a foot and a half between you two placement and three foot, yo do 2 time more movement. consequence is that you are more tired and less concentrated. Before using the T technique you should be able to climb a grade four with the head of the ice pick at shoulder level of body X posittion.
never forget that the guy climb 20 years with body x position before. doing T position. He asked you to have his knowledge with zero year of training?????
Going to have to disagree. If a beginner is unable to assess a placement, then placing two tools of questionable quality will not save them. Top rope climbing should used to get beginners to understand quality placements not the X-position.
Thanks Foster, helped a lot.
I’m out in Rjukan at the mo and I’ll have to say that the ‘T’ technique is much more efficient than the ‘X’ technique. I tried the ‘X’ technique and I ended up getting tools stuck and I got pumped more.
So my tips for this season’s Rjukan fat ice is long mono points, ‘thumbs up’, herls low and ‘T’. Worked a treat!
I agree, anyone starting out on ice should get plenty of top rope practice. Everyone here in Rjukan is saying exactly that, too. Learn good technique, then lead.
[…] to just achieve subtle improvements and refinements. If you are unfamiliar with X vs A technique, check out Will Gadd’s post here, or this great UKClimbing […]
Will – I have to echo Dane’s observations about early adopters of the T position. Glen Frese, generally acknowledged by Washington ice climbers to be in a class by himself back in the eighties,was teaching what he called the “tripod stance” as early as 1980. At the time, most of us thought he had invented it…
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