Guarantee a better pump.
Ice climbing is super fun—at least, that’s what ice climbers will tell you. Of course, those of us who choose to spend hours in the mountains post-holing through snow, dangling from an ethereal substrate, and being cold, wet, and terrified, may not be the most reliable source of information. Regardless, training a bit before going vertical can make the experience a lot more pleasant, and prepare you for a long season of exploring the world-class terrain in Hyalite and all over southwest Montana.
Note: Some of these suggestions are useful, and some are silly. But then, ice climbing is silly, so have fun with it.
Wearing a 20-30 pound pack, hike Baldy 2-3 times per week at a pace that allows you to hold a conversation.
Optional: To simulate winter climbing approaches, be sure conversation consists exclusively of debates on twin ropes, ice tool design, “that one time,” and the best IPAs.
Sling your tools over a chin-up bar, tree branch, or beam, and simply do as many pull-ups as you can to build arm and grip strength. Can’t do a pull-up? Just use a stool or exercise ball and take as much weight on your arms as possible—soon enough you’ll be free-hanging. Strive for four sets of 80% of your max number.
Optional: Wear a backpack full of useless, wet clothes and frozen water bottles to simulate alpine climbing.
Dead Hang / Core Workout
Hang your tools from a sturdy structure like a hangboard, tree branch, or beam. Holding the grips, with your arms slightly bent, and shoulders relaxed and back, pull your knees up to one elbow then the other. Do six to eight reps over three to four sets.
Optional: To add realism, route an ice-cold garden hose down your neck while completing your reps.
Secure a stepladder to the wall. Hook your left tool on a rung that positions you with left arm straight, legs bent, and right arm free. Pushing with your right leg and using the left arm to pull your body into the wall, lunge your right arm high and hook a high rung for one second, and then return to rest. Complete five to 10 reps per arm.
Optional: Enlist friends to drop fist-sized pieces of ice on your head every time you move.