You, clinging to an icy cliff, gripping your picks and praying for the staunch character of your crampons. Make sure the story ends happily with these ten ice climbing essentials.
Mammut Alpine Rider Helmet
Mammut’s Alpine Rider helmet ($100) is dual certified for skiing and climbing: the earflap liner is insulated but swaps out with summer padding for year-round use.
Mountain Hardwear Seraction Jacket
Mountain Hardwear's Seraction jacket ($600) is a flexible, waterproof-breathable coat of armor purpose-built for ice climbing and alpinism. Stretchy fabric in key spots facilitates unrestricted movement.
Mountain Hardwear Seraction Pants
Don't forget Mountain Hardwear’s Seraction pants ($375) to go with the jacket–also flexible and waterproof-breathable with strategic stretchy spots.
Outdoor Research Contact Gloves
The fast-drying Outdoor Research Contact gloves ($89) have grippy leather palms that stay sticky even when wet. Padded foam knuckles protect fingers.
Petzl Laser Speed and Laser Speed Light Ice Screws
Petzl’s Laser Speed ($60) and Laser Speed Light ($75) ice screws bite into ice with only half a turn thanks to a new tooth design, and the plastic knobs won’t freeze fingers. The difference between the two? The Laser Speed’s tube is steel; the Laser Speed Light’s is aluminum.
Mammut Trion Light Pack
The rolltop alpine Mammut Trion Light pack ($180) may be spartan and lean, but the aluminum butterfly frame carries a full load comfortably. The removable, expandable lid offers overstuffing room for a walk into base camp, then pares down easily for the ascent.
Cassin X-Dream Ice Tool
The pick angle on Cassin’s X-Dream ice tool ($280) can be switched in seconds, and the handle is micro-adjustable to fit thinner or thicker gloves.
Black Diamond Xenos Harness
The waist belt on the Black Diamond Xenos harness ($130) conforms to your body and, even better, doesn’t absorb water, so it won’t freeze. Plus, it has six—not the usual four—ice-clipper slots.
Scarpa Rebel Ultra GTX Boots
Scarpa’s Rebel Ultra GTX ($539) was designed with the help of über-mountaineer Ueli Steck. It’s perhaps the lightest traditional ice boot ever made—running-shoe comfortable, with a carbon-fiber insole for extra stiffness and a bit of insulation for warmth.
Black Diamond Stinger Crampons
With a low-profile toe bail and shorter heel wire, Black Diamond’s Stinger crampons ($210) offer superb contact with slim modern boots. And if you climb often enough to wear out parts, you can swap in new front points ($14).
Next Up: 2013 Women's Climbing Essentials