Front pointing

Last updated
Front pointing on a steep ice slope Crampon.JPG
Front pointing on a steep ice slope

Front pointing is a technique used to ascend moderate to steep ice slopes in mountaineering and ice climbing. Also referred to as the German technique, [1] it relies on kicking the "front-points" of specialized ice climbing crampons to embed them in the ice and allow vertical ascent. While extremely secure in sound ice on steep grades, it is not appropriate on moderate grades, where the traditional technique of "flat-footing" (French technique) is used. [1]

A typical technical ice-climbing crampon has 14 points. Single-pointed "monospikes" are also made for front-pointing vertical ice.

All "front-point" crampons are rigid "step-in" style, with a locking cam-action lever on their heel to securely attach them to a technical mountaineering boot's lug. In addition to being more secure, a rigid crampon is also easier on the calf muscles climbing steep ice.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Climbing</span> Activity to ascend a steep object

Climbing is the activity of using one's hands, feet, or other parts of the body to ascend a steep topographical object that can range from the world's tallest mountains to small boulders. Climbing is done for locomotion, for sporting recreation, for competition, and is also done in trades that rely on ascension; such as rescue and military operations. Climbing is done indoors and outdoors, on natural surfaces, and on artificial surfaces.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mountaineering</span> Sport of mountain climbing

Mountaineering, mountain climbing, or alpinism, is a set of outdoor activities that involves ascending mountains. Mountaineering-related activities include traditional outdoor climbing, skiing, and traversing via ferratas that have become sports in their own right. Indoor climbing, sport climbing, and bouldering are also considered variants of mountaineering by some, but are part of a wide group of mountain sports.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Climbing wall</span> Artificial rock climbing wall

A climbing wall is an artificially constructed wall with grips for hands and feet, usually used for indoor climbing, but sometimes located outdoors. Some are brick or wooden constructions, but on most modern walls, the material most often used is a thick multiplex board with holes drilled into it. Recently, manufactured steel and aluminum have also been used. The wall may have places to attach belay ropes, but may also be used to practice lead climbing or bouldering.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grade (climbing)</span> Degree of difficulty of a climbing route

In rock climbing, mountaineering, and other climbing disciplines, climbers give a grade to a climbing route or boulder problem, intended to describe concisely the difficulty and danger of climbing it. Different types of climbing each have their own grading systems, and many nationalities developed their own, distinctive grading systems.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Scrambling</span> Walk up steep terrain involving the use of ones hands

Scrambling is a mountaineering term for ascending steep terrain using one's hands to assist in holds and balance. It is also used to describe terrain that falls between hiking and rock climbing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Crampons</span> Traction device for ice-climbing

A crampon is a traction device that is attached to footwear to improve mobility on snow and ice during ice climbing. Besides ice climbing, crampons are also used for secure travel on snow and ice, such as crossing glaciers, snowfields and icefields, ascending snow slopes, and scaling ice-covered rock.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ice axe</span> Winter mountaineering tool

An ice axe is a multi-purpose hiking and climbing tool used by mountaineers in both the ascent and descent of routes that involve snow, ice, or frozen conditions. Its use depends on the terrain: in its simplest role it is used like a walking stick, with the mountaineer holding the head in the center of their uphill hand. On steep terrain it is swung by its handle and embedded in snow or ice for security and an aid to traction. It can also be buried pick down, the rope tied around the shaft to form a secure anchor on which to bring up a second climber, or buried vertically to form a stomp belay. The adze is used to cut footholds, as well as scoop out compacted snow to bury the axe as a belay anchor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Glossary of climbing terms</span> For rock climbing and mountaineering

Glossary of climbing terms relates to rock climbing, mountaineering, and to ice climbing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ice climbing</span> Activity of ascending ice formations

Ice climbing is the activity of ascending inclined ice formations. Usually, ice climbing refers to roped and protected climbing of features such as icefalls, frozen waterfalls, and cliffs and rock slabs covered with ice refrozen from flows of water.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ski mountaineering</span> Skiing discipline

Ski mountaineering is a skiing discipline that involves climbing mountains either on skis or carrying them, depending on the steepness of the ascent, and then descending on skis. There are two major categories of equipment used, free-heel Telemark skis and skis based on Alpine skis, where the heel is free for ascents, but is fixed during descent. The discipline may be practiced recreationally or as a competitive sport.

The term "Trekking Peak" is a commonly misunderstood colloquial term which may refer to a variety of types of peaks in the Himalayan Region. The term is most often associated with Group "B" NMA Climbing Peaks classified by the Nepal Mountaineering Association or easier. Some may use the term "Trekking Peak" to solely describe peaks requiring little to no technical climbing experience. Others may use the term to describe all mountains regulated by the Nepal Mountaineering Association including Group "A" NMA Expedition Peaks which may require considerable difficulties and technical climbing skill.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pitch (climbing)</span> Steep section of a climbing route requiring a rope

In rock climbing and ice climbing, a pitch is a steep section of a route that requires a rope between two belays, as part of a climbing system. Standard climbing ropes are between 50 and 80 metres long, so a pitch is always shorter, between two convenient ledges if possible; longer routes are multi-pitch, requiring the re-use of the rope each time. In free climbing, pitch refers to classification by climbers of the difficulty of ascent on certain climbing routes.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mount Moran</span> Mountain in Wyoming, United States

Mount Moran is a mountain in Grand Teton National Park of western Wyoming, USA. The mountain is named for Thomas Moran, an American western frontier landscape artist. Mount Moran dominates the northern section of the Teton Range rising 6,000 feet (1,800 m) above Jackson Lake. Several active glaciers exist on the mountain with Skillet Glacier plainly visible on the monolithic east face. Like the Middle Teton in the same range, Mount Moran's face is marked by a distinctive basalt intrusion known as the Black Dike.

In rock climbing, an anchor can be any device or method for attaching a climber, a rope, or a load above or onto a climbing surface—typically rock, ice, steep dirt, or a building—either permanently or temporarily. The intention of an anchor is case-specific but is usually for fall protection, primarily fall arrest and fall restraint. Climbing anchors are also used for hoisting, holding static loads, or redirecting a rope.

Mountaineering, expedition or high altitude boots are a type of footwear used in mountain climbing. They are designed specifically for moving over harsh terrain.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ice tool</span> Specialised modern ice axe

An ice tool is a specialized elaboration of the modern ice axe, used in ice climbing, mostly for the more difficult configurations. Ice tools are used two to a person for the duration of a pitch, and thus in some circumstances such as top-rope-anchored climbs, a pair may be shared among two or more people, where only one of them at a time is climbing. In contrast a classical "ice axe" is used one to a person for the hours or days a party is traveling across snow or glacier. In communities where it is common to refer to an "ice tool" simply as an "ice axe", classic "ice axes" are often referred to as "traveling axes", "walking axes", or "general mountaineering axes" to distinguish them from "tools".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Skyrunning</span> Extreme sport of mountain running above 2,000 metres

Skyrunning is a sport of mountain running up to or exceeding 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) where the minimum average incline is 6% over the total distance and at least 5% has an incline of 30% or more. The climbing difficulty does not exceed II grade UIAA. Poles, crampons, and hands may be used to aid progress. The governing body is the International Skyrunning Federation. The sport comprises a number of different disciplines from the short, steep Vertical Kilometer to the more popular SkyRace and SkyMarathon. Ultra SkyMarathons are becoming increasingly popular as are short vertical SkySpeed races which include skyscraper racing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mixed climbing</span> Combination of ice and rock climbing

Mixed climbing is a combination of ice climbing and rock climbing generally using ice climbing equipment such as crampons and ice tools. Mixed climbing has inspired its own specialized gear such as boots which are similar to climbing shoes but feature built-in crampons. Dry-tooling is mixed climbing's most specialized skill and has since evolved into a "sport" unto itself.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alpenstock</span> Long wooden pole with an iron spike tip used by walkers and mountain climbers

An alpenstock is a long wooden pole with an iron spike tip, used by shepherds for travel on snowfields and glaciers in the Alps since the Middle Ages. It is the antecedent of the modern ice axe.

Alex MacIntyre (1954–1982) was a British mountaineer in the 1970s. He is known for developing new climbing techniques that enabled ascents not previously accomplished.


  1. 1 2 Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills (5th ed.). The Mountaineers. 1992. pp. 353–354.