Rock climbing vs ice climbing

Rock climbing – Rocks give a very strong sense of physicality, of mind against matter. The ultimate thrill, climbers say, is going headlong into a challenge, rather than backing away, facing up to your fears of the void. 4 stars

Ice climbing – With icicles on your rope (in extreme climbs) and a constant fight with an alien environment, there’s an even greater high. Climbers talk of a state of inner peace and almost meditative ecstasy. 5 stars


Rock climbing – Movement against gravity gets the heart working, but climbing over awkward terrain – such as technical boulder-climbing – is unpredictable and spasmodic, working the muscles harder than the heart. 3 stars

Ice climbing – Good technique often involves getting into a regular rhythm, so you move at a steady pace upwards – this, combined with the difficult nature of the surface, means your heart will work hard. 5stars


Rock climbing – Falls do happen, but they are rare – especially if you rely on teamwork, good ropes and sound equipment. Overuse injuries to hands, wrists and elbows, as well as strains, are more common. 4 stars

Ice climbing – With the added elements of cold and ice, there are more risks, such as avalanches and sudden blowouts – lumps of ice “exploding” on the slope – caused by too much lingering on a shelf of fragile ice. 3 stars


Rock climbing – On a sunny day you can get by with plimsolls, shorts, a T-shirt, a helmet and a light pack with water and a few essentials. In the Scottish mountains, take survival gear – even in summer. 4 stars

Ice climbing – One of the big challenges is the amount of equipment required – especially in bad weather. Basics include crampons, two ice axes, a base layer and down jacket, as well as a bivvy bag and head torch. 1 star


Rock climbing – Climbers need to be lithe, almost feline at times – agility matters more than strength. Climbing exercises the forearms, calves and fingers and makes the upper back solid and well balanced. 4 stars

Ice climbing – An almost unrivalled exercise in providing a complete workout, pushing every part of your body. Ice is harder, so expect even firmer, more defined muscles, less fat and better contours. 5 stars


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