Ice climbing is similar to rock climbing, but instead of climbing on rock you climb an incline of ice, similarly while making use of ropes, picks, etc. These inclines include frozen waterfalls, ice falls, and cliffs and walls of rock. Ice climbing is usually divided into two groups, namely alpine ice (frozen precipitation) and water ice (a frozen flow of water).
The ice climbing gear that you will require is dependent on the conditions of the slope and the ice. If the ice is flat then any normal hiking or mountaineering boot will be sufficient. If the ice is on a steep incline then specially designed boots to which crampons, pointed metal parts, can be attached must be worn. If the incline is short and only moderately steep, then an ice axe can be employed to chop steps into the ice. On longer and steeper inclines, crampons must be worn for safety. On very steep inclines ropes should be used and, if in a group, then ice screws may be needed to protect the other climbers. Some people only consider these situations to be true ice climbing, and the other situations as part of winter mountaineering.
Rope systems are employed during ice climbing. There are three main rope systems of which the single rope system, used for straight climbing routes, is the most common. Also used is the double rope system, which offers a more flexible system than using a single rope. Attaching your harness to the rope can provide additional safety when enjoying an ice climbing adventure tour.
Waterfall ice climbing is graded according the rating system used in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Unfortunately, grading is entirely subjective and may not give an accurate account of the difficulty of the climb. The routes will also become easier after the first climb as the holes in the ice created by previous climbers makes the cleaning of ice and placing of tools much easier. Grading also tends to focus on the steepness of the incline rather than the difficulty of the ascent.
Joining a climbing club or getting a guide can give you many of the ice climbing instructions that will make your climb safer. You will also be taken to inclines appropriate for your experience level, as well as be amongst individuals who share your interests in ice climbing.