How Many Ice Screws Do I Need for Ice Climbing?

How Many Ice Screws Do I Need for Ice Climbing?
How Many Ice Screws Do I Need for Ice Climbing?

Ice climbing is an immensely exciting experience. However, it can be a little dangerous as well. If you do not prepare thoroughly in advance, you may very well get yourself into deep trouble. One thing that you need to do is to make sure you have enough ice screws. So, how many you actually need?

The precise number of screws you need will depend on the difficulty of the path you’re following. However, having at least 8 screws is a good starting point. Make sure that you have various sizes like 10, 13, 19, and 22cm.

It is also a good idea to have four screws for runners and 2 for belays. If you want to be on the safe side, you should bring 10 screws. This will help in the event that the route does not have bolted belays.

There are many other factors to take into consideration when attempting to figure out precisely how many screws you need. These factors will be explored in greater depth in the article below.

Better Understanding Ice Screws

Understanding Ice Screws

It is a good idea to gain a better understanding of ice screws. If you’re even ice climbed before, you have already used them. The screws are threaded.

This ensures that can be used as an anchor. When you’re climbing up a steep surface, you need a little more reassurance and support. This is where your screws will prove to be helpful.

The screws can be used to protect you in the event that you fall. They can also be used at belays to create anchor points.

In this day and age, the best ice screws are modern tubular screws. They’re available in various lengths with the most popular ranging from 10 to 23cm.

Anyone who is going to be ice climbing will definitely need access to these screws. Otherwise, they’re never going to get anywhere.

What Is The Purpose Of Ice Screws?

Purpose of Ice Screws

When it comes down to it, everyone who is going to partake in ice climbing will need screws at some point or another. After all, you need to make sure that you are completely secured to the surface.

In order to do that, you’ll need to create an ice screw belay. This will give you a little extra support in the event that you slip and fall. If that happens, the screws will come to your aid and catch you from falling.

Ice screws are specifically designed for ice climbers. They feature a thread at the bottom that allows them to quickly and easily penetrate into the ice.

They also feature a hanger at the top. When the screw is screwed in fully, you’re only going to see the tip and the hanger. You’ll use the hanger to install a hook.

Then, you’ll be able to connect your rope to the belay. It is possible to create a belay with one or more screws. Using at least two is recommended for safety purposes.

With this in mind, you can see that you’re going to need quite a few screws to get from point A to point B.

What Lengths Do You Need?

Before finding out exactly how many screws you need, it is best to focus on the lengths. After all, a single length isn’t going to cut it. This will make it nearly impossible to pass through certain routes.

With this in mind, you should know that the length you need depends on two things. This includes the ice quality and the ice thickness.

Remember that the hanger of the screw should rest flush with the surface of the ice. If the screw is too long, this isn’t going to happen. That could make the connection very weak and it could leave you vulnerable.

Therefore, you really have to know what type of conditions you’re going to experience in advance. This will help ensure that you get the perfect length for the path that you choose.

Either way, the length needs to be perfect. Too long and too short are both equally bad. This is why it is best to bring several lengths at all times.

What Is The Best Setup For Beginners?

Beginners are undoubtedly going to have a tougher time choosing screws than experienced climbers. Therefore, it is often best to simplify things for yourself.

If you’re a newbie and you want to be prepared, you should have at least 7 or 8 ice screws. When you head to the mountain, you should take a 13cm screw, a 22cm screw, three 16cm screws, and two 19cm screws.

This might not be enough for all paths, but it should be good enough for most situation. This will ensure that you’re able to deal with moderately difficult paths.

Plus, you’ll have a longer screw to help you pass through poor ice. And, you’ll have a short screw for the thinner ice.

Again, this setup might not be suitable for all trips. However, it will be a good setup for most ice climbing trips.

Don’t Overdo It

Many beginners believe that it is best to have too many. This is often true with many other activities. However, this is never a good thing with ice climbing.

When you’re climbing up an icy surface, you have little time to search for the supplies you need. If you have way too many screws, it is going to be difficult for you to quickly find the one you need the most.

Therefore, you should avoid bringing too many screws. You should also consider investing in a good pouch for your screws. I would also recommend racking your screws.

This will ensure that you’re able to keep your supplies organized at all times. In return, it will be much easier for you to grab the screw you need to get to the next step of your advantage.

As mentioned above, beginners should start with 7 or 8 screws. This should be enough to get you by. Bringing one or two more is fine. However, you should never exceed 10 screws.

Why Do You Need So Many Ice Screws?

Ultimately, a lot of people do not understand why they’re going to need so many screws. The truth of the matter is that ice climbing is intense and unpredictable. You just never know what type of ice conditions you’re going to encounter.

Therefore, you have to prepare for pretty much everything that could happen. This is why you should try to have at least 7 or 8 screws.

Just think about it. If the ice is in bad shape, you may end up using three or even four screws to create a good belay. At the same time, you’re going to be dealing with various thicknesses.

There isn’t a single screw length that is great for all thicknesses. Instead, you need to perfectly match the length of the screw to the thickness of the ice.

This is the best way to protect yourself and ensure you have enough support to get by. And of course, this is why you’re going to need so many screws.

Still, there is a fine line between too many and just enough. Therefore, you have to be very cautious about bringing too many with you.

Bring just enough to get you by and no more. With a little experience, you will eventually be able to figure out what lengths you need the most and which ones can be left at home for the day.

How Do Ice Screws Work?

How Do Ice Screws Work

Finally, you should find out how ice screws actually work. Once you’ve gained more insight into the functionality of ice screws, you’ll figure out precisely why you need so many of them.

Well, these screws are specifically designed for ice climbers. They’re made in a way that allows them to easily drill into the ice that you’re climbing.

Once the screw is fully in, you’ll find that the screw is very tight and snug. Grab the hanger with your hand and give it a tug. It isn’t going to move anywhere.

With the hanger on the top, the screw can be used to build a belay platform of sorts. You’ll fix the rope around the hanger to ensure that it is secure.

This will allow you to make your next move without too many worries. Just remember that choosing the right length is absolutely essential!

If you use the wrong length, your screw is not going to be secure. In return, there is a risk that the belay will not be able to support your weight.


At the end of the day, finding out how many screws you need for ice climbing can be difficult. With a little experience and practice, you’ll have little trouble getting what you need. Until then, you should stick with the basics.

Make sure that you have at least 8 screws. And, be sure that the screws are various lengths. This is the best way to guarantee that you’re actually prepared for everything that you could possibly encounter.

Once you’ve ice climbed several times, you’ll be able to customize your arsenal to better suit your precise needs at the given time.


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