Most of theclimb to the summit of Aneto is over snow or ice, depending on the state of the glacier. The same can be said even during the summer months. For this reason, it is essential that you take with you and – more importantly – know how to use an ice axe and crampons.
In addition, it is highly recommended to use ahelmet as an additional safety measure.
Do i need to take an ice axe and crampons when climbing Aneto?
The answer is a resounding YES, but not just that: you also need to know how to use them.
Crampons help give your feet extra stability when walking on the hard snow or ice found on the surface of the glacier, stopping you from slipping and falling downhill.
An ice axe helps you prevent falls that may occur on the ice or snow, which can still happen even if you are wearing crampons on your feet (due to slipping, losing your balance or getting one crampon stuck on the other, among other reasons).
When you reach snowy terrain, take your ice axe out from your rucksack and place your crampons on your boots.
Crampons are pointed metal devices that attach to the soles of your bootsand stick into the ice or snow, thus improving your traction when walking on these types of surfaces.
Be careful, however, as not all crampons are suitable for just any type of boot! There are different binding systems to choose from:
- Strap-on: these crampons feature a strap that joins together two pieces of plastic where the heel and toes of your boot go. The main advantage of this binding system is that it can be used with most boots. However, they are a little tricky to attach and you have to make sure that the strap is nice and tight.
- Semi-automatic or hybrid: this system comprises a heel clip that attaches to a welt on the back of rigid or semi-rigid boots. They are versatile and easy-to-attach crampons, although they cannot be used with flexible boots (such as hiking boots).
- Automatic or step-in: in addition to the same plastic heel piece as their semi-automatic counterparts, these crampons also have a toe bail that fits over another welt on the front part of your boot. They are designed to be used with rigid boots.
Regardless of the type of crampon you choose, you should definitely use an antibott, which is a thin sheet of plastic that goes between the crampon and your boot to stop snow from accumulating and clogging up the base of the crampon. When this happens, the points of the crampon are not able to properly dig in to the ice or snow, making it more likely that you will slip.
An ice axe can be used to help slow down a slip or fall on ice or snow – also known as self-arrest – while it also serves as an additional support while walking, just like a walking pole, giving you greater stability, particularly over snowy ground.
An ice axe with a straight shaft will be fine for climbing Aneto. In terms of length, grab your ice axe by the cross and let your arm fall down at your side. If the spike reaches your ankle, then it is the right length for you.
When you enter the névé or glacier, put your walking poles away and take out your ice axe instead. The ice axe can be used to self-arrest when falling, while you cannot do this with a walking pole.
How to ascend using an ice axe and crampons
Once you enter the névé or glacier, carry your ice axe in your uphill hand. If you fall, grab the ice axe at the cross (where the pick and adze meet) with one hand and the shaft with the other, and then stick it into the snow.
While using crampons, walk with your feet slightly apart to prevent them from getting caught in your trousers or the straps, making sure to dig all points into the snow so that you are properly secured.
Here is some more information on climbing using an ice axe and crampons, but don’t forget that it is vital to receive practical training from professionals in order to learn how to use this safety equipment.
What if i don’t have this equipment?
There are several shops and businesses in Benasque Valley where you can rent equipment.
However, please remember that not only do you have to carry this equipment with you, you also need to know how to use it and be trained in its proper use. If you are not sure how to use an ice axe and crampons in the correct manner, get in touch with a local guide or practice using them in simpler activities before you attempt to climb Aneto.