• Will Sweat Harm My Harness?
  • Should You Use Rope or Webbing to Connect to an Anchor?
  • Choosing Between C4s and Friends
  • Can You Lead On a Static Rope?
  • Can I Use Climbing Bolts For Anchors in a Gym?
  • Are Falls Held or Breaking Strength More Important In a Rope?
  • Does Poop Harm a Climbing Rope?
  • Are Homemade Draws Reliable?
  • Shopping for Economy Carabiners
  • When You Fly, Can You Carry On Climbing Gear?
  • Can I Trust Fixed Draws?
  • Which Helmet WIll Fit My Big Head?
  • Choosing Ice Screw Length
  • Are Adjustable Leg Loops Useful?
  • Should I clip ice screws with Screamers?
  • How do I Make a Bomber Anchor?
  • Can I Modify my Crampon Without Compromising the Integrity?
  • Hot Versus Cold Forging
  • Caring For Your FIngertips
  • Are Sewn Slings Stronger Than Knotted Ones?
  • When to Replace Climbing Webbing
  • Using Grip Dip To Color Code Gear
  • The Benefits of Cotton
  • How to Pull a Rappel Rope
  • How to Properly Orient a Carabiner Gate
  • Are My Fuzzy Quickdraws Safe?
  • How to Stretch Climbing Shoes
  • Are 1/2-inch bolts really better than 3/8-inch?
  • Should I Resole My Rock Shoes?
  • Hand Drill Advice
  • Lonely Climber Looking for Woman
  • Is My Invented Knot Safe?
  • Difference Between Double and Twin Ropes
  • Dealing With an Argumentative Partner
  • Will Antifreeze Ruin Rope?
  • Why Is a Rack Called a Rack?
  • Rock Shoes For a Big Guy
  • Do They Kill Geese To Get Down?
  • How to Wash a Rope
  • Do Cam Teeth Do Anything?
  • Can I Fix Delaminated Rock Shoes?
  • Can I Mix a Static With a Dynamic Rope for Rappelling?
  • Should You Lower Or Rap Through Anchors?
  • Should You Clip the Belay As Your First Lead Pro?
  • How Should The Middle Man Tie In?
  • How Do I Get a Good Climbing Man?
  • Do Falls Weaken Bolts?
  • Should I Rope Solo?
  • Should I Angle Ice Screws Down?
  • How Should Old Climbers Train?
  • Can I Make a Belay Loop?
  • Reusiing Ice Screw Holes
  • Overcoming Fear of Falling
  • Choosing a Stove Fuel
  • Will My Hiking Boots Work With Crampons?
  • Do Heavy People Shock Load the Rope?
  • Can Offset Cams Subsitute for Regular Cams?
  • Can I Resling My Cams Myself?
  • Are Older Alien Cams Safe?
  • Antifreeze
  • The Truth About Climbing Supplements
  • Can I Make My Leashed Tools, Leashless?
  • Rope Stretch Facts
  • How To Cut a Rope Without a Knife
  • Secrets of the Toprope
  • How to Sharpen Crampons
  • Should I Become a Climbing Guide?
  • Preventing Climbing Rope Wear
  • How to Remove an Old Bolt
  • How to Customize Ice Tool Picks
  • Double Rope Facts
  • Do It Yourself Fruit Boots
  • Climbing Rope Sheath Slippage
  • Rockfall Safety
  • Do Screamers Work?
  • Defining the Cheater Stick and Stick Clip
  • Climbing Skin Care
  • Selecting a Gym Rope
  • Quick Links for Climbing
  • Are Russian Cams Good?
  • When To Retire Climbing Gear and Ropes
  • Should I Get a Link Cam?
  • How to Get a Climbing Mate
  • Will Dog Urine Harm My Rope?
  • Using Steel Carabiners for Fixed Quickdraws
  • Petzl Tibloc and Climbing Rope Sheath Damage
  • Overcoming Anger
  • Fixing a Spinning Bolt
  • Video Spotlight
    The Story of Two Worlds Dai Koyamada V16 Sit Start
    The Story of Two Worlds Dai Koyamada V16 Sit Start

    Choosing Ice Screw Length

    07-Mar-2011
    By Gear Guy

    I am going to start leading ice this season, but don't know which length ice screws I should get. I only have the ducats for eight screws. Should I get long screws, or short screws, or in between?

    Ice screws come in up to five sizes, from 10 to 22 centimeters long. The length(s) you need will depend on the thickness of the ice, and the ice quality. Always, you want the screw's hanger to rest flush with the ice. Place a screw that is longer than the ice is thick, and you'll have to tie it off. Besides being an extra fiddle step, tying off a screw weakens the placement because the webbing can break (or slip off) before the screw itself fails. Conversely, if your screw is so short the threads can't engage the solid underlying ice -- bad!

    There is a misconception that long screws are always stronger than short screws. In fact, a long screw in shit ice will be weaker than a short screw in solid ice. This is because ice screws rely on their threads gripping the ice. Unless a long screw has more threads (some do, some don't), it won't necessarily be any stronger than a shorter screw.

    If you are clear on all this, don't be: I've had long screws hit air pockets deep in the ice and become nearly worthless. In that situation, a shorter screw that would keep the threads engaged in the good ice would be stronger. Generally, however, surface ice isn't as solid as the underlying ice, and you need a longer screw to reach it.

    For novice ice climbers, short stubby screws are usually too short because they won't let you get to the good ice down deep, and the long 20- to 22-centimeter jobs are too much work to place. If I could only have eight screws, I'd get one 13, three 16, two 19, and one 22 centimeters long. This would put me heavy on the medium workhorse lengths, with one extra-long screw for really rotten ice, and one short screw for thin ice. Gear Guy has spoken!

    Reader's Commentary:

    Don't want to use Facebook, but still want to comment? We have you covered:

    Add Your Comments to this article:
    Hello