Ice Climbing in Central London

Ice Climbing in the heart of London?

Situated just a few minutes walk away from the hustle and bustle of Covent Garden is a 8M ice climbing wall. Tucked away downstairs in the corner of an Ellis Brigham, Vertical Chill houses a wall of steep,vertical ice. A trail of blue ropes mark different routes of varying difficulty. From a well chiselled upright climb to a icy bulge and overhang, the one hour experience will offer enough routes for both beginners and ice climbers to explore.

We started our experience with a safety briefing, then we proceeded to kit up with North Face winter insulators, B3 Mountaineering boots, ice-axes, crampons, helmets and a harness.

Installed in 2003, the ice climbing wall is contained within a frozen unit and regulated to temperatures ranging from -5°C to -12°C. A display window looks out to the shop floor of Ellis Brigham, like a gentle reminder of normality beyond the world of polar-white ice we were contained in.

Our instructor demonstrates the correct technique for ice climbing. “5 points of contact, toes in, heels down, hips in and arms up!”.

Suitably roped in, we begin the ice climbing session.

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The start of the ice climb

With a firm flick of the wrist, I dig my ice axe straight above me. As I start to gain height, the watchful eye of an instructor points out the chiselled areas in the ice where the crampons can be firmly wedged in. He gives helpful hints whilst we climb, from pointing out bad habits such as using too much arm strength to where to place each point of contact to maximise climbing efficiency.

I start to falter as I reach the top. With a final burst of energy, I reach the top of the wall, ringing a cow-bell placed on top with the victorious clang of my ice axe against the bell.

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We abseil back down, before proceeding with a new climb, this time with the primary focus on technique. With taking away one ice axe, the instructor highlights that this enables us to concentrate on leg strength and not arms.

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My legs start to shake as I completely swung away from the wall on first attempt. With just one ice axe as an anchor, I came to realise that firm footholds were key.

Our instructor belayed us back down. With an hour’s ice climbing under our belts, it was an exhilarating activity to experience in the heart of London. Vertical Chill offers both guided and unguided ice-climbing, with prices starting from £25.00.

Trip Tips

  • Vertical Chill is situated downstairs in Ellis Brigham (Covent Garden), London. The venue is tucked away in the corner of the shop downstairs, keep an eye out for it!
  • All specialist equipment is available to rent (helmets, harnesses, mountaineering boots, crampons, ice axe, gloves and winter clothing). The rental fee is £10.00.
  • Vertical Chill offer 1 hour slots, I would recommend to book a few weeks in advance to secure a suitable time slot.
  • All winter insulated clothing is provided so we were pretty toasty whilst climbing! It is best to wear t-shirts/shorts/leggings beneath the winter gear. 
  • The venue is suitable for small groups only (up to 2 climbers per session).
  • You will receive a loyalty card after your first climb. After purchasing your 3rd ice climb experience, the 4th is provided for free.
  • If you have any further questions, feel free to comment here or email me.

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