Ep. 6 - Be Like Water: The Art Of Low Impact Ice Climbing With Stas Beskin

Nov 8, 2023

Stas Beskin is known for soloing big bold climbs, such as Rainbow Serpent and Fearful Symmetry, two of the most iconic WI6s in the Canadian Rockies.

It's one thing to solo big flows, it's another to do it on freestanding pillars about as wide as your shoulders. But he does that too. And he does so without swinging his tools.

Stas' conception of ice climbing revolves around displacing as little ice as possible. It's an adaptive strategy that means different things in different situations, but it's always about fitting one's body and style to the ice in front of you – it's about being attuned to the environment and trying to fit it, not the other way around.

This idea is central to Stas' approach to life, and can be seen in his pacifist nature summarized in a motto he has: "Open up your fist". This means to show up with an open hand and heart, a gesture of peace, not with a closed fist, a sign of aggression.

We had this interview shortly after the Israel-Hamas conflict started. Stas served in the Israeli military and wanted to share a statement before we get into the episode:

"Until we recognize that life is sacred and nothing justifies taking lives, we won't stop killing each other. Life is a universal value, as suffering is a universal part of it, but until we will realize that we are all the same there will be no end."



2:58 - Ukraine -> Russia -> Israel -> Norway -> Canada

6:36 - Growing up in the Caucasus'

12:43 - The best warrior is the one who first tries to run away

15:11 - 17 kilometers of vertical ice per year

19:04 - Mindset of soloing

22:35 - Stas' climbing style

22:43 - Appreciation for nature

25:35 - Gratitude practice

29:45 - Qigong

30:40 - Reading ice and the Real Big Drip collapse

35:13 - Scratch technique (and response from the community)

40:56 - Importance of the pick for scratching

41:52 - Quebéc and its potential for ice

45:05 - Open up your fist

Resources and links:

Stas is a rock and ice climbing guide, specializing in multi-pitches. If you'd like to book a day out with Stas, you can connect with him at wildice.ca.

For a bit more about Stas, Ian Welsted, an ACMG alpine guide, wrote a great profile in the October/November 2022 issue of Gripped.

In this video, Stas shares techniques for scratching and climbing thin pillars. And here is an article (one of many) about hard mixed routes he is putting up.

Screaming Barfie Challenge: 

You didn't ask for it but we're bringing it to you! An ice tool hang with icy cold hands... for the planet!

Why? Because ice season is getting shorter in most places and that makes me sick to my stomach, kinda like screaming barfies.

So the "screaming for climate change" challenge is a way to have a little fun and raise money for the American Alpine Club, which is doing important research, advocacy, and policy work around the impact of climate change on climbing. Plus we're a masochistic bunch and freezing your hands is kinda fun. And did I mention prizes?

To learn more, head to iceicebeta.com/screaming-barfies-fundraiser


Original photo used in cover image by Caro Ouellet (@ouellet.caro).

Intro music by Hannah Noelle Enomoto (thanks, sis!).

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© 2023 Ice Ice Beta. All rights reserved.

© 2023 Ice Ice Beta. All rights reserved.

© 2023 Ice Ice Beta. All rights reserved.