The Ice Cream Game

A couple of years ago now, some brave Norwegians exposed members of the UNSW Outdoors Club and myself to a simple ritual they called ‘Ice Cream’. Whether this game was played across the oceans at their previous alma mater, whether it was made up to encourage someone, or if the game was passed to them on the wings of Valkyries who flew in from Valhalla we may never know. (I guess we could just ask Tord) But what we do know is this. The game works. The games is key. Even if you haven’t been playing the game, you should have been.

The game, like all good games, can be summed up in one sentence;

If you climb your hardest route ever, you have to buy the people who are there ice cream.  

Easy huh. That’s it. You could stop reading the rules now if you want.

Now I bet some of you are thinking,”Wait if I climb hard shouldn’t someone buy ME Ice cream? I mean I did all the work! Where is my reward?”

Well. Firstly climbing hard is it’s own reward. The intention of the game is two fold. Firstly is shares the joy of a hard send. Secondly, it encourages people to encourage each other. It may mean you give your partner that one extra catch they need to succeed, that bite of a cliff bar they need to get stronger, that crucial shout of “VEEENNNNNGGAAAHHH!!!” as they Elvis leg high above their last bolt about to dead point past the chains.

Because I know this is enough to be dangerous, here are the rest of the rules.

  1. The route must be climbed clean. ie Redpointed, Flashed or Onsighted. Dogging doesn’t count towards Ice Cream.
  2. Multipitches are treated on a pitch by pitch basis, based on leader.
  3. You have an ‘Ice Cream Grade’ in the following disciplines; Sport (ie fully rap bolted climbing), Trad (The one where you put the stuff in the wall yourself), Bouldering (The little one), Ice (Yes hardmen and women climb Ice pitches then eat Ice Cream), Alpine and Aid. No ifs, no buts.
  4. The exception to rule one is Aid. If you clip the chains, that counts. You owe ice cream. You cant really redpoint an aid climb.
  5. You must buy Ice Cream for your belayer and if the group is 6 or smaller everyone else. If the group size is larger, you owe your belayer and everyone who came in your car.
    1. But what if i walked to the crag from the house. Too bad, you owe the whole house now. whoops. Heaven forbid if you took the train to the crag.
  6. If someone assists you, i.e they loan you gear, cheer you on, or give you good beta, you owe them too.
  7. Your first clean lead in a new style is automatically Ice Cream. ie if Alex Puccio went out and climbed Trad 5.2 aka grade 8 and you are belaying, she owes you ice cream.
  8. Ice Cream should be paid on the day where possible.
  9. What if i’m lactose intolerant? Ice block.
  10. Gluten Intolerant aka Glutarded? Gluten Free Ice Cream.
  11. But I don’t eat sugar? Too bad.

Pez Onsighting ‘Ben Trovato’ (20 or 5.10c) for Ice Cream, then enjoying the spoils.


Special Rules:

  1. Some players consider their bastard projects they can’t seem to be able to put down Ice Cream worthy as well, regardless of their grade. This is variously called ‘Nemesis Ice Cream’ or ‘Puppy Ice Cream.’

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