Inverse problems are used to estimate model parameters from observations. Many inverse problems are ill-posed because they lack stability, meaning it is not possible to find solutions that are stable with respect to small changes in input data. Regularization techniques are necessary to stabilize the problem. For nonlinear inverse problems, iterative inverse methods can be used as a regularization method. These methods start with an initial estimate of the model parameters, update the parameters to match observation in an iterative process that adjusts large-scale spatial features first, and use a stopping criterion to prevent the overfitting of data. This criterion determines the smoothness of the solution and thus the degree of regularization. Here, iterative inverse methods are implemented for the specific problem of reconstructing basal stickiness of an ice sheet by using the shallow-shelf approximation as a forward model and synthetically derived surface velocities as input data. The incomplete Gauss-Newton (IGN) method is introduced and compared to the commonly used steepest descent and nonlinear conjugate gradient methods. Two different stopping criteria, the discrepancy principle and a recent- improvement threshold, are compared. The IGN method is favored because it is rapidly converging, and it incorporates the discrepancy principle, which leads to optimally resolved solutions.