Ice Axe – Choosing the Right Ice Axe
An ice knife is an indispensable tool for climbers and mountaineers, no matter if you’re planning to tackle the slopes or hike down to the summit of an Alpine mountain. A good ice axe can make all the difference between safe travel and falling on icy trails.
There are three types: technical climbing tools, mountaineering and walking axes. They all have different strengths and features.
Mountaineering tools are made with hardened steel alloys that are heavy and durable. They also come with a pick that is designed to cut and tear snow. This pick has a serrated underside that can be used to probe the snow and ice surface.
The shaft of an axe is usually made from metal, but it can also be made from composite materials such as Kevlar or carbon filaments. It connects the head to the spike and is often curved in shape for more effective grip.
It’s worth taking time to choose the right axe. The axe you choose should be comfortable and easy to use as well as being sturdy and robust enough to tackle the type of terrain that you plan to explore.
A good ice-axe should be easy to transport in a rucksack. Many models come with a webbing loop attached to the rear base. This is used to secure the shaft and prevent it from being stolen.
A few axes have wrist loops and leashes to stop them from sliding down the hill while in your hands. This is especially useful when you are zigzagging up hills. It can be annoying when changing directions, however, as you have the leash to be switched from one hand to the other at every turn.
Walking axes are lighter and generally have shorter, more straight shafts with less aggressive teeth on the pick. These are generally more popular for hiking up ice or snowy slopes. They’re also useful for performing self-arrest when a climber falls down a steep slope and needs to stop the fall before it goes too far.
When choosing your ice-axe, think about the terrain you will use it on, where it will be used and how long it will be carried. It’s also wise to consider your height, weight and ability when deciding on which ice axe to buy.
Get Started with Your Ice Axe
There’s a bit of technique behind using an Ice Axe vs Crampons, so it’s a good idea to practice before you head out on your next adventure. First, stand in a relaxed upright position with your hiking boots on and the axe in your uphill hand. The shaft’s base should be directly below your ankle. Refer to a friend who can help you with this measurement.
Once you’re in the right position, you can practice bringing your axe into your body then planting it in the snow. Once the axe is planted you should turn your body so that your feet are facing uphill and your head is downslope. Once this is achieved, you can push your body up with the axe to arrest your fall before it goes too far.