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ice axe choice

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Re: ice axe choice

Postby Ikan Mas » Sat Jul 02, 2011 7:14 am

Good discussion, I'm finding this helpful.



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Re: ice axe choice

Postby Shawn » Sat Jul 02, 2011 12:40 pm

Well this invoked my curiosity as to the length of my Black Diamond ("Raven") axe. Turns out it's 70cm. The other axe, sold by REI, isn't marked and I don't recall the length (too lazy to measure), but you can see it's not too much shorter yet it fits nicely inside my pack as compared to having to lash the longer axe on the outside of the pack I most often use.

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Re: ice axe choice

Postby rlown » Sat Jul 02, 2011 12:55 pm

Shawn,

Any reason one axe has a strap and the other doesn't? I thought the strap would be important in an arrest situation (ie, losing ones grip).

I did come across this lil' tidbit on self-arrest: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-arrest
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Re: ice axe choice

Postby Shawn » Sat Jul 02, 2011 11:38 pm

The strap is intended to secure the axe to the persons wrist simply to keep it from getting lost if dropped (as in "ah sh@t"). Some use them, some don't. A nice to have item which probably becomes more important with remote or difficult ascents (neither of which I've done...).
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Re: ice axe choice

Postby fishmonger » Sun Jul 03, 2011 8:15 am

rlown wrote:Might be a little late for this, but how does one choose an ice axe? I have an old wooden handled one. Yes outdated.

What are good Ice axes to consider?


I use the one I bought in 1986, because it still does the job the few times I need it. It does have a fiberglass handle and comes in at about 3x the weight of a modern CAMP ultra light axe. One year my REI divident will probably get me an upgrade. Most of the time, the axe is on my pack, so weight is probably the most important feature for my type of mountaineering (avoid the difficult stuff)

Happy with the then new axe in June 1987, high in Corsica:

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Re: ice axe choice

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:31 pm

First, an ice axe does you no good unless you have extensive training using it. Self arrest needs to be instinctive- if you cannot get stopped in the first few seconds, you may not be able to stop. Otherwise you are just carrying weight for "show" or a heavy walking stick. You should minimally read about using it, spend two to three days self-arresting all day on a steep hard snow slope with a good safe runout, preferably with an instructor. You also need to practice self arrest with full pack on your back. Even with experience, stopping a fall in a full backpack is difficult. Crampons also need practice in use, or they can actually be more dangerous than not having them. If you wear crampons, you need to use an entirely different method of self arresting. You walk differently with crampons. In some snow conditions, snow balls up under the crampon and actually causes you to fall more. I strongly recommend that any backpacker without mountaineering experience, spend the $$ to get good instruction- Kurt Wedburg's guides (Bishop CA) is one place to get this training.

I am not even going to get into equipment, because I do not think a novice should be choosing his ice axe or crampons without an instructor.

Crampons and trekking poles will prevent falling, but if you fall, will do little to stop the slide.

If you just want to walk on icy snow of low angle, Yak Tracks are fine.

Even though I have experience with ice axe and crampons, I usually just wait until the snow softens and use trekking poles. I avoid slopes without good safe run-outs. I turn back a lot.

The point where you need to rope up in addition to having an ice axe, is a fine line. Many accidents are caused by exceeding this line. Only experience will help you decide wher the line lies.

Lastly, there are definite techniques of walking on slopes in snow so that you have better purchase on the snow. You need to learn these techniques and practice them.
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Re: ice axe choice

Postby rlown » Mon Jul 04, 2011 3:47 pm

WD,

Thanks! That was the kind of post I was looking for on this thread. I too just wait for the snow to melt. Nice recommendation on training. I'd like to hear from others' who have had training or have actually had to self-arrest.
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