Ice Axe Basics

An iceaxe is essential for winter mountaineers. It is also an essential piece of gear for hikers and hillwalkers who travel on icy trails and glaciers early or late in their season. It’s an invaluable tool for providing a “third leg” on a crusted mountainside traverse, biting into a vertical ice wall, carving out an emergency snow shelter or stopping what would otherwise be a disastrous plummet down a severe crusted slope.

Ice Axe vs Crampons come in many styles and designs. What works well on one climb may not work on the next. It is important to choose the right type of climbing axe, and to always check your gear before embarking on any expedition.

The four main parts of an ice-axe are the head and shaft, adze, pick and pick. These parts are typically made out of aluminum, steel or carbon fiber. The adze attaches to your pick and is used for melting or weakening ice. The curved edge on an adze is able to quickly cut through soft snow and other types of stones.

You can also have an adze modified for ice climbing purposes. For example, a curved blade with the ability to cut through hard ice or carve steps. This is particularly useful when working on steep ice. However it is important that your adze is able to penetrate hardened ice.

A lot of ice axes have a “self – arrest” orientation. However, you still need to apply certain techniques when falling. To stop a fall, first get into a self-arrest position. Next, place the pick of your Ice Axe into the snow. Then, use your body to arrest yourself.

If you are falling on your stomach (heading uphill), then you can use the pick of your Ice Axe to drive into snow and then bring it close to your torso. This is the same technique that climbers and walkers use to arrest their falls on steeper sloping terrain.

Holding the axe correctly is important, as it helps to give you control and prevent injuries from slicing through your arm or shoulder. The most common mistake is to hold the axe by its shaft, instead of by its head. The head is longer than the shaft. This can help prevent your wrist and hand getting twisted when you swing it uphill.

Shaft: The shaft is the “handle”, or long part of your ice tool. It’s generally made out of aluminum or carbon fibre. It is made to withstand the winter mountain environment, and it conducts heat very efficiently.

It is recommended that you purchase an axe with a length slightly shorter than your height. This will provide greater balance and comfort when traversing low-angle terrain. This is especially important if you plan to climb steeper terrain in future.

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