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Thread: ice axe technique

  1. #31
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AOC-1
    Unfortunately, Chouinard's classic, Climbing Ice, was published 30 years ago and is out-of-print. You might get lucky and find it in an old bookstore, and there are used copies on Amazon. But I guess it is considered a collector's item because the cheapest listing is $50. It's a terrific book, with lively writing and great photos. It is the definitive text on French ice climbing technique.
    A number of other classics have been reprinted--hopefully this one will be too.

    But it is out-of-date in its discussion of steep ice equipment and techniques.
    True, but this is a predominantly hiking BBS, not the place to go for cutting-edge technical climbing. The techniques described in his book are more appropriate for this audience than the latest and greatest techniques for extreme ice. In fact, I learned Austrian technique (front-pointing on steep ice) better from Jeff Lowe's "The Ice Experience".

    While both books cover the full range of techniques for their day (pub 1978 and 1979 respectively), Chouinard covered French technique better and Lowe covered Austrian technique better (IMO).

    Doug

  2. #32
    Senior Member giggy's Avatar
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    jeff lowe's ice world is good too. - good size section on snow, low angle alpine ice.

  3. #33
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Here's my 2 cents. My technical tools always had some kind of tape on the handle. Never on my general mountaineering tool for a couple of reasons. When using the axe in the various stages of general mountaineering, I find the shaft sliding up and down in my hand and I like that, I can move it fast when I need to, also I agree with kevin it inhibits probing. as far a a leash, this is a must imo and begging to differ with Choiurnard, I always have a leash on any tool. I like the way it allows me to crank on the tool when glissading or arresting and also think its very usefull in the self belay technique ( I had the leash catch me once, when I lossed my grip of the shaft in a fall). Not to mention, its alot harder to drop an axe with a properly used leash.

  4. #34
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra
    I always have a leash on any tool.
    I dropped a tool once when half-way up an ice climb... (Actually it was stuck in the ice while I was removing a screw and I bumped it.) Fortunately, I carried a third tool.

    I always used a leash on my tools when on steep technical terrain so I didn't have to worry about my hand slipping off the tool--also reduces finger fatigue. But after the above, I always used a keeper cord to my harness on steep terrain. The leash alone is generally adequate on terrain that does not require a rope.

    My leashes, as described earlier in this thread, are easily removed. I use the leash when needed or remove it when not needed.

    Doug

  5. #35
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    doug,
    I hear you Loud and clear, I "bumped" into my tool as well on an ascent of "Pegasus" I wasnt about to "french Technique" the final colume which I had started up so I ran in 2 screws and lowered down to the belay, grabbed my one of my buddies axes and continued on. Its funny some things only need to happen to you once heh? The "keeper" cord is a viable option, although I prefer a leash.

  6. #36
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra
    doug,
    I hear you Loud and clear, I "bumped" into my tool as well on an ascent of "Pegasus" I wasnt about to "french Technique" the final colume which I had started up so I ran in 2 screws and lowered down to the belay, grabbed my one of my buddies axes and continued on. Its funny some things only need to happen to you once heh? The "keeper" cord is a viable option, although I prefer a leash.
    The problem (for me) with a leash without a keeper cord is that I needed to take my hand out of the leash to insert/remove protection--thus the risk of losing a tool. For an unroped climb, I'm happy with just a leash.

    Fortunately, I had the third tool and was able to finish without difficulty. And we were able to retrieve my dropped tool later--it was one of the climbs at Frankenstein.

    Doug
    Last edited by DougPaul; 12-15-2006 at 10:27 AM.

  7. #37
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    I agree and in fact kept a keeper cord clipped to my harness for that very application, I did not like carrieing a third tool.

  8. #38
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    I'm no expert and it's been a very long time since I took a mountaineering course, but here is what I remember:
    We used straight shafted ice axes w/ no rubber on the shaft (not recommended as already discussed earlier); length-about long enough to reach the floor when held down at your side;
    Most useful for: three-point support (balance) while climbing and descending snow slopes; anchor for belays; self arrest; we didn't really cut steps-we used crampons, but did learn how to do it
    Self-arrest: something you absolutely have to practice-can't really be learned from a book-we did it falling face forward, backwards, head up, head down; you need to be able to stop yourself as quickly as possible-you pick up speed at an alarming rate as soon as you fall. You also need to be able to self arrest if you are on a rope team and one member falls in a crevasse, otherwise you will get pulled in too. Then, you use the axe to set up a belay and rescue pulley system. Another reason not to have rubber on the handle.
    Self-arrest position-hand on axe head (in my case, left hand), shaft across your chest at an angle, other hand down the shaft to hold point off the snow (feet up also so you don't catch a crampon point and cartwheel down the hill; all your weight on the axe head to drive the pick into the snow and slow you down.

    If you have an axe, take a class; the first time I used one, I got a bit of rudimentary instruction from a friend, but if I had fallen, I would have been pretty well screwed from lack of real knowledge about how to stop myself.

    My philosophy is if you think you need an ice axe, you better damn well know how to use it.

  9. #39
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomD
    My philosophy is if you think you need an ice axe, you better damn well know how to use it.
    This is a good philosophy about just any old tool. Clearly, the sharper / pointer / heavier / more powerful the tool, the more important it is. Proper technique in any endeavor makes it more enjoyable and safer. Anything worth doing is worth doing right. Yada yada yada...

    Tim
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

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