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Thread: Ice Axe Length

  1. #16
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougPaul
    Yet another thought--probing glaciers for crevasses is a little easier on one's back if one's axe is a little on the long side. I've read suggestions that a ski pole (with the basket removed) or a probe pole make good alternatives.
    I think that's one of those things that depends upon the individual. As I said in my post above -

    When slabbing along a steep slope and using it for a probe, you'll wish for a shorter one

    - if the slope is steep, then the continual raising it high over one's head is not only tiring, but makes it difficult to plunge it in the direction you intended if it's too long.

    But "too long" is an individual choice. The above is my personal preference.

    Thank goodness Marty didn't inquire about the pros and cons of leashes in the same thread...

  2. #17
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rooney
    I think that's one of those things that depends upon the individual. As I said in my post above -

    When slabbing along a steep slope and using it for a probe, you'll wish for a shorter one

    - if the slope is steep, then the continual raising it high over one's head is not only tiring, but makes it difficult to plunge it in the direction you intended if it's too long.
    Also depends upon whether you are going uphill, on the level, or downhill. The operator just has to be flexible. (Yes, the pun was intended...)

    Thank goodness Marty didn't inquire about the pros and cons of leashes in the same thread...
    Shhhh!

    Doug

  3. #18
    Junior Member Daubie's Avatar
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    I've been following along with great interest, as an ice axe purchase is in my immediate future. So, sorry, but.........

    What are the pros and cons of the axe leashes, and what choices are availavble. Marty is probably typing out the same question, but I'll see if I can beat him to the punch

  4. #19
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daubie
    I've been following along with great interest, as an ice axe purchase is in my immediate future. So, sorry, but.........

    What are the pros and cons of the axe leashes, and what choices are availavble. Marty is probably typing out the same question, but I'll see if I can beat him to the punch
    Well, here's a start:

    Pros: The leash can aid in climbing to provide additional leverage. And, in the event of a fall, the axe won't be lost if it slips out of your hand.

    Cons: If you fall and loose control of the axe, you may be injured by it.

    Anyone else want to add more?

  5. #20
    Senior Member cbcbd's Avatar
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    Leashes...

    Pro: Good to have if you have to swing the axe over your head into the snow/ice (piolet traction? in the proper french)

    Con: When zigzagging up a slope you have to keep switching the leash from hand to hand - you could attach it to your harness (if wearing one) to help with that.

    Honestly, usually my axe leash just ends up spending most of the time wrapped around the head - which also helps keep your hand warmer when holding the axe.
    Doug

  6. #21
    Senior Member giggy's Avatar
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    I mostly use leashes on a mountaineering axe to anchor myself to the mountain if resting or whatever. If I do have a harness on - I do what cbcbd does - clip into to the harness.

    I climbed Rainier switching from hand to hand and lets just say that was tedious. Now - it gets clipped.

    If your falling on an controllable slide down steep snow - you got bigger problems than losing your axe.

  7. #22
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Other uses of a leash:
    * If they are too long, you can trip or become tangled in them
    * Some leashes can come between an axe point and the ice/snow when placing the point in the ice/snow. Proper sizing and technique can help here.
    * If you fall, the leash keeps the axe points close enough to injure you.
    Oops--I guess those are cons...

    Basically, I use a leash when I am in a place such that if I drop the axe, I will lose it and when ice climbing to take the weight off my hands. Otherwise, the lease is just a nuisance.

    Much of this was covered in the thread "Ice axe technique" http://www.vftt.org/forums/showthread.php?t=15140. The thread also includes my design for a leash good for both technical and non-technical use.

    Doug

  8. #23
    Junior Member Daubie's Avatar
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    Great info as usual from you guys. Thanks for the link DougPaul. Also good stuff!

    Now its time to move this show north a couple of hundred miles. As you know, its the last weekend to bag some winter peaks! See you on the trail. Thx.

  9. #24
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    2 more cents from me if I may. Leashes are the way to go, I tried the cord to my waste route and found the tangling of the cord to much of a hassle. Poles verses an axe, if I had a wooden nickle for every jabroney Ive seen on steep snow bending a trecking pole trying to use it like an ice axe, well I guess I would just have alot of wooden nickles but anywho. Bottom line if your a true, I mean true mountain climber, you will own an ice axe, dont get me wrong, I love mee trecking poles, their sleek, give me 4 legs and the stability of a 4 wheel drive, BUT on steep snow, aka lions head winter route, King ravine and such, I have a whole umbrella can full of sharp big boy ice axes.
    P.S. The girls will fawn all over you when they see that axe.

  10. #25
    Senior Member Pete_Hickey's Avatar
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    I like a long axe with a leash. The reason? When I use my axe (which isn't often), I put the pole in my pack, and use the axe instead. I use it as a pole with additional features. I'm not using the leash when I'm using the axe as a non-pole.

    But that's me.
    There's no place like 127.0.0.1

  11. #26
    Senior Member bignslow's Avatar
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    Here's a neat alternative for the people that can't decide between an ice ax and a trekking pole:
    http://en.petzl.com/petzl/SportProduits?Produit=433

  12. #27
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bignslow
    Here's a neat alternative for the people that can't decide between an ice ax and a trekking pole:
    http://en.petzl.com/petzl/SportProduits?Produit=433
    This has been pointed out before.

    IMO, inferior for use as either an axe or a pole.

    Doug

  13. #28
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougPaul
    This has been pointed out before.

    IMO, inferior for use as either an axe or a pole.

    Doug
    Yes, I tend to agree. I was surprised to see that it did pass safety certification, but even so - I just wouldn't trust the tip. Using an axe as a probe is tiring, and even with the basket off, it won't slip cleanly thru the snow. You want as little friction as possible.

    And, on a glissade - my concern would be the tip would snap quickly when it's used as a brake.

    Another model - I think it's called the Whippet, is sometimes mentioned. I think it's a bit gimmicky as well.

  14. #29
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rooney
    Another model - I think it's called the Whippet, is sometimes mentioned. I think it's a bit gimmicky as well.
    A whippet is a ski pole with a built-in pick on the handle for self-arrest when skiing. I think of it as an add-on to a pole rather than a substitute for an axe.

    http://www.backcountry.com/store/BLD...-Ski-Pole.html

    Doug

  15. #30
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Any time you have one tool masquerading as two tools, it's not optimum for either use. Still, it may be an acceptable compromise.

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

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