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Thread: General Mountaineering Ice Axe vs An Actual Ice Axe

  1. #46
    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Great info. Oddly, in MFOTH, The axe is supposed to be used before crampons. How often do we bring both Micro's and 12- point crampons? If you just bring the Mciro's you should be ready to bail if you get ice that would overwhelm your footwear. (Yet we know some will prevail missing, or mis-using. equipment.)

    Only a few mentioned but expect most do here, a leash is mandatory. Axes have been found several hundred feet above their owners lifeless bodies before. Mountaineering axes are probably the proper tool for braking if glissading from Mt. Field on the steeper sections of the Mt. Avalon Trail or for those with butt sleds that descend trails as a fairly decent rate of speed.

    My most memorable axe use was with rotton snow in the Carters and not as intended. My snowshoe punctured the surface where it had melted underneath but slid forward to wear it was under a frozen crust I couldn't pull it through. Poking the crust with the pole might have provide results eventually, I took the axe off my pack and made quick work of the problem.
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

  2. #47
    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra View Post
    Personally, I think it's a stretch to think climbers were tougher or harder back "In the day". ...
    Maybe, but olde Guy Waterman would take strong exception to that opinion!

    I believe he once re-enacted the first ascent of Pinnacle Gully wearing period clothing and using period equipment. The period was the 1930s!

    God knows what he’d think of dry-tooling on a modern mixed route.
    Last edited by ChrisB; 12-11-2022 at 04:01 PM.
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  3. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    How often do we bring both Micro's and 12- point crampons? .
    I have microspikes/Hillshounds and my 10 pt G-10 Crampons on every Winter hike (once ice starts forming obviously). I own G-12's but don't currently have boots for them because of all the problems I've had with cold feet and finding a brand of boot that doesn't destroy me feet.

  4. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra View Post
    I did a winter Pemi loop in wooden snowshoes with no traction under them, not that I would recommend it, lol.
    My first snowshoe "hike" was back in the late 80's using old, rental wooden snowshoes from Baldy's Store on the Kanc. It was definitely an adventure on any kind of incline with nothing to grab onto. I wore basketball sneakers with wool socks stuffed in Ziploc freezer bags to keep dry, jeans and a ski jacket with Budweisers in all the pockets for hydration. Modern hikers are soft....

  5. #50
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisB View Post
    Maybe, but olde Guy Waterman would take strong exception to that opinion!

    I believe he once re-enacted the first ascent of Pinnacle Gully wearing period clothing and using period equipment. The period was the 1930s!

    God knows what he’d think of dry-tooling on a modern mixed route.
    Ok, Guy is an exception for sure. Back when he maintained the FRT, I used to run into him up there. Spooky guy, I think I saw him a few times before he felt like talking to me. I believe he was the first person to climb every 4k from each point of the compass. That takes a minute to comprehend.

  6. #51
    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra View Post
    Ok, Guy is an exception for sure. Back when he maintained the FRT, I used to run into him up there. Spooky guy, I think I saw him a few times before he felt like talking to me. I believe he was the first person to climb every 4k from each point of the compass. That takes a minute to comprehend.
    Yes, he was a bit odd. I first met him when he was caretaking Grey Knob in the Winter of 71 I think.

    We were staying at Crag Camp and he came over and gave my buddy and I the third degree trying to ascertain if we were qualified to head above tree line the next morning.

    We did Adams and Madison the next day. We came upon him at tree line descending back to the cabin in very low viz. He said he was just out taking a walk, but I've always assumed he was looking for us to make sure we found our way home at the end of that long day.
    Last edited by ChrisB; 12-11-2022 at 10:49 PM.
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  7. #52
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    These days people seem to have forgotten step cutting--it can be very helpful for dealing with short steep sections.

    A general mountaineering axe is a better tool for this than a short climbing axe/tool. (The technique for breaking out a step is different from the technique for setting a pick. You lift the handle as the pick strikes.)

    See "Climbing Ice"...

    Doug

  8. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougPaul View Post
    These days people seem to have forgotten step cutting--it can be very helpful for dealing with short steep sections.

    A general mountaineering axe is a better tool for this than a short climbing axe/tool. (The technique for breaking out a step is different from the technique for setting a pick. You lift the handle as the pick strikes.)

    See "Climbing Ice"...

    Doug
    That's a fair point. I don't know that I ever thought to try that. My assumption is always that I have to climb it as I find it.

  9. #54
    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    I only had to cut steps once. Learned it from reading "Climbing Ice" and from a 6 day AAI course on Mt. Baker.

    A group of friends joined me on a winter night hike of Noonmark Mountain in the Adirondacks. A section of the trail is notoriously icy, and my friends did not have front point crampons. So under the bright moon, I cut steps (only for about 20 feet). It made the difference, and everyone got up and down with no trouble.

    Thanks, DougPaul for reminding me of that fun memory!

  10. #55
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisB View Post
    Yes, he was a bit odd. I first met him when he was caretaking Grey Knob in the Winter of 71 I think.

    We were staying at Crag Camp and he came over and gave my buddy and I the third degree trying to ascertain if we were qualified to head above tree line the next morning.

    We did Adams and Madison the next day. We came upon him at tree line descending back to the cabin in very low viz. He said he was just out taking a walk, but I've always assumed he was looking for us to make sure we found our way home at the end of that long day.
    "71 ? Didn't realize Guy went that far back with the RMC. Interesting his name comes up in this thread as Guy was certainly a traditionalist when it came to gear. I spent a lot of time at RMC Camps back in The Winters of the late 80's and early 90's when Guy was sub caretaking. I was fortunate to get a look at his inner psyche and his inner circle of friends/climbers. I was actively training for my Alaskan Climbing trips at the time. We had deep conversations multiple times as Guy had lost his Son to the Alaskan arena. What was interesting was always the discussions about gear. Guy with his Army/Navy Surplus clothing adorned with his 90cm wooded shafted Ice axe. I was fortunate at the time to be associated and working closely with the outdoor industry, so I was adorned with the latest and greatest. Chip Brown in his book "Good Morning Midnight" copyrighted around 2003 made a point of parodying those moments. Yes he was odd but it was a privilege to have known and talked with him.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

  11. #56
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DayTrip View Post
    That's a fair point. I don't know that I ever thought to try that. My assumption is always that I have to climb it as I find it.
    With all due respect to Doug, cutting steps is not a modern-day technique at all. It's time consuming and almost unnecessary at this point. The main reason they cut steps, is because they only had 10-point crampons and front pointing was not an option. With modern 12-point crampons, you just front point up step ice, no need to cut steps.

  12. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra View Post
    With all due respect to Doug, cutting steps is not a modern-day technique at all. It's time consuming and almost unnecessary at this point. The main reason they cut steps, is because they only had 10-point crampons and front pointing was not an option. With modern 12-point crampons, you just front point up step ice, no need to cut steps.
    To be fair to DougPaul and some others here I think they are answering the question in the context of how I asked it - an unusual situation that I encounter maybe every 2-3 Winter hikes in specific terrain. I normally have 10 pt crampons and a softer general purpose boot so front pointing might not be an option for me so chopping a notch or two in the ice could be a valid option versus carrying an ice tool. I don't think he was providing general ice climbing advice. I think TCD's story was a good example. One time thing that worked in unusual circumstances.

  13. #58
    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Looks like above tree-line trekkers will get a chance to use crampons and ice axe this weekend.

    A deep thaw with rain for the summits, followed by a very quick hard freeze is forecasted. Even moderate slopes could be potentially dangerous.

    Do you know what to do if you find yourself on that slippery slope? Hope so! Be safe.
    Don't let your mind write a check your body canít cash

  14. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisB View Post
    Do you know what to do if you find yourself on that slippery slope? Hope so! Be safe.
    Stay home and drink imperial stouts....

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