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Topic: ice axes, axe lengths< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
 Post Number: 1
wildmann Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 25 2013, 9:05 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

hi! have quick question; am just looking for an axe for self rescue/assist! not for climbing up rock! just emergency! should i get a longer axe for using as a pole when hiking in deep snow? or just an emergency axe strapped to pack in-case? why would you use a longer shaft axe,compared to a shorter shaft? 55cm-70cm? thanks!
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 25 2013, 9:25 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

An ice axe is never used on rock.

A longer shaft allows some stability aid while crossing a snow slope as often happens when following a trail high or zigzagging up a slope. Also then when used in a self arrest the two nasty ends are safely beyond your body. It's always useful to practice self arrests when you have a huge, safe, runout, no rocks, trees, cliffs or unfrozen lakes at the bottom. The one starting when you're sliding downhill head first on your back can take some practice to get automatic and in a fall the faster you get to the right position the slower you'll be going and the easier will be the stop.

Practice with some friends or better yet take a one day snow hiking class somewhere that includes self arrests, that way if you wind up stabbing yourself, and it happens, there'll be people to help. That's the other reason to practice, get it right so you'll stop if needed and won't stab yourself doing it.  It's actually sort of fun, like snow sledding without the sled. Maybe like bodysurfing.

Being able to reliably use one opens up weeks and weeks of extra hiking in places like California. Enjoy!
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 25 2013, 9:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You should go to a mountaineering class and get some experience in using an axe before trying to put self arrest into practice. Less chance of impaling yourself with actual practice. Axes aren't for climbing up rock.

Length of the axe has to do with how you intend to use it. There's a bit of information on this in Freedom of the Hills.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 25 2013, 9:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

here.  Read this.  

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 25 2013, 10:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

QUOTE
or just an emergency axe strapped to pack in-case?

If it's on your pack, you can't reach it in an emergency.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 25 2013, 10:21 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

If you need an emergency axe, a short one will do just fine. Look at used gear stores. You can pick one of for pennies on the dollar.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 26 2013, 8:47 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Think about walking with it in your hand, holding it by the head with your arm hanging down at your side. You don't want it to drag the ground and it would be impractical to have one as long as a cane. But you want it long enough to lean on climbing up steep slopes and to knock snow balls off your crampons. Shorter is easier to carry but you want to do these things without too much bending at the waist.

If you are a taller guy, get a longer one. Carry it around the store for a few minutes and tap the soles of your shoes occasionally. I'm 6' and I think mine is maybe 70 mm - not the longest but on the longer side.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 26 2013, 9:08 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(toejam @ Nov. 26 2013, 7:47 am)
QUOTE
Think about walking with it in your hand, holding it by the head with your arm hanging down at your side. You don't want it to drag the ground and it would be impractical to have one as long as a cane. But you want it long enough to lean on climbing up steep slopes and to knock snow balls off your crampons. Shorter is easier to carry but you want to do these things without too much bending at the waist.

If you are a taller guy, get a longer one. Carry it around the store for a few minutes and tap the soles of your shoes occasionally. I'm 6' and I think mine is maybe 70 mm - not the longest but on the longer side.

This.

Some climbers prefer shorter (and therefore lighter) axes, but a longer axe is useful as a general purpose support/aid for a hiker/scrambler in a way that a short one is not. (Think a third support on shifting scree, crossing streams, etc, as well as a safety aid on snow slopes.) A short axe is really only useful on steep snow/ice.

And, as others have said, find a gentle slope with a safe run-out and practice your self-arrest technique.

Many places that are miserable to traverse after the snow has melted out are much more pleasant travel on snow earlier in the season.
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hoosierdaddy Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 26 2013, 12:08 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(cweston @ Nov. 26 2013, 6:08 am)
QUOTE

(toejam @ Nov. 26 2013, 7:47 am)
QUOTE
Think about walking with it in your hand, holding it by the head with your arm hanging down at your side. You don't want it to drag the ground and it would be impractical to have one as long as a cane. But you want it long enough to lean on climbing up steep slopes and to knock snow balls off your crampons. Shorter is easier to carry but you want to do these things without too much bending at the waist.

If you are a taller guy, get a longer one. Carry it around the store for a few minutes and tap the soles of your shoes occasionally. I'm 6' and I think mine is maybe 70 mm - not the longest but on the longer side.

This.

Some climbers prefer shorter (and therefore lighter) axes, but a longer axe is useful as a general purpose support/aid for a hiker/scrambler in a way that a short one is not. (Think a third support on shifting scree, crossing streams, etc, as well as a safety aid on snow slopes.) A short axe is really only useful on steep snow/ice.

And, as others have said, find a gentle slope with a safe run-out and practice your self-arrest technique.

Many places that are miserable to traverse after the snow has melted out are much more pleasant travel on snow earlier in the season.

Great advice here!

The "general" train of thought that I taught for the Winter Travel Course of The Mountaineers is that an ice axe, when held by the head with your arm hanging down by your side, that the tip should touch your ankle bone.  There were valid arguments for shorter axes and for longer ones, too.

By all means, PLEASE get some training prior to using this tool!!  There is a very real danger of being impaled if you don't know exactly what you're doing!


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 27 2013, 11:06 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE


(ol-zeke @ Nov. 25 2013, 9:30 pm)
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Great link, thanks.

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