Ice Axe Basics

An iceaxe can be used by mountaineers to tackle icy conditions. The ice knife can be used to cut steps on ice and climb cliffs. It can also be used as a rescue tool for hikers or skiers stuck on snowy terrain.

Ice Axe Head & Spike

The head of an Ice Axe Use for Beginners consists of the pick and adze. It is typically made of metal and can be serrated on the bottom to increase its gripping power. The adze has a flat, wide surface and is used to cut snow and step on ice.

The shaft is the part connecting the head and the spike. It is generally made of lightweight metals, such as titanium or aluminium. The shaft may be straight or slightly curved.

Spike is the sharp tip at bottom of shaft. It penetrates snow to improve stability and safety.

Leash Stop- A rubber keeper (or a metal stud) that prevents the leash from sliding off of the iceaxe.

Head – a wide and broad part of the ice axe, it features the pick and adze, and can be clipped to a leash or carabiner.

Handle – the narrow and compact part of the ice axe, it is normally wrapped with a rubber or plastic grip. It can be a single-handed or double-handed grip. It is often attached to a shaft with an elastic cord or nylon cord.

Self-Arrest Grips – When climbing steep slopes with an iceaxe, hold it with the pick facing forward and the adze facing backwards. To provide a secure grip, wrap your thumb around the adze.

To stop a fall, drive the pick in the snow with your feet pointed downwards. This can be done quickly, if you lie down on your stomach.

This technique should be practiced many times before your trip, especially on gnarly slopes to ensure you are comfortable.

A great way to get used to your axe is to practice the self arrest position with your head high. Once you have mastered the technique, you can use your axe as a walking stick or hiking aid on more difficult terrain.

To prevent falling, you can plant the adze into the snow while you walk uphill. You have two options when it comes to creating a snow anchor: either drive the axe vertically using a sling or clip a sling to a notch (the UIAA requires this hole for all CEN ratings), or you can hold your axe horizontally with one hand and plant the adze with each step uphill.

It is important to understand the purpose of an ice-axe and to select one that meets your needs for short-term or long-term use. An ice axe is a vital tool in every climber’s arsenal. It can make the difference between a safe trip and an emergency

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