How to Use an Ice Axe for Mountaineering

The Ice Axe is a very useful tool for mountaineers, climbers and backcountry ski tourers. It can be used for everything: biting into vertical ice walls, carving out emergency snow shelters in an emergency, and so much more.

It can also aid in avalanche rescue. As the name suggests, an ice axe is made up of a pick, an adze and a shaft. The shaft is usually made with lightweight metals such aluminum or titanium.

A longer shaft will reduce the possibility of slipping on slippery icy terrain. While a shorter shaft is designed to stop falls, it can also be used for preventing slips. To achieve both goals, a compromise must be reached.

You can choose an ice axe based on the kind of activities you want to do, and it’s important that you get one with the correct sized head, handle and shaft. A general mountaineering tool with a narrow pick, a slightly curved shaft and a narrow pick is best for climbing and hiking on glaciers. However, a technical-ice climbing tool with a wider pick and more curves would be better for climbing steep ice.

It is a good idea for beginners to start with a lower-priced model before moving on to more expensive models. There are many cheap options for  Ice Axe vs Crampons, some made out of plastic or fibreglass.

When using an ice axe for self-arrest, you should hold it with your uphill hand in a grip known as the “self-arrest grip.” Your thumb should wrap over the adze and your other fingers over the pick. This is a safe, efficient way to use your axe for a fall.

A self-belay grip can be used to help you fall from an ice axe. As you go uphill, keep your hand in the “self-arrest” grip and place the ice knife in the snow with each step. This is a great method to maintain your balance and makes it easier to grab the Ice Axe in the event of a falling.

You should not let your hands slip off the ice-axe, unlike the self-arrest grip. This can be dangerous and could cause you to fall. Many ice axes come equipped with a leash. It is difficult to remove the leash from the axe if it becomes loose.

The ice knife is a handy tool for navigating steep snow slopes without using crampons or boots. You can use your Ice Axe as a walking stick on gentler terrain.

You can make small steps on steeper sections by using your ice-axe’s adze to cut the snow from above. This is an effective way to overcome short, steep sections. However it should be avoided.

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