The Nepal S.A. is a non-technical ice axe ideal for trekking, classic snow climbs, rental programs, and schools. The carbon-steel head features a classically inclined pick with teeth along half its length. The body and pick are hot, drop forged in one piece, then the stamped adze is welded to it. The Ergal shaft surpasses UIAA norms for strength and durability; it is coated with black, epoxy-based paint. Version with shaft S.A..
Originally shafts were made in wood. This might make us smile today but all classical alpine endeavours and explorations were carried out with these tools, well deserving their part of the glory. The natural strength of wood, optimised with an elliptical shape, comfortable to hold but whose size couldn’t be reduced as this would automatically reduce the shaft’s strength. The new light alloys, from the aerospace industry used by Grivel make possible all sorts of shapes and sizes without reducing strength. This has produced the S.A. shaft. S.A. means “self arrest” - the possibility to brake a fall or even a simple slide by using the ice axe in the climber’s grip properly. To do this the ice axe must be held with the blade facing the slope so it can be plunged into the snow without having to turn it round. In other words the ice axe has to be held in the traditional way, blade facing forwards during the ascent. But on the way down the grip must be changed so that the blade is again facing the slope. If the climber falls it will be easy to grip the lower end of the shaft with the free hand and brake leaning his whole body weight against the ice axe. A test run on an easy slope helps to learn how to do it, ready for whenever it’s needed. But why is the shaft slightly curved rather than straight as normal? Again, the introduction of extremely strong and sophisticated materials has allowed us to change shapes to bring improvements, previously impossible. By gripping the shaft as described earlier, with the blade always facing the slope, a slightly curved shaft penetrates the snow at a better angle than a straight shaft, increasing its resistance to extraction. The resistance is always perpendicular to the plane of application of force so the geometry of a curved shaft is better than a straight one. This is true, as can be seen in the drawing, both when ascending and descending. The S.A. shaft brings together a series of advantages for the average climber who doesn’t want anything extreme but needs the safety advantages that Grivel’s new tool provides.