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Ice Axes

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Re: Ice Axes

Postby Genesis » Mon Feb 06, 2012 8:16 pm

BD Raven Ultra 55cm for mountaineering, BD Vipers for waterfall ice. I'm 5'11, and I've found the shorter the better for a mountaineering ice axe.
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Re: Ice Axes

Postby JHH60 » Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:30 pm

If you're looking for a general mountaineering piolet, I just noticed that the local REI has a batch of REI Yeti axes (rebranded SMC axe, I believe the same as the SMC Capra) on clearance sale - something like $49. It's not something you'd want to take up WI5 but looks like a good snow & easy alpine ice axe, the price can't be beat, and it's made in the USA (if you care). You can go buy a pair of Cobras next season when you get hooked. 8)
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Re: Ice Axes

Postby DrGranola » Thu Feb 09, 2012 3:19 am

The Petzl Snow Walker has been a very decent general snow travel axe for up to about 50* slopes for me. The Black Diamond Raven is pretty similar. Both not too expensive...


http://www.backcountry.com/ice-axes

http://www.rei.com/category/4500002_Sno ... q/Ice+Axes
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Re: Ice Axes

Postby Trailboss88 » Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:13 am

I have the Omega Pacific Mountain Axe for general mountaineering. Inexpensive and beefy. Comes in different length.
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Re: Ice Axes

Postby Jedi5150 » Sun Mar 04, 2012 12:22 am

I just picked up a Grivel Air Tech Evo Hammer:
http://www.backcountry.com/grivel-air-t ... er-ice-axe

I'm not interested in ice climbing, but I wanted a tool for general hiking/ travel in snowy or icy conditions so that I can do more winter backpacking. It probably isn't the ideal tool, but here is my logic. I wanted a hammer for pounding tent stakes into hard ground. I don't ever see myself backpacking with a hammer, so having an ice tool with a hammer seemed logical. It looks like it will be too short (at 53 cm) for using in the traditional manner of sticking the spike in the snow, but who knows. Basically I wanted a lightweight hammer that could also serve other purposes in a pinch. It seems to fit the bill but I haven't actually put it to use yet.
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Re: Ice Axes

Postby BigMitch » Sun Mar 04, 2012 2:10 am

Since the requestor is new to climbing, here is a good primer from the American Alpine Institute on the different types of ice axes and their specific uses:

http://alpineinstitute.blogspot.com/201 ... -axes.html
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Re: Ice Axes

Postby Ben Beckerich » Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:33 pm

It's good to learn all you can, and good to get peoples' experiences and qualified opinions, but when it comes down to do, an ice ax is an ice ax, especially when you're new. You're going to change your perspective and mind on every climb for a while yet, as you develop your own style and come to proficiency in different techniques.

Right now, I use a Moser 60cm for a general ax, and go leashless, for switching back. An ax does very little for you as a hiking tool, and trekking poles do a LOT, so for as long as I'm "hiking," I'm using poles. I don't pull the ax off until I'm using it to making upward progress... and want a versatile short tool for high-dagger or traction positions.
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Re: Ice Axes

Postby drpw » Mon Mar 05, 2012 6:46 am

for general mountaineering i like the corsa nanotech. as light as you can get. you don't need it very long, who uses a piolet canne anyways? you should be good enough on your feet to not need a cane and if you still feel like you need one, use a trekking pole. i pretty much use mine exclusively to arrest a fall.

for steeper stuff i like the quarks.
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Re: Ice Axes

Postby seano » Mon Mar 05, 2012 3:07 pm

drpw wrote:i pretty much use mine exclusively to arrest a fall.

Interesting. I've used my general mountaineering axe for everything from moderate snow and neve, to very easy ice and mixed (both placing the the pick and wedging the pick or adze in cracks), to cooking sausages over a campfire. Then again, I also find piolet-canne useful sometimes. Maybe I just have bad balance.
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Re: Ice Axes

Postby Ben Beckerich » Mon Mar 05, 2012 7:04 pm

seano wrote:
drpw wrote:i pretty much use mine exclusively to arrest a fall.

Interesting. I've used my general mountaineering axe for everything from moderate snow and neve, to very easy ice and mixed (both placing the the pick and wedging the pick or adze in cracks), to cooking sausages over a campfire. Then again, I also find piolet-canne useful sometimes. Maybe I just have bad balance.


You probably just don't use trekking poles...? By the time I get to a point where I'm stowing my poles, I'm mostly past piolet canne terrain and into full self-belay, high-dagger, or traction terrain. If I didn't use polls, I'd probably have my ax out the moment I start up the mountain (and I'd use a lot longer ax). 3 legs are better than 2 (and 4 are better than either!).
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Re: Ice Axes

Postby drpw » Mon Mar 05, 2012 9:30 pm

if it works for you than it works for you. i just think that buying a long axe to use as a piolet canne is old school and most do it out of tradition more so than necessity. when you really think about it i think you will realize how little you use your axe to lean on. the point is to get the best tool for what you need it for and chances are you don't need your axe for a cane.
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Re: Ice Axes

Postby seano » Tue Mar 06, 2012 1:52 am

Ben B. wrote:You probably just don't use trekking poles...?

This -- Though some people swear by them, I think they're kind of a racket, and almost useless for people without joint problems. I'd rather carry a slightly longer axe than a pair of collapsible ski poles that spend most of their time on my pack. Besides, piolet-canne can be helpful on terrain where you may need to self-arrest.
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Re: Ice Axes

Postby Ben Beckerich » Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:41 am

seano wrote:
Ben B. wrote:You probably just don't use trekking poles...?

This -- Though some people swear by them, I think they're kind of a racket, and almost useless for people without joint problems. I'd rather carry a slightly longer axe than a pair of collapsible ski poles that spend most of their time on my pack. Besides, piolet-canne can be helpful on terrain where you may need to self-arrest.


Do you do heavy packs? Long approaches? Speed ascents?

I use the hell out of my poles- approach, I push off the pole with every step- saves the legs a lot, and definitely keeps balance over scree. I also like 'em for long, steep side-hilling traverses- extended pole down hill, shortened pole up hill. For any kind of speed, they're invaluable- last trip up Hood's south side, I was car to summit in 3:45 over soft snow with a 40lbs winter pack... step-kicking and shoving with the poles, just like on an elliptical machine. Powder baskets give great purchase in soft snow. I use them on descent too- basically skiing on my feet, using the poles to propel me down slope. Can turn a 3 hour descent into a 1 hour descent pretty easy...

I frackin' love 'em.
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Re: Ice Axes

Postby seano » Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:22 pm

Ben B. wrote:Do you do heavy packs? Long approaches? Speed ascents?

I avoid heavy packs when I can, but do plenty of long approaches and speed ascents. I also do lots of scrambling that requires hands, and often jog flats and downhills, both cases where poles are useless. Plus, I have puny T-rex arms, and want to save their strength for the scrambling ;-). When I have carried a heavy-ish pack (3-night camping), I haven't felt a disadvantage compared to my pole-carrying companions except at stream crossings, where I can usually find a stick.

For any kind of speed, they're invaluable- last trip up Hood's south side, I was car to summit in 3:45 over soft snow with a 40lbs winter pack... step-kicking and shoving with the poles, just like on an elliptical machine. Powder baskets give great purchase in soft snow. I use them on descent too- basically skiing on my feet, using the poles to propel me down slope. Can turn a 3 hour descent into a 1 hour descent pretty easy...

I find sliding, shuffling jog plenty fast for descending snow: when I was on Hood (August 2010), I made it down in about 1h20 with no poles.
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Re: Ice Axes

Postby asmrz » Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:38 pm

My take on this axe post is, ice axe is for technical ground. Adjustable ski poles are for everything else. Almost any terrain this side of 35-50 degrees can be done with just poles provided it is snow. Ice axe for me becomes useful when its length can reach the snow. That is, the slope gets to be steep enough so that the axe becomes useful. I think almost any mountainous terrain can be safely handled with pair of ski poles and a technical mountaineering tool like the BD Venom in 50-55 cm length.
I share the opinion that a long ice axe is something from the past, cumbersome, useless in anything but gentle walking terrain, has no balance in ones hand and generally is not recommended for mountains. The use of poles combined with short, good quality ice axe is the way to learn. Once you get the hang of it, you'll never go back to a long ice axe alone.
P.S. It was as early as 1970s, that Peter Habeler and Reinhold Messner sugested the combined use of these two tools, two adjustable poles and a short axe. Messner proceeded to use this combination on all of his 8,000 meter summits. Both these guys had their fingers in the early LEKI poles development.
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