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Ice Axes

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Re: Ice Axes

Postby JsinDeAZ » Tue Oct 20, 2009 3:20 pm

I bought a petzl axe this year since I just started hiking in August. On my last hike, I would have loved for it to be longer for use as trek, but wouldn't like that for climbing. Then, I just saw that Petzl makes a Snowscopic which is an axe with a retractable trek pole. I gotta have one...
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Re: Ice Axes

Postby BaronVonBergschrund » Tue Oct 20, 2009 3:39 pm

Gabriel wrote:For general mountaineering I use the Camp Corsa.

Which you can't even chop vegetables with.
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Sharing wisdom on Rock Climbing, Climbing Shoes, Rappelling, Layering, Eddie Bauer, Pants, Helmets, Ropes, Ice Axes, Tri-Cams, Carabiners

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Re: Ice Axes

Postby CO Native » Tue Oct 20, 2009 3:43 pm

Which I find myself doing so often in a steep couloir.

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Re: Ice Axes

Postby ascent+descent=fun » Tue Oct 20, 2009 3:45 pm

COBuckeye wrote:Typically you will grip the head of the ax such that your palm is on the top and your fingers curl around the head. This means that your palm will rest on the top of the head and the shaft will come down between your middle and ring fingers. Therefore an ax with a slightly wider head (to reduce pressure on your palm) and a narrow shaft to head connection point (to prevent you fingers from being spread too far apart) will be most comfortable in your hand. IMO the BD Raven (see England's avitar photo) fits these criteria and is therefore very comfortable.

indeed, the shaft needs to fit firmly and comfortably between your fingers for maximum balance and penetration.

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Re: Ice Axes

Postby BaronVonBergschrund » Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:09 pm

ascent+descent=fun wrote:
COBuckeye wrote:Typically you will grip the head of the ax such that your palm is on the top and your fingers curl around the head. This means that your palm will rest on the top of the head and the shaft will come down between your middle and ring fingers. Therefore an ax with a slightly wider head (to reduce pressure on your palm) and a narrow shaft to head connection point (to prevent you fingers from being spread too far apart) will be most comfortable in your hand. IMO the BD Raven (see England's avitar photo) fits these criteria and is therefore very comfortable.

indeed, the shaft needs to fit firmly and comfortably between your fingers for maximum balance and penetration.

I think that COBuckeye has it wrong. Your technique for gripping the head and shaft isn't as much about comfort as it is about technique. I find that I grip the head and shaft in short intervals, especially when changing positions. It is not important for me to have a wide head to reduce pressure on my palm because I rarely grip the head for a long period of time. I also think that if you are gripping the shaft between your fingers you are not prepared to use your tool quickly, and may have difficulty when presented with an obstacle you must overcome. Contrary to popular belief, you don't always have to penetrate fully on each stroke, and if you are putting too much effort into full penetration you may just wear yourself out.
Baron Von Bergschrund
Remember, remember, the third of December.
Sharing wisdom on Rock Climbing, Climbing Shoes, Rappelling, Layering, Eddie Bauer, Pants, Helmets, Ropes, Ice Axes, Tri-Cams, Carabiners

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Re: Ice Axes

Postby ascent+descent=fun » Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:15 pm

wise words

Re: Ice Axes

Postby Bean » Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:16 pm

I came in here to TWSS this:
ascent+descent=fun wrote:indeed, the shaft needs to fit firmly and comfortably between your fingers for maximum balance and penetration.


But the Baron just went above and beyond. Bravo.
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Re: Ice Axes

Postby Dex » Tue Oct 20, 2009 6:42 pm

BaronVonBergschrund wrote:I think that COBuckeye has it wrong. Your technique for gripping the head and shaft isn't as much about comfort as it is about technique. I find that I grip the head and shaft in short intervals, especially when changing positions. It is not important for me to have a wide head to reduce pressure on my palm because I rarely grip the head for a long period of time. I also think that if you are gripping the shaft between your fingers you are not prepared to use your tool quickly, and may have difficulty when presented with an obstacle you must overcome. Contrary to popular belief, you don't always have to penetrate fully on each stroke, and if you are putting too much effort into full penetration you may just wear yourself out.


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Re: Ice Axes

Postby LTbear » Tue Oct 20, 2009 8:17 pm

BaronVonBergschrund wrote:Grivel Air Tech Racing. Buy it short, if you get a long axe you will regret it later.


Thanks for the suggestion. What's the reason for buying short? I'm tall at 6'1 or 6'2; I would imagine a longer axe would be easier to use as walking support going up?

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Re: Ice Axes

Postby BaronVonBergschrund » Tue Oct 20, 2009 8:42 pm

LTbear wrote:Thanks for the suggestion. What's the reason for buying short? I'm tall at 6'1 or 6'2; I would imagine a longer axe would be easier to use as walking support going up?

If you get a longer ax, the steeper the slope gets the more awkward it becomes to use it. If all you are ever going to do is walk up trails and use the ax like a cane, then buy a long one. If you want to do some real snow climbs, buy a shorter ax and use footwork and/or trekking poles for balance on the low angle slopes, then use the shorter ax for the steep sections. Imagine a long ax on a 45-50 degree slope. You have to plunge the shaft into the snow as a self-belay to move upwards. The long ax makes you reach higher upslope and throws your balance off. I find that by the time I feel like I need the safety of my ax, the slope is already too steep to plunge a long ax effectively.

It is also lighter and easier to manage on your pack if it is short. I see a lot of people using the ax as a crutch, even on snow-free climbs. If you cannot climb a 14er in the summer without carrying an ice ax, you should reevaluate your skill sets.
Baron Von Bergschrund
Remember, remember, the third of December.
Sharing wisdom on Rock Climbing, Climbing Shoes, Rappelling, Layering, Eddie Bauer, Pants, Helmets, Ropes, Ice Axes, Tri-Cams, Carabiners

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Re: Ice Axes

Postby sunny1 » Tue Oct 20, 2009 8:46 pm



A picture is worth a thousand words! Thanks for the link, helpful!
My axe is a Petzl charlet snowalker
Last edited by sunny1 on Tue Oct 20, 2009 8:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ice Axes

Postby jimlup » Tue Oct 20, 2009 8:50 pm

LTbear wrote:
BaronVonBergschrund wrote:Grivel Air Tech Racing. Buy it short, if you get a long axe you will regret it later.


Thanks for the suggestion. What's the reason for buying short? I'm tall at 6'1 or 6'2; I would imagine a longer axe would be easier to use as walking support going up?
The Baron's advice (posted while I was writing this is dead on).

Here is a sizing advice from the Alpine Ascents gear list that I used when I bought my axe:

Ice Axe w/Leash. General mountaineering tool. Sizing is important: under 5’7” use a 60cm tool; 5’7”- 6’1” use a 65cm tool; over 6’1” use a
70cm tool. (Too short is preferable to too long). No rubberized grips-they are heavy and do not plunge well into the snow. Make sure that you have
a leash that is designed for use on a glacier axe. Please no technical leashes designed for ice climbing-they are too short, heavy, and not versatile.
Last edited by jimlup on Tue Oct 20, 2009 8:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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