When you’re climbing on ice, an ice axe is a must-have tool. It can help maintain your balance, stop slippage, and even brake you if it’s falling.
The best ice axes are reliable, durable, and lightweight. They offer many benefits and features that make them ideal to use for mountaineering or climbing, hiking, skiing, or touring on icy terrain.
How to Use an Ice Axe
Climbing with an electric ice axe is a wonderful way to enjoy winter climbing’s beauty and challenges without the need for crampons. It’s also great for practicing basic winter climbing skills such self-arresting and snowshoeing.
You should start by learning how to load and swing your Ice Axe Use for Beginners properly. It is best to practice on a small slope, or in your yard. If you’re feeling comfortable with this technique, you can then move on to larger slopes or more technical winter climbs.
Once you feel confident with your axe, you should switch to the “self-belay” grip described above, which is more useful when you’re climbing or descending steep snow slopes. This is achieved by holding the pick at the intersection between the shaft’s head and the shaft, with your thumb wrapped around the pick. You can then plunge the pick into the snow with every step and pull up on the ice axe to help you uphill or downhill.
How to Perform Self-Arrest
You will need to use your ice-axe to self-arrest when you fall from a ridge, or on an ice slope. This is important for your safety, especially if you’re a beginner or new to mountaineering.
There are many ways to do a self-arrest. One way is to kick your toes into snow, then to turn your body so that you have your chest against the snow. Next, place the axe in the snow with your head up and your feet down.
This is a good way to learn how to do it. This will help you understand the proper positioning for arresting, and will also ensure that you’re using the ice axe correctly.
You can also practice advanced self arrest by kicking your feet into the snow and turning your body to make your head upslope and your feet downwardsslope. Your ice-axe is under you. This is the most difficult to perform, but it will save hundreds of feet from falling downhill on icy slopes or rock falls.
Spikes are not as essential for a walking/non-technical ice axe, but they do make it easier for your ice axe to penetrate more deeply into the snow when used as a vertically-oriented snow anchor. They are especially helpful when the ice is thick and hard or you are trying to dig steps in the ice.