Joined: Sat Mar 12, 2011 1:43 am Posts: 48 Location: Melbourne, Australia
Well after recently doing a summer recon mission to an Australian Peak called Mt Feathertop and looking at the climb back out of some of the chutes i think it time for an Ice Axe and crampons. Being Australian I know very little about climbing ice. Any tips would be great.
A few questions:
What Length? Curved Handle or straight? Do you use a leash?
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:24 pm Posts: 253 Location: Salzburg / Austria
(I assume, we are only talking about climbing up chutes, but not about vertical ice climbing, right?)
I prefer a curved shaft, as I then don't crash my fingers against the ice every time, when holding the axe on the shaft below the axe's head. My choice was a Petzl Summit axe.
I also use a Grivel Single Spring Leash, attached to my harness or backback's hipbelt. This way I avoid losing the axe when climbing on a rocky ridge using both hands, the axe briefly stored between back and backpack.
Length: if you only go steeps, you can go for a short axe. (eg. 50cm for a 190cm person) If you also want to have it suitable for low-angle glacier travel, choose a longer one. (approx long enough to reach your ankles, when holding the axe at the head) Mine is 60cm, I'm 191cm tall.
Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2010 11:41 am Posts: 266 Location: Altadena SoCal
RE Crampons: I recommend C.A.M.P. Stalkers over BD Contacts. They're cheaper, fit longer boots without an aftermarket long linking bar and come with a carrying case.
RE Ice Axe: x2 for FloImSchnee I use my poles for low angle travel and bring the shortest, lightest axe I can afford using it only in the steeps; under the theory, "if it's heavy I won't bring it." I strongly recommend two Whippets. Others don't. Here are all the discussions on Whippet use and mods.
Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2005 3:08 pm Posts: 237 Location: 109-blocks-of-watch-yo-f'n-back, CA
Unless you are going extremely vertical (like, Chamonix extreme vertical), you should do fine with aluminum crampons. Good enough for firm snow and low angle ice. I use Stubai Ultralights. Get a steel head lightweight axe with a straight shaft. Don't bother with a recurve - if you're asking advice here, you don't need it yet. When things are really hairy, I carry one whippet and use voile straps to splint my ice axe to my other pole for sort-of a whippet-plus. My thinking is that if I need two whippets, what I really need is an ice axe. Great reviews and advice here: http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Ice-Axe-R ... re#compare
i have a bd venom axe. its a hybrid so you can use it in walking stick mode which i do 95% of the time even in steep couloirs. its also slghtly curved so you can use it overhand when necessary. for normal glacier travel you want it hanging straight down close to the ground however if you are using it in steeps in cane mode you can go quite a bit shorter since you will always be placing it uphill. make sure you practice self arrest from a variety of fall positions and always hold the axe correctly. i dont use a leash but have been thinking about trying it this winter but i would never use a leash when riding down with axe in hand.
Have you seen K2s rescue shovel this year? Looks pretty sweet for someone who doesn't use an ax much. Ax head attaches to your shovel handle so if you don't use it often you don't feel stupid packing it around.
I have a pair of BD Venoms, one with the adze and one with the hammer. I usually carry the adze for general unknown stuff but if I intend to get into something more serious then I'll carry both. That really doesn't happen very often as I've found that one axe plus one Whippet gets me up most anything that I'm comfortable on.