How to Use an Ice Axe

A skier or mountaineer will need an ice axe as a key piece of gear. It reduces slippage, trips on snow, offers security on steep terrain and can be used to stop a fall. It is important to realize that an Ice Axe Use for Beginners cannot do these tasks on its own. You will need instruction before you go into the backcountry.

Ice Axes come with a variety of sizes and designs to fit different terrain and conditions. These range from lightweight models to heavy-duty models that are ideal for technical ice climbing or mountaineering.

Straight shafts are great for general mountaineering and for walking uphill where balance is an issue while curved shafts are best for skiing and climbing on steeper, more technical terrain like slopes carved by crevasse or ice cliffs. Many axes have an adze. This is a flat shovel-like feature used to cut snow anchors and create snow caves.

Picks are a key feature on any ice-axe. There are two types of picks: classic curve or reverse curve. A reverse curve is the preferred choice for technical ice climbers, as they are easier to clean (pull out of the ice) than classic curve picks.

It is best to use an ice-axe with your hands close to its shaft, rather than extending your fingers beyond it. This keeps the axe’s weight down and allows it to be a better gripping tool during self-arrest.

Although the technique of using an ice-axe to stop a falling can seem complicated at first, it is easy to master once you get some practice. The easiest way to stop a fall is to fall on your stomach with your feet pointed downhill. Next, drive the pick into snow using the method described above. Finally, bring the shaft up to your head. This position should be maintained for as long as you can before you move down the slope. This will make it easier to get your body in the correct self-arrest mode.

Once you are in the right self-arrest position, move quickly and plant your ice axe below your head. This is the most secure way to do it. If you are sliding down the slope head first, this will stop your fall. However, you must be able execute the task quickly and accurately otherwise you won’t have the time to get your body in the right position.

It can be scary to fall with an Ice Axe. The risk of injury and death can be high. But it can be avoided by learning how to properly use an Ice Axe. The simplest way to do this is to practise the ice axe arrest technique on different slopes of different angles and snow conditions before you go out in the backcountry.

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