Author Topic: Ice axe for winter walking  (Read 683 times)

Hillhiker1

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Ice axe for winter walking
« on: 19:10:31, 18/12/18 »

I'm currently thinking of getting an ice axe for safety use in non technical winter walking (not scrambling or climbing) I'm 6ft tall and I've been looking at this on Go outdoors:


https://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/black-diamond-raven-axe-grip-leash-65cm-p212037


Can any of you advise on whether this would be suitable, or if not; what would be better?


Thanks in advance




sussamb

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Re: Ice axe for winter walking
« Reply #1 on: 19:18:24, 18/12/18 »
What sort of walking are you doing that makes you feel you need an ice axe?  Will you be going where you need an ice axe, and therefore also crampons?  You'll also need some instruction if you want to be able to use both correctly.


These days I avoid anywhere that need both  O0
Where there's a will ...

Hillhiker1

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Re: Ice axe for winter walking
« Reply #2 on: 19:26:19, 18/12/18 »

Walking in moderate snowy conditions on gentle Yorkshire dalesy type terrain (Ingleborough for example) There's been times in the past where I've managed perfectly well without. But by the same token had the thought "If I slipped here I could be in trouble". Over the years I've often thought that maybe I should at least carry an axe....
I'm currently under great pressure off Mrs HH to think of a Christmas pressie for me or else (Telling her I don't want owt doesn't cut it :D ).
So I thought maybe I could spend some cash on an axe..

gunwharfman

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Re: Ice axe for winter walking
« Reply #3 on: 20:14:35, 18/12/18 »
I've never bought an axe, only thought about it from time to time.

Some years ago I walked down from the summit of Hellvellyn, via Striding Edge in the winter with two friends. It was a sunny and a bitterly cold day and had been like this for over a week.

We walked beyond the stone wall into a large steeply sloping grass field with a stone wall at the bottom.

We relaxed and were chatting away, when suddenly one of my friends, without warning instantly slipped and careered down the grass slope on his back! The field was a solid sheet of ice and we had not noticed! We were rooted to the spot and could only watch him slide away from us! Luckily he managed to hit the stone wall at the bottom with his feet, it could have been so easily his head!

We managed to get down to him, his hands were cut badly because he tried to use them to stop himself and his trousers were rather shredded at the bum area. His small rucksack helped him but that too was really damaged as well.

Lots of people came to help and we managed to get him down to Glenridding. He went to bed in a state of pain and shock. Although his hands were still painful, by the morning he had recovered and we then drove home.

Owen

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Re: Ice axe for winter walking
« Reply #4 on: 20:15:24, 18/12/18 »
It's a good walking axe but as Sussamb says you real need crampons to go with them and more importantly some training in how to use them.

Slowcoach

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Re: Ice axe for winter walking
« Reply #5 on: 20:17:46, 18/12/18 »
There are some really good videos on Youtube about choosing the right type of axe..shape, length etc and how to use them properly.
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BuzyG

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Re: Ice axe for winter walking
« Reply #6 on: 20:52:38, 18/12/18 »
That looks like a decent walking axe. I would recommend going into a store and handling one before you buy.  Mine is a Basic Grivel Walking axe and has a equally simple plastic sheath converting the area where you natrualy hold the axe when walking.  This means that far less heat is transferred out of your hand into the metal head of the axe, so your hand is warmer. You also need to ensure the axe is the correct length, as a walking axe is a walking stick for steeper ground, hence longer than a climbing axe and in proportion to your height.


 Unless you are walking on pretty steep ground, then you might be better off using micro spkess not full Crampons.  I have used my axe and micro spikes a number of times now on Dartmoor.  I can't ever envisage a situation where Crampons would be either more suitable or safer.


I have recently added a pair of C1 crampons to my winter walking kit, however the only time I will be carrying them will be on much steeper slopes such as Snowdonia, Lakes and North of the border.
« Last Edit: 21:06:29, 18/12/18 by BuzyG »

Hillhiker1

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Re: Ice axe for winter walking
« Reply #7 on: 21:14:20, 18/12/18 »

Cheers Guys, like you  BuzyG, I have, and use microspikes where appropriate. It the terrain get such that I need proper crampons; I won't be going. I'm not out for peril, I just figured a walking axe might be useful on moderately sloping ground where there's snow banks I can't avoid.
I won't be walking the high fells in full winter conditions.
I had a situation earlier in the year ascending Harter fell from the Long sleddale side, as I got higher, I hade to cross some quite large banks of frozen snow. I managed with my walking pole and planting my feet in previously frozen boot prints. At the time I thought that maybe I could have done with an ice axe at that point; rather that using my [email protected] method.

Innominate Man

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Re: Ice axe for winter walking
« Reply #8 on: 23:07:20, 18/12/18 »
Good choice HH and for going for that length, any shorter would be of less use for someone over 6' tall.
I only have climbing axes and use the axe (of the pair) on steep ground when approaching/leaving the crag/hill. It is 55cm and comes into its own the steeper the ground: You may know already that the axe should be held in the uphill hand - hence it is closer to the ground than would otherwise be the case.
Of course this can become a pain in the xxse when moving up continuous zig zags   :D  To save changing hands you could of course simply walk backwards   ::)


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Mel

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Re: Ice axe for winter walking
« Reply #9 on: 23:19:37, 18/12/18 »
Genuinely curious question ... why is an ice axe more useful? As in, better than walking poles and microspikes? ... for the walking described below...


It the terrain get such that I need proper crampons; I won't be going. I'm not out for peril, I just figured a walking axe might be useful on moderately sloping ground where there's snow banks I can't avoid.


My knowledge of ice axes is zero so I'm genuinely curious why one might be useful/needed if a walk isn't a full on winter snowy mountain experience.
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Pitboot

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Re: Ice axe for winter walking
« Reply #10 on: 03:12:41, 19/12/18 »
Genuinely curious question ... why is an ice axe more useful? As in, better than walking poles and microspikes? ... for the walking described below...


(Try doing a self arrest on any icy slope with a walking pole and you will get your answer. An axe is made to keep you from sliding and hurting yourself, a walking pole , or two, is not. Also, try breaking a trail across an icy path with a pole, the axe is made to do the job efficiently.)



My knowledge of ice axes is zero so I'm genuinely curious why one might be useful/needed if a walk isn't a full on winter snowy mountain experience.


(I walk in the Lakes mainly, and when I see the tops covered in snow the axe is taken on every walk. You cannot rely on weather forecasts all the time, and they cannot warn you of ice and snow in every gully or on every path. Snow and ice does not always lie on the tops, it can be encountered anywhere in the hills. An axe is just safety equipment and a bit of insurance just in case. Both the wife and I use a DMM Cirque, Made in the UK, excellent kit which will never let you down,)

richardh1905

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Re: Ice axe for winter walking
« Reply #11 on: 08:48:16, 19/12/18 »

Guide to choosing the correct length.



https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/ice-axe.html


PS - the Raven looks like a decent walking axe.

richardh1905

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Re: Ice axe for winter walking
« Reply #12 on: 08:55:26, 19/12/18 »
Genuinely curious question ... why is an ice axe more useful? As in, better than walking poles and microspikes? ... for the walking described below...

My knowledge of ice axes is zero so I'm genuinely curious why one might be useful/needed if a walk isn't a full on winter snowy mountain experience.



An ice axe is primarily for self arrest if you slip on a snow slope, although can be used to steady yourself on a slope, and for cutting toe holds in hard snow.


I went up Fairfield last February: snow conditions were excellent but the snow was hard - so hard that it was difficult to kick a step, despite wearing heavy winter boots, and I did use the axe to cut a few steps in a steep gully. Whilst on the walk, I was surprised and a little dismayed to see so many people using poles instead of an ice axe - they would have been in trouble had they taken a fall.
« Last Edit: 22:31:02, 19/12/18 by richardh1905 »

April

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Re: Ice axe for winter walking
« Reply #13 on: 14:06:40, 19/12/18 »
Like others have posted, you don't necessarily have to be on the higher fells to need crampons and or ice axe.

We went up Ling Fell (373m) once. There was no snow on it all. During the walk it started snowing and it was lying as wet icy snow as we descended, incredibly slippery. We had taken microspikes with us but no crampons or ice axe thinking they wouldn't be needed. We put the microspikes on to descend and they continually balled up with the wet snow and they were useless. I slipped onto to my backside quite a few times. Our crampons would have been the best thing to use, they have anti balling plates.

Once on the path down from Mousthwaite Comb, I think I'd been on Blencathra, I encountered thick ice at about 350m. Crampons were needed to get safely across. There was no snow or ice higher up on the fell. I was pleased I had crampons with me.

Back to the OP, that looks like the perfect walking ice axe  :)
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Mel

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Re: Ice axe for winter walking
« Reply #14 on: 21:49:58, 19/12/18 »
Thank you Pitboot, Richard and April for the clarification  :)


Apologies to Hillhiker for the thread hijack  :-[



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