Ice Axes for Safe Mountaineering

When trekking across glaciers, high mountain passes and other areas featuring potentially dangerous snow and ice, it is vital to possess an ice axe. There are numerous types of ice axe from those suited to walking to others designed for climbing frozen waterfalls, for example. Whatever the type of ice axe you choose to purchased, you will need to ensure that it is of the appropriate size and that you know exactly how to use it. 

Ice axes should be too short or too long in size. Typically, the bottom of the ice axe should dangle approximately two inches off of the floor when held by its held with an outstretched arm. This renders the ice axe less cumbersome when the user is ascending steep slopes. You will however, find conflicting advice relating to the appropriate size of ice axes. Many people now advise purchasing even shorter ice axes with shaft lengths of between 55 and 60 centimeters in length. These can be instantly deployed for stopping sliding following a fall. The action of preventing sliding is termed self-arrest. Others disagree and state that ice axes should be longer in length in order to prevent falls and slips in the first instance.

Before mountaineering, it is essential to learn and regularly practice the life-saving technique that is self-arrest. This technique is used by those who have been unfortunate enough to slip and fall and find themselves sliding down steep ice and snow. If the individual has not learned to self-arrest then they risk gaining speed when sliding and this could result in injury or death. It is essential that this technique has been learned through proper instruction and that it is practised frequently. The self-arrest technique involves a climber who finds themselves sliding turning themselves over into a face-down position with the mountaineering ice axe underneath them. The point of the ice axe is driven into the ice or snow to slow the climber down and eventually call a halt to the sliding motion. It is for this reason that climbers should never be without their mountaineering ice axes. Mountaineering is a great way to have fun while keeping in shape and can be part of anyones Fitness World.

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