- Ice axe
An ice axe is a multi-purpose
mountaineeringtool carried by practically every mountaineer. The narrow sense used here excludes ice tools for ice climbing.
An ice axe consists of at least five components:
*pick (1) — a hooked or curved end of the head that draws to a point set with teeth. The hooked design allows the axe to dig in faster when trying to
*head (2) — usually made of steel and includes the
pickand adze. One grips the head using either a self-arrest or self belaygrip. There is a hole in the centre of the head called a " carabinerhole" but it is mostly used for attaching a wrist leash.
*adze (3) — the flat, widest section of the head used for chopping steps in hard snow and ice. Ice climbing tools may have a hammer instead.
*shaft (6) — straight, with a uniform cross-section that is usually wider in the adze-to-pick direction than in the side-to-side direction, and is flat on the sides and smoothly rounded on the pick and adze sides. Traditionally, shafts were made of wood, but are now usually made of metal, e.g., aluminum or
titanium, or a composite material including some component such as fiberglass, Kevlaror carbonfilament.
ferrule(7) — a steel point at the bottom is used to plunge the ice axe into snow for stability, balance and safety. Sometimes used on rocky trails for balance, though one must take care not to dull the spike.
Ice axes are sometimes made or used with additional parts:
*leash (4) — webbing with an adjustable loop to secure the axe to hand. The leash is often secured to the shaft by a ring, constrained to slide a limited distance on the shaft.
*leash stop (5) — simply enough, keeps the leash from slipping off of the ice axe.
* snow basket (not shown) — similar to those typical on the lower ends of
ski poles, mounted temporarily with the shaft through its center, close to the spike, to keep the spike from sinking much deeper into snow when the axe is held by its head and used point-down for support or stability.
Ice-axe spike-to-head lengths range generally from 60 to 90 cm (or about 24 to 36 in.) in length, reflecting the target of reaching from loosely-closed hand (on the head) nearly to the ground. The mid-19th century 5-foot (1.5 m)
alpenstockancestors of modern ice axes, and shorter intermediate versions, had wooden shafts, usually of hickory, but the lighter weight and durability of late-20th-century and newer axes eliminate all but historical considerations as sources of interest in those earlier styles.
The ice axe is not only used as an aid to climbing, but also as a self rescue tool to stop an uncontrolled downhill slide.
backpacks designed with mountaineering tasks in mind will include at least one ice axe loop, mounted near the bottom of the vertical surface farthest from the wearer, each of which can secure one axe to that surface when it is not needed. These loops are effective, but their use is counter-intuitive, and often hard to grasp until experienced:
* The axe must be held with head up, and adze rather than pick pointing away from the vertical center-line of the pack, while the shaft is lowered through the loop until the pick and adze rest on the loop. This sounds illogical (and looks so, if correctly executed) since the shaft appears to be positioned to flop around against the pack wearer's legs, or the spike to stab them.
* These problems resolve when the procedure finishes with rotating the axe 180 degrees, with its head as axis: this moves the spike away from the pack to horizontal, and then upward to vertical. The center of the loop is then just above the axe's head, instead of below, and the adjacent portions of the loop wrap under the pick and adze respectively.
* Securing the shaft against the pack near the top of the pack makes the spike point fairly straight up, where any hazard it might offer is at least visible; the pick is flat against the back of the pack; and the short and relatively dull adze sticks out little if any beyond the side of the pack.
* The rating system on ice axes is determined by two groups that are shown on the axe as UIAA and/or CE certification.
Ice axes in history
An ice axe was infamously used in the assassination of
Leon Trotskyin 1940 [See Robert Conquest, "The Great Terror: A Reassessment", Oxford University Press, 1991, ISBN 0195071328, p.418 for a detailed account] and, more recently, the murder of Anthony Walker.
* [http://www.spadout.com/w/ice-axes/ Ice Axe for Mountaineering]
* [http://www.grivel.com/Storia/Storia_Det.asp?Cat=P History of the ice axe] at grivel.com, as of 2006-08-27
* [http://www.goxplore.net/guides/Ice_Axe GoXplore Guides article on the Ice Axe]
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Look at other dictionaries:
ice axe — ► NOUN ▪ a small axe used by climbers for cutting footholds in ice … English terms dictionary
ice axe — noun an ax used by mountain climbers for cutting footholds in ice • Syn: ↑ice ax, ↑piolet • Hypernyms: ↑ax, ↑axe * * * ice axe noun An axe used by mountain climbers to cut footholds in ice or compacted snow • • • Main Entry … Useful english dictionary
ice axe — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms ice axe : singular ice axe plural ice axes a metal tool that mountain climbers use to cut into ice to make places to hold onto with their hands or feet … English dictionary
ice axe — noun An axe used by mountaineers to cut footholds in the ice … Wiktionary
ice axe — noun a small axe used by climbers for cutting footholds in ice … English new terms dictionary
ice-axe — /ˈaɪs æks/ (say uys aks) noun an axe used by mountaineers, etc., to cut footholds in ice … Australian English dictionary
ice axe — also ice ax AmE noun (C) a metal tool, used by mountain climbers to cut into ice see also: ice pick … Longman dictionary of contemporary English
ICE-AXE — … Useful english dictionary
Ice climbing — Ice climbing, as the term indicates, is the activity of ascending inclined ice formations. Usually, ice climbing refers to roped and protected climbing of features such as icefalls, frozen waterfalls, and cliffs and rock slabs covered with ice… … Wikipedia
Axe — The axe, or ax, is an implement that has been used for millennia to shape, split and cut wood, harvest timber, as a weapon and a ceremonial or heraldic symbol. The axe has many forms and specialized uses but generally consists of an axe head with … Wikipedia