Ice Axe

Ice Axe

An ice axe can aid balance when walking but is mainly there to arrest a fall.

Image opposite courtesy of Dawn Fotheringham.

Ice Axe 

Ice Axes

An ice axe is an essential piece of equipment to take with you when you are faced with winter conditions.

Judging from the number of people that venture into the hills when there's snow & ice on the ground that do not carry an ixe axe, there must be some confusion about when an ice axe is required. What it does is to provide the tool that you may need if confronted on your walk with ice and snow, meaning that you can negotiate the hazards safer than without such equipment. The primary purpose of an ice axe is to arrest your fall, should you slip.

Types of Ice Axe

Walking axes tend to have longer shafts and traditional curved picks. Whereas axes used for climbing are shorter and have reverse curves, which are suited to more vertical climbing of hard snow and ice. Only one axe is required for winter walking, which is primarily used like  a walking stick, for balance.

Ice Axe Self Arrest

Ice axe arrest is what you do when a slip turns into a fall; you need to stop yourself.

At this time, self arrest is out of the scope of this site, and it's recommended that you go on a winter skills training course (see training section).