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Ice Axe Information

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Ice Axe Information

Postby Athos791 » Tue Dec 18, 2007 8:37 pm

Hey everyone, im looking to buy an ice axe, and had a few questions. Ive been doing some research about how long of a tool to get, and most places say that for me (im 6 feet 2 inches) i should get a tool thats 70 cm's, but lots of the reviews ive been reading at other shopping websites is that many people prefer a shorter one, and feel that for the larger degree slopes, the extra length just seems to get in the way. Any input would be appreciated...thanks in advance :)
"We go to the mountains to satisfy our own ambitions, not because others evaluate what we are doing." -Anatoli Boukreev

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Re: Ice Axe Information

Postby skier25 » Tue Dec 18, 2007 8:46 pm

I'd say that the steeper snow you climb, the shorter the axe can be. I am six-foot-one and I personally use one that's 65 inches long and I've never had any trouble. Make sure you get a nice light one too (don't compromise strength though).
Carry an ice axe and a clear mentality; they can both save your life.
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Re: Ice Axe Information

Postby caad4rep » Tue Dec 18, 2007 8:49 pm

I am 6'3" and use a 75cm BD Raven Pro for easy snow work or a "just in case" axe. If I'm going to be on something a little steeper, 45 degrees or steeper, I use a 64cm BD Venom. I would error on the side of too short over too long. A shorter axe is a little more versitle although it can be uncomfortable on low grade snow work.

What type of climbing are you looking at?

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Re: Ice Axe Information

Postby Kojones » Tue Dec 18, 2007 8:49 pm

I'm 6'2" and use an 80cm. Works for me and I like the extra length. You should be fine with a 70. These things are personal preference, so sometimes it takes a few tries to find the right one.

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Re: Ice Axe Information

Postby Athos791 » Tue Dec 18, 2007 8:51 pm

Thanks for the replies. Im looking to do a couple fourteeners in the snow next winter, and am doing some other low grade climbing in NH. I howeaver am just planning early for my trip to Mount Rainier (doing this cool training camp thing there).
"We go to the mountains to satisfy our own ambitions, not because others evaluate what we are doing." -Anatoli Boukreev

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Re: Ice Axe Information

Postby Pete M » Tue Dec 18, 2007 8:57 pm

Try before you buy. Rent or borrow and get what you like best :D

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Re: Ice Axe Information

Postby strat1080 » Tue Dec 18, 2007 9:35 pm

70-75cm would seem to make sense. It also depends on how you use the axe. While a shorter axe may make sense on steep ascents they will be proportionally more difficult to use going downhill as well(depending on descent technique used). Like I said it depends on how you use it. If you usually descend with your body outward and use your axe in the self-belay position a longer axe will be much easier on your knees and legs as you won't have to crouch down as much. For a general mountaineering axe(easy-moderate snow) 70-75 cm would be perfect. For steeper or icy conditions a short ice tool is more handy. Keep in mind that most falls happen on the way down so you are better off looking at what will be safer to use descending than what will be more "comfortable" while ascending. This is what I have read a mountaineering book that I've been reading recently. I'm 5'9 and a 65cm is perfect for me.
Quit whining and move your %$# up that mountain.

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Re: Ice Axe Information

Postby strat1080 » Tue Dec 18, 2007 9:37 pm

That is one tall axe you got there. :lol:

skier25 wrote:I'd say that the steeper snow you climb, the shorter the axe can be. I am six-foot-one and I personally use one that's 65 inches long and I've never had any trouble. Make sure you get a nice light one too (don't compromise strength though).
Quit whining and move your %$# up that mountain.

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Re: Ice Axe Information

Postby MountainHiker » Tue Dec 18, 2007 9:58 pm

I'm 5'10" and my axe is 75cm. When I started climbing the trend was longer than today. One of my friends used a 90cm axe. If you look at old pictures you'll see some of extreme length. While a short axe might be easier to handle on some steep slopes, there comes a point where on traverses a short axe has you bending over more than is good. Remember balance is key. I like the suggestion to try a couple axes before you buy.
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Re: Ice Axe Information

Postby gdub » Wed Dec 19, 2007 12:25 am

I seen suggestions from guide services that say when you are standing with your axe at your side, it should be several inches above the ground, maybe 4-6. So not only does your height matter, but your arm length.
I am 5'6" and have a 55cm and it works well (not that my measurements have any bearing on yours). Also, an ice axe should not be used as a walking stick, or so I am told. I have noticed that once you start to use it in that way, because of fatigue or whatever, it just sinks into the snow and makes ascending/descending that much more difficult.
GW

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Re: Ice Axe Information

Postby ikkythump » Wed Dec 19, 2007 9:29 am

Techincally speaking we generally give the following advice (for Himalayan style expeditions)

5'7" and shorter - use a 60cm axe
5'7" - 6'1" use a 65cm axe
6'-1-6'4" use a 70cm axe

In general, shorter is preferred to longer.

Additionally, for Glacier travel, you want to avoid overly aggressive axes - it makes for a difficult arrest
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Re: Ice Axe Information

Postby coloradokevin » Wed Dec 19, 2007 12:55 pm

I'm 5'10" (ish) and have a 65cm BD Raven axe.

Sometimes I wish it was a bit shorter, and other times I wish it was a bit longer... Most of the time I can't complain, so I suppose it is about the right size.

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