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Submitted by on May 10, 2021

The ice axe is a versatile hiking and climbing tool used by climbers on both ascending and descending routes that include frozen conditions with snow or ice. The ice axe can be held and used in different ways, depending on the terrain. The ice axe is used as a stick in hand upward, with the climber holding his head in the center in its most superficial role. It can also be buried, lowered by tying a rope to a shaft to form a secure anchor for a second climber to climb, or buried vertically to form a stomp belay. The adze is used for cutting steps (sometimes called pigeon holes if used directly) as well as scoop/bucket seats and trenches for burying canvas with an ice axe. The long-handled Alpenstock was the forerunner of the modern ice axe.

The ice axe is used not only as an aid for climbing but also as self-restraint during descending slip.

Most ice axes meet the design and manufacturing standards of organizations such as the International Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme (UIAA) or the European Committee for Standardization (CEN). There are two classifications of ice axes: basic (B/type 1) and technical (T/type 2). Basic ice axes are designed for use in snow conditions for general mountaineering and are suitable for basic support and self-arrest. Technical ice axes, which can have curved rods, are strong enough to be used for steep or vertical ascents on ice and hold such a surface.

Special ice axes are used for vertical ice climbing areas known as ice tools. Ice tools have shorter and more curved shafts, stronger, sharper, and more curved picks that can usually be replaced, and often ergonomic handles and finger pads. It is used in pairs, one usually covered with glue and the other with a hammer to help place the gears.

For ski mountaineering and racing where weight is of paramount concern, manufacturers have made short (~ 45 cm) and light (200-300 g (7-11 oz)) ice axes. Some of them have aluminum alloy heads/picks that are not likely to be as effective or durable as steel heads/picks.

The Ice-ax spike’s length to the top of the glacier usually ranges from 60-90 cm (24-35 inches). It is too short to be used as a walking stick on level ground (like its predecessor, the nineteenth-century 150cm alpenstock), but it is ergonomic for climbing steep slopes. For flatter terrain, where the sliding effect is small, walking poles are more suitable.

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