All About Ice axes

An ice axe is a versatile tool used by mountaineers during the ascent and descent of frozen mountains. Ice axes have many different usages and can be employed in various manners. How an ice axe is used depends on the terrain and surface the mountaineer is embarking on. The general usage of an ice pick involves the mountaineer implying the axe as a walking stick during uphill travel. The axe is usually held in the center while the end of the axe is inserted into the ground to give the mountaineer leverage and balance. Ice axes can also be used to create an anchor unto which a second climber can climb up to. This is done by burring the axe, pick down, and making sure it is firm and stable. Then a rope is tied securely around the shaft of the axe and brought down to the climber in order to begin hisher climb. During a steep descend the ice axe is used as a means for self-arrest and increased traction. There are generally two types of ice climbing axes. First is the basic ice axe which is designed for general mountaineering and is ideal for basic traction and self-support. There are also technical ice axes that have a curved shaft and are mainly used for more extreme vertical and steep conditions. Ice axes are composed of five components, that compose either type of axe. The top most piece of the axe is called the head and is typically made of steel. Then sticking out the head is the pick that is used mainly for self-arrest and support. Protruding out the pick is the adze which is used for carving out steps in hard ice. The shaft makes up the majority of the axe and is used to grip the axe and is composed of either aluminum or titanium. The bottom most piece of an ice axe is the spike, or ferrule, and it is a steel point coming out the base mainly used for safety and balance when the axe is used as a walking stick.

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