An ice ax is an important part of climbing equipment. It should be lightweight and reliable. It is on the quality of the ice ax that the successful passage of the route and the safety of the climber in its most difficult sections largely depend, because the ice ax, in contrast to the ice tool, is also used for independent belay.
Consider an ice ax diagram. When buying, it is important to know which parts to pay attention to, what these parts should be made of, how they are attached. The top of the tool consists of a beak or pickaxe, a head (also called a top), in which there should be a hole for a carbine, an adze blade. It has a handle to which a lanyard loop is attached. The lanyard stop is located approximately in the middle of the handle. The handle ends with a bayonet in which a hole is made for a carabiner.
The top with spatula and pickaxe should be made of high quality steel alloy. Teslo is not always needed, during ascents it is rarely used, so it can be removed. This is important if you do not need extra weight on the hike. A pick, on the contrary, is almost always needed and should be very reliable, because it is with it that notches are made. It is important to determine the curvature of the angle relative to the head. It should be at least 65 °, but not more than 70 °. As for the clearance (bevel of the pickaxe), it can be either positive or negative with respect to the handle. Experienced climbers are more likely to choose positive ground clearance. Teslo is needed to carve the steps, and also serves as a belay. The ice ax should have two holes for the carabiners.
The handles are made from different materials: aluminum, steel or carbon fiber. Aluminum weighs little, but is inferior in strength to steel. The main disadvantage of the carbon grip is the rather high price. But many climbers prefer ice axes with a carbon shaft, as they are durable and at the same time they do not weigh very much. The handle can be straight or curved. The choice of the form depends on the purpose of the trip. For anchoring, a straight handle is more convenient, while climbing glaciers - a curved one. High-end climbers often prefer the curved one as it offers more flexibility during challenging climbs. The shaft can be rubber coated. This is convenient as it creates additional friction. If the rubber jacket is not available, you can replace it with sports tape or rubber gloves.
Pay attention to the thorn. It is made of metal and must be sharp enough to dig into the ice crust. If weight is important to you, you can choose an ice ax without a thorn, with an obliquely cut lower end of the shaft. The second option is more convenient for a beginner climber, since such an ice ax is safer when pulling up. As for the lanyard, it serves to avoid dropping the instrument. The loop does not carry large mechanical loads, it just needs to be strong enough.
After choosing the right model, check the dimensions. Length is measured in centimeters from the tip of the handle to the top of the head. The measurement step is 5 cm. The maximum length is 75 cm, the minimum length is 50 cm. You can “try on” an ice ax in a tourist equipment store. Stand up straight, relax, grab your ice ax and lower your hand. The bayonet should reach the ground, but not stick into it. With a height of 185 cm and above, a long ice ax is needed, that is, 75 cm. A person of average height is suitable for an instrument 60-70 cm long, for short climbers ice axes 55-60 cm long are intended. During fitting, it is necessary to take into account the arm span.
Pay attention to the markings. The letter B denotes a tool for traditional mountaineering. These are lightweight and fairly cheap ice axes, but they do not last long. The T stands for an ice ax for technical mountaineering - durable, but more expensive. The technical ice ax has separate markings for the pickaxe and handle.They are designated as CEN-T and CEN-B, and the same tool may have, for example, a pick for traditional mountaineering, and a handle for technical, or vice versa.