/ ARTICLE: The Lord of the Swings.. Walking Axes by Paul Lewis

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Paul Lewis is a mountaineering instructor with a fetish for walking axes. Here he guides us through the do's and don'ts of buying a walking axe just in time for the first winter snows.

Thinking of going winter walking and mountaineering? Listen to what Paul has to say...

Article: http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=1316

Alex Roddie - on 03 Oct 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:
Good article, although I bet it'll spark off the usual 'what shaft length is best' debate again!
ayuplass - on 03 Oct 2008
In reply to Alex Roddie:
*gasps* how rude, some of us are at work you know. FILTH!
Alex Roddie - on 03 Oct 2008
In reply to ayuplass:
Personally I favour a 65cm shaft.

;-)
Lord of Starkness - on 03 Oct 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

I've still got one of the 'unbreakable' Snowdon Mouldings Curver axes with the fibreglass shaft. It will probably last for ever, and the fairly steep curve of the pick meant it was good for steepish work as well as for generall snow plodding.


It was the canine's danglies way back when I got it - though probably a bit on the heavy side to be fashionable nowadays.
fimm on 03 Oct 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

Yesbut - when I tried carrying an axe in the compression straps of my rucksack, it kept bashing me on the head.
Doug on 03 Oct 2008
In reply to Lord of Starkness: I've still got (& still use) one of those although mine was the earlier model (bought 1976, just before my first trip to the Alps) that wasn't as steeply curved as the later models. As you say, a bit heavy, but a great all purpose mountaineering axe good for walking, alpine routes & easier Scots winter routes

Is there really a need for a walking ax as opposed to a general, all round mountaineering ax ?
johnSD on 03 Oct 2008
In reply to Doug:
>
> Is there really a need for a walking ax as opposed to a general, all round mountaineering ax ?

Definitely, mostly due to price. Some people will only ever walk and never need or desire T rated products.
Alex Roddie - on 03 Oct 2008
In reply to johnSD:
> Definitely, mostly due to price. Some people will only ever walk and never need or desire T rated products.

But a really tough mountaineering axe will last longer. I currently use a MT Alpine axe that's about 15 years old, and it's in better condition than my old Grivel Munro that looked knackered after two years of very light use...

I'm strongly of the opinion that proper mountaineering axes are MUCH better than dedicated walking axes in all situations!
lithos on 03 Oct 2008
In reply to Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC:

should add the weight for the Cirque (557g for the 55cm) and priced at 50..60 at the
moment from your supporters shops
Neily - on 07 Oct 2008
Good article. Interested to hear your views on shaft length. I wonder if a shorter axe does limit you slightly with the effectiveness of a buried anchor - perhaps not ? Appreciate your view. Cheers.
peakpaul - on 08 Oct 2008
In reply to Neily:

Hi Neily,

Good Question. Yes, it would seem a logical assumption that a shorter shaft length will slightly reduce the holding power of a buried axe belay (although I don't know of any data to support/refute this view) simply because there is less axe to resist shearing through the snow.

However, the effectiveness of an axe belay relies on several other factors such as the type of snow, careful construction of the belay and the belaying technique of the climber - I think that a slight reduction in axe shaft length will be far less of an issue than these other factors.

Thanks for raising the point though.

Cheers,
Paul


Martin W on 21 Oct 2008
In reply to fimm:

> when I tried carrying an axe in the compression straps of my rucksack, it kept bashing me on the head.

Have you tried carrying it the other way that Paul suggests ie "between your back and the back of your rucksack with the axe tip exiting above the lower strap attachment point". I carry my 60cm MT Technical Axe this way all the time it's not in my hands and I've never had any problems with it getting in the way or pressing against my back. (Do make sure you have the pick hooked over the shoulder strap - it's much more secure that way and you don't want the pick sticking up behind your head anyway.) Much better than faffing around with compression straps!
Jasonic - on 25 Oct 2008
In reply to peakpaul: Managed to lose an axe carried in the compression straps this year...
peakpaul - on 26 Oct 2008
In reply to Jasonic:

Hi,

Thats interesting to hear. Do you mean it just slipped out of the top of the straps or fall between the top and bottom one? And I assume the straps were fastened quite tightly?

I'd appreciate any feedback on how that happened.
Cheers,
Paul

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Jasonic - on 28 Oct 2008
In reply to peakpaul: It was pushed down the side straps done up tightly, descending from the The Ben in January. However I was concentrating on getting us down, and two cheerful Hungarians whose winter climbing equipment did not include a map, and only noticed the loss at the car park.

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