/ ARTICLE: The Lord of the Swings.. Walking Axes by Paul Lewis
Thinking of going winter walking and mountaineering? Listen to what Paul has to say...
Good article, although I bet it'll spark off the usual 'what shaft length is best' debate again!
*gasps* how rude, some of us are at work you know. FILTH!
Personally I favour a 65cm shaft.
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.
Yesbut - when I tried carrying an axe in the compression straps of my rucksack, it kept bashing me on the head.
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.
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!
should add the weight for the Cirque (557g for the 55cm) and priced at 50..60 at the
moment from your supporters shops
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.
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!
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.
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