/ Summer Alpine - Walking axe or Alpine Axe?
I already own technical climbing axes (quarks), I'm planning to go to the Alps this summer doing routes up to D.
I've very briefly used a walking axe before and being 6ft I quite like the longer length. I'm thinking for the more technical routes I'd take the quarks, but for easier routes would I be better with an alpine or walking axe?
My current thoughts are:
- Extra length of walking axe great on less steep ground, but the weaker axe design rather limits its use. I'd probably get 65 cm.
- Is there much point in getter an alpine axe 5cm longer than my 50cm long quarks? (for my height 55 cm is recommended)
- Would there be any merit in getting an alpine axe somewhere between the two lengths that I intend to use primarily on easy routes and walking? say at 60 cm?
I'd just get an Air tech Evo or something similar. It's not heavy but at the same time it's technical enough to use on routes.
I got a 53cm alpine tool as I wanted a axe to use as a single tool when I didn't have my ice tools and that length is what I'm comfortable with. There is a fair amount of function overlap though to be fair. I'm just more comfortable with shorter axes I guess. I just use which tool is most suitable for the job in hand.
I'd get either 55cm or 65cm - if you compromise it'll be a jack of all trades king of none! Although that said, we're only talking about 10cm, I'm sure whatever you pick you'll adapt to it :)
Actually just had a look, mine is actually 58cm :-P
I guess I'm not as fussy as I thought!
Mine is one of those ones that doesn't have a rubber handle or a specific spike at the base, but I've never missed them.
Thanks Toby - what about length, more towards the walking length or the climbing length?
If there is no ice climbing involved and nothing too hard I would just take one of the ice climbing tools - usually the hammer one as this avoids taking a peg hammer. I try never to use my axe as a walking stick to save the point. If it is short enough to put inside your rucksack this is handier on any rock climbing.
If you already have a pair of quarks but no walking axe then save on the expense and take the quark axe......unless cost is not an issue and you feel the need to add another shiny thing to your arsenal.
Heres some info regarding ice axe length choice
I can't see a huge amount of point in buying a 50cm long alpine axe, I'd just take a quark, sure the breaking is slightly compromised but functionally there isn't enough of a difference to warrent the purchace IMO. I got away with a quark for all my Scottish Winter walks.
For example the only classic alpine axe petzl make is B rated:
Surely Petzl know what they are doing right? Or would I be best avoiding the B rated axes?
I'm about 5'11, and after one day using a quark as a walking axe I felt like my back was about to fall off. It is far from the most comfy thing in the world!
Do yourself a favour, and buy a 55/60cm walking axe. It's what I've done. The DMM Cirque (yes, they're bring out a new one in the winter, but the old one is still cracking) for £55ish: http://www.theoutdoorshop.com/showPart.asp?part=PN30121
They're T rated, so you can use them for belays and easy climbs and stuff if you ever need to.
Also, Quarks are s*#t for cutting steps, if you're that way inclined.
To cut a long story short, get a walking axe.
Wasn't the "best practice" i.e. what the Glenmore Lodge folk suggest changed a couple of years back to everyone might as well use 50? Something to do with better for braking? There were some article about it as I remember.
Probably rather longer ago than that - they were certainly recommending 50/55 when I did my winter ML, which was probably 10 years ago. Certainly before kids, and the oldest is 6.
And yes, it was about being able to get a good braking position - with lower arm/hand both strong (elbow in by side) and covering the nasty spikey bit on the end. Assuming this leaflet is current, they seem to have backed off a little - this says between 50 & 75...
Here we go, this is worth a read - both sides of the debate in a proper spat ;-)
Personally, I'm happier with my 50cm axe than my old 65cm one. Probably depends if you like using it as a walking pole, which I have to say I rarely do. Or if I do, I'm lent over into a hoolie and 50cm is quite long enough!
If you're that crokey that you need a walking stick you'd perhaps be best sticking at something less hazardous than alpine climbing :-)
I just find Quarks a bit short to walk with...
I used a Quark on my conville course last year. Obviously not ideal if you do need to do an ice axe belay. If money were no object, I'd have a Petzl Sumtec,43 for easy stuff as that's better really. But the quark will do the job just fine. No need to shell out for another one IMO.
If money is tight, make do with what you have got. They'll be fine.
If you have a burning need to buy new shiny gear, then of course you need two different alpine axes.
First, you need an ultra-lightweight axe for those days when you might need an axe, or only need one for a short not-to-technical spell.
Then for gentle angled walks across glaciers you need something with a longer handle.
Of course, both need to be strong enough to deal with glacier rescues...
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