/ walking poles for mont blanc
Thanks that is what i thought
ice axe would probably be better
How can poles be of limited use or an ice axe be better? It's not a question of one or the other. Most of the ascent whether you are doing the Gouter or the 3 Monts is on ground where poles are of far more use - an axe would just hang useless in your hand, not touching the snow. Sure you take an axe AS WELL and have it handy - tucked under your rucsac strap. On sections where you need the axe rather than poles (the upper Bosses ridge or the steeper parts of Tacul or Maudit) then put one or both poles away and use the axe. I've noticed over the past 25 years of living and working in the Alps that Brits on the whole are strangely reluctant to use poles and are with knowing it giving themselves a distinct disadvantage.
I went up the Goutier Route with a Scot guide. He and I used 1 pole only until passed the Tete Rouse. They are useful, as long as you know when to get your axe out instead.
I never use poles- they just seem to get in the way and are a nuisance when trying to navigate. I always feel safer with an ice axe
Bring an axe, as it is a crucial piece of kit on any steep snow/ice slope.
That said, last summer I was very sorry to have brought an axe to Piz Badile instead of a walking pole, as the slog down the Italian side with a sprained ankle wasn't very nice.
Absolutely not instead of an axe but I was very glad of my poles in the later stages of the descent which can feel like it goes on forever.
The new Black Diamond poles look pretty good....nice and compact:
Did my first 4000ers last year with axe and no poles. Was fine and all but I will be returning with axe and one pole for stability.
As other posts have said it's a personal choice. I use a BD pole that is a fixed length and splits into 3 parts so it can live in my bag when I'm not using it. It goes without saying you'll have your axe and you know when to use. More useful is that my pole has a foam handle below the main handle. Great on un-even ground, and keeping your hand out of the leash.
Poles are great at taking the pressure of your knees, making things more stable and keeping you balanced. My advice is to take them on your acclimatisation climbs and see if you get on with them. Simple.
And don't forget snow baskets!
Don't know about Mt Blanc, but for general approach hikes, walking below the snowline on bouldery rocky ground poles are really useful and make things easier (for me at least).
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