[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[pct-l] Re: ice axe

In a message dated 2/20/02 4:13:45 PM Pacific Standard Time, 
ladder91@yahoo.com writes:

<< I would appreciate any tips, advice, or pointers
 [re ice axe] to past discussions that might be helpful.
 I wish I could say, "If I need it and I don't have it,
 then I don't need it."  I also wish I could ask do I
 need an ice axe and have people say no, but the
 correct answer is probably "It depends."
 I've never used an ice axe before, and I just have a
 copy of _Beyond Backpacking_ to explain the
 self-arrest technique.  I will be using Leki poles,
 but I don't know how good a substitute for an ice axe
 they'd be in an emergency.  I'm not a fast hiker, so
 I'll be passing through behind people who have ice
 So, :-), do I need an ice axe? >>

Sorry, but the correct answer is "Yes", you should carry and know how to use 
an ice axe.  It's a logic problem and a risk/reward decision.  

Logic problem:

Premise 1:  Hitting a rock at high speed will do you serious damage.
Premise 2:  Self-arrest with an ice axe will keep you from hitting the rock.

Logical Decision:  Carry an ice axe and know how to use it.

Risk/Reward Analysis:  Should I have an ice axe (and know how to use it) 
while crossing that 50 feet of ice chute near the top of Forester Pass?  (And 
a couple other interesting places between Kennedy and Tuolomne Meadows.)

1. Do not carry an ice axe.  You will very likely be just fine, and you will 
save weight.  But, if you slip, you will almost certainly die. 

2. Carry it.  

BTW, a hiking pole is not a substitute for an ice axe.  The hiking pole has 
strength along its length from handle to tip to support you.  It has no 
lateral strength.  When you're rapidly gaining speed sliding down an ice 
chute toward those rocks, digging in the point of your hiking pole is a 
forlorn hope.  It will break off.  (If you have placed yourself in this 
unfortunate situation, dig the remainder of your hiking pole in and hope you 
still have time.)

Also BTW, I'm an engineer by training and profession and tend to answer 
questions in this manner.  Works for me!