Whether tackling a first ascent on a remote Nepalese peak or assailing a bewintered Munro, having the right ice axe is essential for every aspiring mountaineer.
They come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes with an assortment of picks, adzes and hammers; each one designed for slightly different terrain and conditions.
Walking ice axes come with a straight shaft for easy plunging into snow and solid self -arrests. They are often referred to as non-technical because of the easy to moderate terrain they are intended for.
Alpine axes have a slight curve in the upper shaft for climbing but retain a lower straight shaft for snow penetration. They are best at mixed walking and climbing, around grade 2 – 3 winter mountaineering or AD Alpine routes.
Technical ice axes are made with a large shaft curve, steep pick angle and from the lightest & strongest materials. You also have the option to interchange picks, hammers and adzes as you please. The big curve in the shaft allows you to avoid out hanging rocks and better secure the pick. They often come with hand rests for improved grip and are the ideal tool on mid to high (3-7) winter climbs.
Offset handle axes are designed for the toughest of climbs, technical ice, mixed and dry tooling routes. They retain the same large curve in the shaft and steep pick angle as technical axes but the handle is offset from the shaft for stronger placements and more comfort on arduous climbs.