An ice axe is a multi-purpose hiking and climbing implement used by mountaineers on both the ascent and descent of routes with frozen conditions made of snow or ice. In its most basic form, the ice axe is held in the uphill hand like a walking stick, with the mountaineer holding the head in the center. The downward-facing edge is then used as a cutting tool to chop steps into the ice or snow.
There are two main types of axes: single-edge and double-edge. A single-edge ax has one sharp edge, while a double-edge ax has two such edges. Most climbers use either type of ax, depending on the conditions they find themselves working under. Under certain circumstances, using an ax of the same type as that of any fixed objects around you may not be safe. For example, if there are many fixed ropes involved, then a double-edged ax would be ideal because you could use both edges to free yourself if something goes wrong.
Axes for climbing are usually made of steel or aluminum, but some wood ones are available as well. The head of the ax should be flat, with no corners or points. It should be sufficiently heavy for its length, with a sharp blade attached to it. The handle should be thick enough so that it does not slip out of your hand when using it aggressively, yet thin enough so that it does not interfere with your movement too much.
An ice tool is a specialized development of the contemporary ice axe (also known as an ice axe or technical axe) that is used in ice climbing, primarily for more challenging setups. The ice tool was invented by Tom Riblet in 1991.
He originally made them for his own use but soon after that began selling them to other climbers. Today, they are sold under several brands including Riblet Tools, Prusik Cams, and Petzl. There are also independent builders who make their own tools with this design.
This type of axe has two sharp edges that face outward from the body of the tool. One edge is usually serrated while the other is plain. They are used in place of an ordinary axe when greater precision is needed or many anchors must be used to secure one's weight.
The axeman starts out by choosing a good-quality steel blade. Then using a drill press or a power miter saw, he makes a slot down the center of the handle about 1/4 inch deep and begins threading it with a tap. When the hole is large enough, he slips in a metal rod called a shank. Next the axeman threads another hole in the top of the handle and inserts another rod called a neck.
A pick axe's primary use is to break up hard dirt or rock. The head is metal, while the handle is either wood or fiberglass. Metal handles are common on ice pick axes.
People use pick axes to clear land for construction sites, to dig holes for posts and pipes when building houses or other structures, and to break up rocks for gravel. Pick axes are also used by miners to get to ore that other tools cannot reach.
Pick axes come in different sizes and shapes depending on their intended use. There are hand picks and power picks. Hand picks are best for small tasks because they are easy to control and have a large cutting area. Power picks have a motor inside the head that makes them easier to use but not as accurate as hand picks.
Hand picks can be made from steel, aluminum, or wood. Wooden picks will usually be treated with an oil such as paraffin or synthetic resin to help prevent wood infections. Picks should be replaced if they start to look worn because they can damage your hands if you use old ones anymore. Handles on pick axes can be made of various materials including steel, wood, and plastic. Plastic handles are often recommended for children's picks because they can be easily broken if not handled with care.
The action of mounting sloped ice formations is known as ice climbing. Ice climbing is typically defined as the roped and protected ascent of features such as icefalls, frozen waterfalls, and cliffs and rock slabs coated in ice refrozen from water flows. However, this definition may include some unroped climbs on natural features not intended for climbing.
The basic tools needed for ice climbing are the same as those used for rock climbing. These include a rope, carabiners, quick-draws, nuts, and climbers' gear. On top of that, an ice ax is recommended for technical ice climbs. Other equipment for more leisurely ice climbs includes crampons (for walking on snow or ice) and an ice bag (to protect your car from damage caused by ice falls).
There are two types of ice climbing: Alpine and glacier. In alpine ice climbing, generally found at higher elevations, the climber is usually out of sight of other people and has access to all forms of safety equipment including helmets, boots, and ropes. In glacier ice climbing, which is usually done near large towns or cities, there is often a guide who leads groups up mountainsides covered in ice, often through dangerous conditions such as thin ice or falling rocks. Glacier ice climbing requires you to be very careful where you put your feet and uses specialized equipment designed for climbing on ice.
Ice climbers also use the ice to defend themselves. The V-Thread (also known as the "Abalakov" anchor, named after a Russian climber who popularized the technique) and the ice bollard are the two most prevalent such techniques. Both rely on an angular force applied against an edge of the hole to lock a carabiner into place.
The V-thread starts with a vertical hole being drilled into the ice. This hole is then threaded with a rope, which is passed through a carabiner attached to the climber's harness. If the rope gets pulled, the carabiner will lock into the V-notch in the side of the hole.
The Abalakov is very similar to the V-thread, but instead of using a single vertical hole, it uses two perpendicular holes about 1 meter apart. The ropes from both holes go into the same carabiner, which is locked into the intersection between the two threads. This allows for more stability than the V-thread because if one thread fails, the other one can still hold the carabiner in place.
Another common technique used by ice climbers is belaying from an anchor called a bollard. Instead of locking a carabiner into a fixed pin like in traditional climbing, bollards are placed into the ground and tied off to each other with webbing or metal cables.