In case you hike within the winter within the White Mountains of New Hampshire, there are specific routes and trails the place it may be helpful to have an ice axe to arrest a fall, chop steps, for stability when strolling on a steep slope, or as an anchor when there aren’t any good handholds round you. Whereas it’s true that you just don’t want an ice axe more often than not when winter mountain climbing within the Whites, while you need one, it certain is helpful to have.
There are hikers, some fairly outstanding ones, who will inform you that you just by no means want an ice axe for winter mountain climbing within the Whites Mountains. You would possibly very nicely be capable of get by with out one in the event you follow simpler routes or solely hike in good path situations. However an ice axe is an effective security device to hold when tackling winter routes that traverse steep, icy, or sketchy terrain. An ice axe weighs subsequent to nothing and may make the distinction between a harrowing day and one which’s simply managed.
Studying how you can use an axe can be a enjoyable talent to study in the event you like studying backcountry abilities. You’ll be stunned how helpful it may be. Studying how you can self-arrest with an ice axe can be essential in the event you ever want to make use of full mountaineering crampons, within the Whites or elsewhere, since an unbroken slide in crampons is a nasty method to break an ankle or leg.
There are three components to a mountaineering/walking-style ice axe:
- The decide which could be plunged into ice as an anchor level or used to arrest an uncontrolled slide when held within the prepared place.
- The shaft which could be plunged deeply into snow as a handhold or rope anchor or used as a friction brake when sliding down a slope in your butt on goal (referred to as glissading).
- The again or adze, which is used to actually chop steps right into a steep or vertical face so you possibly can climb or descend it safely. The adze additionally makes a passible beer bottle opener in the event you neglect to carry one.
Listed here are some examples of the place I’ve used an ice axe within the White Mountains to present you a way of the paths the place it will possibly come in useful in winter:
- Chopping steps on the very icy and steep Fishing Jimmy Path en path to North Kinsman. This implies making a flat ledge with the adze of the axe, so you possibly can traverse or get down an icy face.
- Self-arresting a fall on the Lionhead path on Mt Washington.
- For added stability on the Wildcat Vary Path when ascending Wildcat A (Mtn) from Carter Notch. This part of the path traverses an avalanche zone the place a fall or uncontrolled slide can be very dangerous.
- As an anchor level for descending the very icy and steep part of the Osceola Ridge Path from East Osceola (Mtn) all the way down to the Greely Pond Path.
- For stability, and to forestall an uncontrolled slide down the west face of Mt Lafayette.
- For stability, and to forestall an uncontrolled slide down the Pine Bend Path getting back from North Tripyramid.
- As an anchor and dagger level for climbing the Sabbaday Path from the Kanc to Center Tripyramid
- Climbing the Blueberry Ledge Path on the best way to Mt Whiteface when it’s helpful to have a agency anchor to drag your self up a number of slippery rock ledges that lack good handholds
- For stability, when descending the steep Walden Path close to Mt Passaconaway
- As an anchor and for stability when climbing the ice flows beneath the Lakes of the Clouds Hut on the Ammonoosuc Ravine Path.
- Glissading down (sliding in your however utilizing the axe as friction brake) on quite a few greater angle slopes as an alternative of mountain climbing down them.
- Utilizing the decide as a strong anchor level when climbing Mt Jackson from the East
- For stability, when climbing the ledges on Mt Crawford or subsequent to the falls on the Nancy Pond Path in winter
- As a strong anchor, when descending or ascending the chimney bypass between East Osceola (Mtn) and Mt Osceola
- For stability, when crossing the avalanche slide whereas descending the east aspect of East Osceola (going through Mad River Notch) in winter.
- As a strong anchor level or for chopping steps on the Beaver Brook Path whereas ascending or descending Mt Moosilauke
Whereas I’m certain folks have hiked all these routes with out an ice axe, I’ve to inform you, I really feel a hell of quite a bit safer and extra in management when I’ve one with me.
That doesn’t imply it’s a must to carry an ice axe ALL of the time. I don’t. However while you analysis routes with maps and guidebooks or NewEnglandTrailConditions.com (versus asking about them on Fb), you possibly can normally work out whether or not you wish to carry an ice axe alongside.
Be taught How one can Use an Ice Axe
One of the best ways to learn to use an ice axe for winter mountain climbing and mountaineering is to take a category with one of many mountain guiding companies in North Conway (NH). I took my first mountaineering course with IME (Worldwide Mountain Gear) a “whereas in the past” and I’ve used it ever since. Redline Guiding is one other information service that can be very talked-about throughout the mountain climbing group.