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Ice axe fitting
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Jeff McConnell
(Catalyst) - F
Ice axe fitting on 11/05/2010 15:09:09 MDT Print View

Afer climbing Shasta this summer I'm interested in doing some mountaineering this winter in the local socal mountains with some more experienced friends. I'm heading to REI to get fitted/find out what size ice axe I need and I was hoping you could direct me to resources or explain how to properly figure out what size ax I need. I've had mixed results with REI employees and their knowledge base, and want to make sure I get the right size.

I went with a guide service on Shasta and they just handed me an ax, so I'm not sure what size I used. Axe recommendations would be great too. Right now I'm leaning towards a BD Raven Pro which I found for $70.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
use on 11/05/2010 15:43:16 MDT Print View

is it more for glacier/scrambling or mountain use?

how steep of a gradient will you be climbing with it?

how tall are you?

for a general guide ...

http://www.rei.com/expertadvice/articles/ice+axe.html

Your Height Axe Length
<5'8" (<1.72m) 50-60cm
5'8"-6'0" (1.72-1.8m) 60-70cm
>6'0" (>1.8m) 60-70cm

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Ice axe fitting on 11/05/2010 15:58:53 MDT Print View

For a general purpose ice axe, you hold the axe head in your right hand and let the shaft extend to the floor. It should just barely touch the floor to be the correct length.

For a vertical ice climb (which I doubt) you want a North Wall Hammer, which is considerably shorter.

--B.G.--

Jeff McConnell
(Catalyst) - F
more mountain use on 11/05/2010 16:05:18 MDT Print View

More for mountain use. MR on Whitney, and summiting during winter on Baldy, San Jacinto, Gorgornio, etc. I'm 5'5". Bob, I'm assuming that if I'm left handed, same procedure, just holding the ax with the other hand?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: more mountain use on 11/05/2010 16:12:12 MDT Print View

Jeff, you may be left handed, but we can get you surgically altered!

If you measure the entire length of the ice axe (not just the length of the shaft), the very longest that you would want is about 75cm. However, I think the more likely length would be 70cm. I believe that 65cm would be too short. I'm a little taller, so I extrapolated that from my own ice axes, which are WOOD-SHAFTED! That demonstrates how "old-school" I am.

Grab a yard stick and see if that 70cm makes sense with your body.

--B.G.--

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
60 cm on 11/05/2010 16:26:20 MDT Print View

60-65 cm max in my opinion for general mountain use ... hold it from the head and it should just touch yr ankle

for a glacier walking you could go a bit longer

im 5'7 and the max ill go is 65cm

i recently bought one of these so i can use it for both the mountain and glacier walking ... goes from 65cm to god knows how long ... lol



for the best ice axe comparison yet go here

http://www.supertopo.com/best/Ice-Axe-Review

Edited by bearbreeder on 11/05/2010 16:32:32 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Ice axe fitting on 11/05/2010 16:41:18 MDT Print View

As you can see, the length is kind of a personal decision based on how you think you will use it. For general purpose use, like what you did on Shasta, you are using it more like a walking stick while you are going upward. Then on the descent, you might be doing some self-arrests. Only then does the length need to be correct. On the other hand, some people don't seem to mind if their axe is 5cm too short or too long. One really tall guy I know uses a short axe (because it is lighter in weight) but he never uses it for general purpose walking.

--B.G.--

Richard Bolt
(richardbolt) - F

Locale: California
Re: Ice axe fitting on 11/05/2010 17:12:59 MDT Print View

I'll second the comment that it's a personal preference. I'm 6'1" and throughout my mountaineering years in New Zealand I used a stout 50cm ax. I never felt it was too short, and you're never needing to use it on flat ground anyway, I could beat it into submission as an anchor, and on steeper stuff it was a perfect length for me. I still have it. Later on I got matching 50cm BD carbon fiber ice tools which had curved handles but weren't so versatile. So get what you're comfortable with and don't be afraid to try something shorter to see if you like it.

Jeff McConnell
(Catalyst) - F
either 65 or 70 on 11/06/2010 14:22:44 MDT Print View

Well I went into REI and I'm waffling between a 65 or 70 cm axe. I have short arms so it will be a little longer than it prob. normally would be for someone else. The 65 cm length felt more comfortable in my hands, but the 70 cm would probably be better for walking.

Can anyone comment on the differences between the BD raven and raven pro besides the weight? I can get them for about the same price due to a certain retailer's advertising mistake. I liked the lightness of the raven pro, but the pick and adze on the raven seemed more substantial in size. I don't know if there really is any difference in performance though.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
self arrest on 11/06/2010 14:27:40 MDT Print View

the purpose of an axe will be to self arrest or self belay ... all other considerations are secondary

practices with each axe to see which is faster and easier to get into an arrest position

get that one ...

remember that length isnt as big a deal when yr climbing up steeper terrain due to the angle

this will tell you the pros and cons of each axe by someone whos actually used them extensively and been climbing for decades ... better than what any of us part time alpine bums can say ,,,

http://www.supertopo.com/best/bicreview_ratings.php?gearid=49164&seo=Ice-Axe-Review

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
REI Yeti on 11/06/2010 21:35:55 MDT Print View

The BD Raven-like REI Yeti seems like a good deal for $55 on sale now. I think many here might choose the CAMP Corsa for its light weight but most everyone in Japan says the Raven is MUCH more comfortable to hold, more useful across a wider range of conditions, and more durable so perhaps the extra 200g or so is worth it?

Edited by rmjapan on 11/06/2010 22:31:12 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
corsa on 11/06/2010 22:19:59 MDT Print View

the all aluminum corsa is a very specialized axe meant for moderate stuff, aluminum is not the most durable material for a pick

id suggest the camp corsa nanotech with steel inserts at 250g ... at the very least for a light axe

or better yet the raven ultra ... which is all steel head at 337g

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Corsa adze on 11/06/2010 22:50:23 MDT Print View

The Corsa and Corsa Nanotech both seem to suffer from their puny less-than-useful/comfortable adze. This guy has has both Corsa's but seems to prefer the BD Raven Ultra too.

http://www.petesy.co.uk/black-diamond-raven-ultra-lightweight-ice-axe-review/

It would probably be my choice as well but I need 70cm size so am outta luck.

Edited by rmjapan on 11/06/2010 22:50:53 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
use on 11/06/2010 23:03:23 MDT Print View

what will you be using it for rick? ... what routes?

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
use on 11/07/2010 04:25:43 MST Print View

Probably just for occassional cane walking/balance and for self-arrest while crossing packed Spring corn snow on slopes less than 35deg. I am 6'2"(187cm) tall and have read I should measure from my fingertips to the floor if I can't have the axe in hand. In my case, that is 71cm. Amazingly my wife who is only 5'4" measures 65cm!

Edited by rmjapan on 11/07/2010 04:26:45 MST.

Jeff McConnell
(Catalyst) - F
short arms on 11/07/2010 11:03:31 MST Print View

she probably has short arms like me! I'm only 5'5" but measured between 65-70 cm

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
floor on 11/07/2010 12:04:55 MST Print View

the hold in hands till it hits the floor is generally the max length ...

my rule is

- hold in hand and it should come to the ankle .... max

- hold in self arrest poistion diagonally across the body and spike come to hip ... max

rick ... id be fine with a corsa nanotech for myself for the use u mentioned

here's an analysis of the petzl snowscopic (axe/pole hybrid) vs other axes + pole that i did before i bought it

as you can see for moderate terrain the snowscopic + single pole is basically the same weight as camp corsa nano + double pole

the advantage is that ill always have the snowscopic in my hand for arrest

the disadvantage is that ill look like a psycho killer hiking with it on the trail ... lol

Edited by bearbreeder on 11/07/2010 12:21:20 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: short arms on 11/07/2010 12:28:55 MST Print View

"I'm only 5'5" but measured between 65-70 cm"

That's good enough. Your legs reach all the way down to the ground, don't they?

--B.G.--

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: nanotech on 11/07/2010 16:29:50 MST Print View

"rick ... id be fine with a corsa nanotech for myself for the use u mentioned"

Eric, I just don't see paying ~2x more for less functionality/comfort/durability (according to the reviews)just to save maybe ~100g in the 70cm size in the Yeti vs. Nanotech. BTW, my anti-shock trekking poles are a CF/duralumin hybrid and weight under 200g/ea.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
usage on 11/07/2010 17:55:18 MST Print View

the question is how often will you be using the axe? ... like i said for your intended purpose id be fine with the nanotech ... chance are most of the time itll be on the pack anyways

any axe should be fine for your usage ...