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Choosing your Ice Axe


Part 2: If you grab your crampons, chances are you’ll want an ice axe too.

{Read Part 1:  How to Pick Crampons}

Ice Axes and Crampons often go hand in hand, and similarly to picking the right pair of cramponschoosing the proper ice axe will make your day in the mountains all the more successful. With ice axes, the use of the tool dictates the type of tool you need. A technical ice tool isn’t great for self arrest, and neither is a piolet for climbing steep ice. Below are some of our favorite activities, and the ice axe(s) we choose for each.


Alpine Climbing & Ski Mountaineering in the High Sierra

When headed to the High Sierra for a spring corn mission, we often look for an ultra light and compact axe that can be used for self arrest on firm snow, but is easily stored in our pack with almost no added weight. The Petzl Ride is an obvious choice, and it’s all-steel head, slightly tapered pick and bent shaft can give us added security if the pitch steepens at the crux of our route.





Climbing Schools in South America

For non-technical glaciated peaks around the world, we always grab a standard mountaineering piolet like Petzl’s Summit  This axe can be held in multiple positions for optimal security on big mountain glaciers. An adze is the obvious choice for this this application, and length is sized based on our height. This axe comes in 3 options; 52cm if you’re less than 5’6”, 59cm if you’re 5’6” to 6’ and 66cm if you’re taller than 6’.





Semitechnical High Altitude Peaks

As the average slope angle increases, and the climbing becomes more technical, we often look towards an ice axe for technical mountaineering for additional security. Petzl’s Sum’tec is a modular ice axe that lets climbers choose their pick type and an adze or hammer. This ice axe can be adapted to the optimal configuration for each specific objective.






For information on any of our other expeditions check out our website. For any questions call our office at 877-873-5376 or send us an email We hope to climb with you soon!