View Full Version : First Ice Axe?

01-16-2009, 10:39 AM
Hi Everyone,

I just joined this forum in attempt to break into winter alpine hiking/climbing. I moved to NH just about two years ago from Ohio and absolutely love it (anywhere would be an improvement compared to there). I'm into just about all outdoor activities and include hiking among them. I've started to put a good dent into my 48 list and have done a few 4k's in winter but nothing really technical and I've always picked my days carefully. Eventually I'd like to be able to do Washington in winter but right now I'm just trying to learn the basics and not get myself in trouble.

I'm sure all of you know of the fantastic and addicting site steepandcheap.com.

Well I've seen some ice axes listed on there at an awesome price but haven't been able to pull the trigger because I have no idea what length I need. Can anyone offer some tips on proper length and what exactly one looks for in an axe? I know it was black diamond but not sure on the specific axe. It's basically an entry level axe that I want to learn with, but the reviews on them were great. I'm 27, 6'2 and about 185 pounds and obviously a beginner in terms of winter. Thanks for any advice....

Bill O
01-16-2009, 10:54 AM
You need a mountaineering axe. Something with a pick and an adze (not a hammer side).

Standing up with your arm at your side, holding the axe by its head the bottom of the axe should just barely be above the ground. That's what I like. Remember, it's not a walking stick so it doesn't need it to be really long like the old days. And its not an ice tool for climbing vertical water ice.

Here's a previous thread that popped up in a search:


01-16-2009, 11:05 AM
Hadn't heard of steepandcheap.com before. Looks like an interesting concept and I'll be interested in watching it for a while to see what kind of stuff they offer.

Glad to have you here (on the forum and living in New England). Your question in this thread and your approach is also refreshing. You're obviously going about this the right way.

01-16-2009, 11:14 AM
Hadn't heard of steepandcheap.com before

I love Steapandcheap, if you're using firefox definitely install the alert add on because most deals don't last very long. They're associated with Backcountry.com. I've ordered from them several times and they are a reputable company.

01-16-2009, 11:20 AM
If you ski they also run tramdock.com which is all ski gear, including skis. The deals are downright sick sometimes.

For me those sites were a godsend for gearing up. I don't want to even think about how much I've spent through them but it's FAR better than what I "would've" spent if I didn't discover those sites. Be careful at work, I check it constantly and perk up every time I get the desktop alerts.

Thanks for the tips. Hope everyone is staying warm.

01-16-2009, 11:43 AM
I would go to a local shop and try to fit yourself for your height. See other thread mentioned above. As for brand, I prefer Grivel or Camp brands, both out of Italy.

01-16-2009, 12:55 PM
Mojonh - lots of great advice here already - to answer your original question, judging by your height, I'd say you'd probably be comfortable with an axe in the 75cm range. I'm between 5'8-5'9 and a 65cm or 70cm is right for me.