I love my XL ice axe

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Chip Down
Posts: 1753
Joined: November 8th, 2014, 8:41 pm

I love my XL ice axe

Post by Chip Down » June 11th, 2018, 8:17 pm

Like many people, I started with a 70cm axe. It seems to be the standard newbie size for people of average height. As my experience advanced and I got into steeper terrain, I went shorter and shorter. This is a typical progression.

Based on reports here, I decided to try an ice axe on my rugged mixed-terrain offtrail hikes. Felt weird at first, but I was soon a convert. Eventually decided I wanted a dedicated scrambling axe, and went a little longer. Considered 90cm, but settled on 80cm. It's perfect! If it was any longer, I'd have to deliberately lift it with every step. Any shorter and I'd feel like I was bowed over when using it on flatter terrain. It's the perfect compromise. As a reference, if I set the spike at my heel, and my palm is resting at the top, I have just the slightest bend in my elbow.

I love my 80cm so much, I've actually carried it on alpine/glacier trips, and have been happy with it. On the rare occasions when I know I'll be on steeper snow, I pack my 60cm. I've had the 80 for maybe a couple years now, or at least 1+, so it's well tested and I know I'm happy with it.

Some drawbacks:
- If it's on my pack, it sticks up pretty high, and snags brush.
- That extra 10-20 cm doesn't add much weight, but it moves the center of gravity further from the wrist, which makes it just slightly less agile (harder to maneuver, just a bit). Over the course of a day, it can feel just barely more cumbersome and fatiguing. But the difference is negligible, and overall I'm very happy with how it feels.
- Conventional wisdom says a long axe is awkward/dangerous for self arrest, but I think it stands to reason that people climbing steep terrain won't carry a long axe anyway, just because it feels awkward.

The purpose of this post isn't to encourage you to go longer; it's to encourage you to ignore convention and see what works best for you!

I'm waiting for some guy to tell me "your axe is too long", to which I'll reply "shut up, I know what I'm doing" :geek:

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Bosterson
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Joined: May 18th, 2009, 3:17 pm
Location: Portland

Re: I love my XL ice axe

Post by Bosterson » June 11th, 2018, 10:35 pm

Chip Down wrote:
June 11th, 2018, 8:17 pm
I'm waiting for some guy to tell me "your axe is too long", to which I'll reply "shut up, I know what I'm doing" :geek:
It sounds like REI sold you a mislabeled alpenstock. :ugeek:
Will hike off trail for fun.

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Charley
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Location: Southeast Portland

Re: I love my XL ice axe

Post by Charley » June 12th, 2018, 3:01 pm

Your axe is too long.





:lol:

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Chip Down
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Joined: November 8th, 2014, 8:41 pm

Re: I love my XL ice axe

Post by Chip Down » June 12th, 2018, 6:12 pm

Bosterson wrote:
June 11th, 2018, 10:35 pm
It sounds like REI sold you a mislabeled alpenstock. :ugeek:
It was OMC. And I just told them I was buying it for a tall friend.
Charley wrote:
June 12th, 2018, 3:01 pm
Your axe is too long.





:lol:
Shut up, I know what I'm doing. :geek:
Oh, and your shadow is too long.

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Bosterson
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Re: I love my XL ice axe

Post by Bosterson » June 12th, 2018, 8:40 pm

If you keep going with the XL ice axe, you may be featured on the cover of the next edition of GCC. Having a dirt axe comes in handy, but god knows how you manage to move through brush with a 70-80cm sticking off the back of your pack. Also, per your post, what's the functional difference (while "hiking") between an 80cm axe and a trekking pole with a whippet?

Shooting Gallery notwithstanding, I never truly understood the benefit of the dirt axe until this happened:

Image

Yes. Chopping steps. In dirt. It's good that route caught on fire so that no one will ever do it again.
Will hike off trail for fun.

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-Q-
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Re: I love my XL ice axe

Post by -Q- » June 13th, 2018, 6:46 am

Bosterson wrote:
June 12th, 2018, 8:40 pm
If you keep going with the XL ice axe, you may be featured on the cover of the next edition of GCC. Having a dirt axe comes in handy, but god knows how you manage to move through brush with a 70-80cm sticking off the back of your pack. Also, per your post, what's the functional difference (while "hiking") between an 80cm axe and a trekking pole with a whippet?

Shooting Gallery notwithstanding, I never truly understood the benefit of the dirt axe until this happened:

Image

Yes. Chopping steps. In dirt. It's good that route caught on fire so that no one will ever do it again.
This looks to be poor form to me. Not exactly LNT at all. Your chopped steps probably caused mild erosion issues (minor channels) and you probably killed many small plants in the process. :cry:

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Bosterson
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Location: Portland

Re: I love my XL ice axe

Post by Bosterson » June 13th, 2018, 8:48 am

-Q- wrote:
June 13th, 2018, 6:46 am
This looks to be poor form to me. Not exactly LNT at all. Your chopped steps probably caused mild erosion issues (minor channels) and you probably killed many small plants in the process. :cry:
I can't tell if you're kidding, but this is deep in the Gorge, far away from trails, where literally no one will ever go. The Gorge needs no one's help with erosion (that gully had new soil deposits at the bottom compared to the previous year, as it surely does after every rainy season), and one could kill every single one of those "small plants" and next year (maybe next month?) they would all be back. Besides which, the entire area was incinerated, so it's a moot point. :geek:
Will hike off trail for fun.

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-Q-
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Re: I love my XL ice axe

Post by -Q- » June 13th, 2018, 10:50 am

Bosterson wrote:
June 13th, 2018, 8:48 am
-Q- wrote:
June 13th, 2018, 6:46 am
This looks to be poor form to me. Not exactly LNT at all. Your chopped steps probably caused mild erosion issues (minor channels) and you probably killed many small plants in the process. :cry:
I can't tell if you're kidding, but this is deep in the Gorge, far away from trails, where literally no one will ever go. The Gorge needs no one's help with erosion (that gully had new soil deposits at the bottom compared to the previous year, as it surely does after every rainy season), and one could kill every single one of those "small plants" and next year (maybe next month?) they would all be back. Besides which, the entire area was incinerated, so it's a moot point. :geek:
Nope, not kidding, all serious. Whether the gully was near a trail or not is a moot point. Whether the gorge burned or not is a moot point. How fast small plants re-grow is a moot point. From the looks of things you chose a very poor gully to travel. Having to chop steps is proof of that poor decision. Another route should have been chosen. Chopped steps in dirt... How many small subsurface root systems did your chopped steps destroy?? LNT principles are clearly not being demonstrated here.

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Bosterson
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Location: Portland

Re: I love my XL ice axe

Post by Bosterson » June 13th, 2018, 11:10 am

-Q- wrote:From the looks of things you chose a very poor gully to travel.
If chopping a step in an active dirt slide area that no one will ever revisit is an egregious abuse, what about any time any of us go offtrail and have to kick into moss or dirt? What about any time the ground under one's foot slides? What about digging a cat hole while backpacking? What about wilderness management entities building new trails? There's no need to hijack this thread over whether LNT is relevant to silly offtrail shenanigans that occur in unused areas, so if you would like to further debate the illogical argument you're positing discuss this, please feel free to PM me and we can discuss there. :)

Edit: playful tone did not come across correctly, such is the internet.
Will hike off trail for fun.

Webfoot
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Re: I love my XL ice axe

Post by Webfoot » June 13th, 2018, 12:14 pm

No, please take it to Idle Chatter instead; I'll make popcorn.

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