Mountaineering axe in Dacks

1:54 p.m. on December 13, 2002 (EST)
(Guest)

How many of you carry a mountaineering axe when hiking in the High Peaks or Whites? I ask because I went to purchase one during a recent trip to the High Peaks and the proprietor of the climbing shop questioned its usefulness. In fact he said there "was no need in the Northeast because we don't have glaciers." While my High Peaks experience is limited, I thought the tool would be useful for bracing and self arrest (indeed you don't need a glacier to self arrest on, do you?) I'd hate to buy and carry a needless tool. What are the prospects of needing/using an axe to self arrest in the High Peaks? Thanks.

2:19 p.m. on December 13, 2002 (EST)
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Depends on the terrain you're going to be climbing.

If you're going to be sticking to the summer hiking trails, most (but not all) in the Northeast aren't steep or exposed enough that you'd find yourself in a potential self-arrest situation.

However, there are also plenty of steep open slopes, slides, gullies, and above-treeline snowfields in the region. When venturing into that kind of terrain, I'd rather be carrying an ice axe than not.

-Dave
`

9:06 p.m. on December 13, 2002 (EST)
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Quote:

How many of you carry a mountaineering axe when hiking in the High Peaks or Whites?

The Old Greybearded One, for one. And to name another "non-glacier" mountain where it proved useful, one early spring in the early 70s, three of us hiked Monadnock, and found the trail to be a solid line of ice all the way from just beyond the parking lot to the summit - walked on crampons and used the ice axes as well, even had to chop a few steps.

Quote:

... the proprietor of the climbing shop questioned its usefulness. In fact he said there "was no need in the Northeast because we don't have glaciers."

Not all climbing shop workers or proprietors know what they are talking about. Talk to someone who actually has done the trails you are going on. Well, ok, you can always "get away" without equipment that would prove useful in other situations.

Quote:

... While my High Peaks experience is limited, I thought the tool would be useful for bracing and self arrest (indeed you don't need a glacier to self arrest on, do you?)

Never had to do a self-arrest on a glacier, and only did practice self-arrests on one glacier. The one time I had to do a self-arrest "in anger" was in a snow-filled couloir. There have been a few folk who do them every year in Tuck (and a few who should have, too).

If you never have to use it, it must have been "useless." So that must mean that if your house never burns, then the smoke alarm is useless, if you never get in a car crash, the seatbelts are useless, if you never fall while skiing, your release bindings are useless, and if you and your companions never have an injury, your first aid kit is useless. Well, I guess with that logic, I can discard a lot of useless junk I have lying around and in my pack.

8:34 a.m. on December 21, 2002 (EST)
(Guest)

Well for the Dacks maybe not, but if you travel there then the Whites can't be too far off.

If you have everything you need, and forsee using an axe more than once, look into getting one.
Plus ads flair to outdoor pictures :)

hope this helps

10:12 a.m. on January 14, 2003 (EST)
(Guest)

Quote:

How many of you carry a mountaineering axe when hiking in the High Peaks or Whites?

i have.

Quote:

What are the prospects of needing/using an axe to self arrest in the High Peaks? Thanks.

i like to have one on open slopes, on steeper, icier terrain, in gullies, etc. there are brief sections on the great range, on many of the open summits above treeline, and on some of the faces (tnf gothics, trap dike), where i'd want an axe (or two). it all depends on what you're doing.

you can use trekking poles for balance and to self-arrest in a pinch, but you have to know what you're doing, and practice. depends.

i use a light, 60cm bd raven. you definitely don't need big bertha.

best,
mkg

October 20, 2014
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