Ice Tool Components
The components to an ice tool include:
- The Pick is what the climber relies on to keep them attached to the ice. Picks have teeth on the underside and a concave top. They are sharp at the front, allowing them to be dug into the ice.
Adzes and Hammers
- An adze or a hammer is attached to the tool, opposite of the ice pick. It is often standard to have one ice tool with an adze and another tool with a hammer; however, climbers may choose any setup they wish. Adzes were originally used on ice axes
for cutting snow steps, prior to the use of crampons.
That technique is rarely used today, but the adze is still useful for cutting away dead ice, webbing
line. Hammers are useful for hammering in pitons
(standard and ice)and driving in some old models of ice screws,
which are hammer in and screw out. Some ice tools are produced without an adze or hammer, which can cut down weight in situations when adzes or hammers will not be necessary. Most tools allow you to switch between having an adze or a hammer.
- The head is what connects the adze, hammer and pick to the shaft of the ice tool. They can be modular, allowing you to swap out the various parts.
- Ice tool shafts are generally curved, allowing the climber to swing the tool without worrying about banging their fingers into the ice.
- Ice tools grips are rubberized, allowing the climber to better grip the axe.
Leashes allow climbers to relax their grip on the tool by putting their weight onto the leash. Climbers have the option to include leashes on their ice tools. Some issues with leashes are that they are often hard to remove when necessary. To get around this problem, some leashes come with a quick release system, allowing the climber to take the leash off the tool instead of loosing the leash to get their hand out.
In the last few years, leashless climbing has been introduced. Leashless climbing involves specifically designed tools where the handle grip is offset with the shaft. This allows the climber to swap tools as well introduces many other moves that are used often in Mixed Climbing (climbing on both rock and ice in one pitch).
Pinky rests are extensions on the bottom of the shaft of some ice tools that allows climbers to go leashless. They do not have the same quality of grip as a fully leashless tool. Pinky rests slightly inhibit the ability for the climber to plunge the tool into the snow if they are using it as an ice axe.