- The spike that is the tip down and that we support in the snow and ice when we walk - there are many different designs, but if the purpose is the same.
- The head that is in the upper part and that we hold when we walk and we lean on the ice ax as if it were a cane.
- The head in turn consists of the peak for ice and the shovel for snow or ice not very hard. In the case of more technical ice axes, the paddle may be replaced by a club.
- The handle that is the piece that unites the head and the spike. The length of the handle may vary.
Did you know? ... The ice axe is the iconic tool of every mountaineer, but its origin comes from the world of agriculture, since the first climbers and guides were farmers and took advantage of and reformed the tools of the field. The first manufacturers for mountain sports were blacksmiths and manufacturers of agricultural tools who saw in these tools the way to expand their production.
The first designs, rough and with a clear resemblance to tools, have been changing their design and length to become today tools oriented exclusively to sports use.
At the beginning, all the ice axes were very similar, being able to change the shape of the peak ... Today, there are a great variety of designs that are divided mainly in classic ice axes and technical ice axes.
The classics are simpler in design and much like their predecessors, but their weight and performance have been improved. Basically, they are for simple ascents, in which a support element is needed for progression and as a safety element to be able to stop a fall. Inside the classic ice axes, there are ultra-light versions, designed for fast ascents and ski mountaineering. Designed for activities that do not entail difficulty and more as an element of security than progression.
The technical axes are designed to hit, hook and pull
The technical axes are used in more complicated ascents in which in order to move more quickly one is needed in each hand. They are not so much an element of safety in case of fall because it is tied with a rope, but still maintain their safety features when we carry a single ice ax.
The design of the technical axes is much more aggressive and they are much shorter than the classic ones.
The inclination of the blade in the technical ice axes is greater than in the classic ones since its design is more to penetrate the ice and they are usually modular, that is to say, their components can be disassembled to change them for new ones or for other designs and to be able to adapt it to the necessities.
The technical axes are usually used in pairs - shovel version to chop ice and snow - hammer version to place pitons; but nowadays it is often decided to eliminate these accessories to lighten the ice axes ... however these accessories are necessary in adventure scales in which you do not know what you are going to find. Another difference between technical and classic ice axes the shape of the handle, since the classics are straight or almost and the technical ice axes have gradually abandoned their straight form to adopt a more ergonomic curve shape for climbing and even double handles have been developed or handles for the ice axes more oriented to the climbing of difficulty and to the dry tooling
Finally, the resistance of one and the other is different, although there may be some exception. Generally the technical ice axes are more resistant than the classic ones since their use is oriented to the scaling and they have to support greater loads and wear.