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Ice Axes, Bent or Straight?

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
I started skiing in the backcountry a few years ago, and have done some tours in the Wasatch and Teton ranges, but they were just day tours. I finally convinced a friend of mine to go on a late season multi-day tour on Mt. Shasta over Memorial Day weekend, and have some questions about climbing gear. Most of the gear I either already have, or I am going to rent, but there are a couple of pieces of equipment I would rather own myself:

1) Climbing shoes with Crampons: I would rather own these and break them in to have a pair that I know fits before I go. My question is what is the difference between walking in AT boot compared to Climbing boots? Are the At boots more diffcult to walk in? If so, would the increased difficulty be surpassed by the extra weight required to pack my Alpine boots in my pack and switch off when it is time for a descent?

2) Ice Axes : I still may rent these if they are nessecary on the route we choose, but my question is about the grip. What are advantages or disadvantages of having a bent grip over a straight grip? Is it mearly personal preference, or is there a mechanical difference in the way the axe is used according to its grip?

Thanks for the help.
post #2 of 2
Wow, sounds fun - can I come too?

1. AT boots are essentially a compromise between mountaineering boots and alpine downhill ski boots. However, the compromise has gotten much better over the years. The latest generation (i.e., Scarpa Laser, Garmont GSM, Lowa Struktura/GTX/EVO, Dynafit All Terrain) is reasonably good for skinning/walking/climbing, and for skiing is comparable to a decent recreation alpine downhill boot. For example, my Garmont GSM boots are far clunkier for walking that the plastic mountaineering boots I've tried, and they don't ski as well as my Rossi KX race boots, but I would definitely bring them on this trip as opposed to a two-boot approach (unless you're facing a several- mile approach over boulders and scree fields before you hit snowline).

2. Ice axes with curved grips are generally for ice climbing. You just want a basic mountaineering axe, which is surprisingly affordable. And if you get an aluminum shaft (though probably with a steel head), they're also quite light.

Have fun!
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