How to Grip an Ice Ax: Self Belay and Self Arrest

As cool and shiny as a brand-new ice ax looks strapped to the back of your hiking pack, occasionally you’ll have to take it off and actually put it to work. Like any tool, it’s only an asset if you know how to use it. There are many techniques and methods for employing an ice ax to aid progress in the mountains, but let’s start at the beginning: the two basic ways of holding it.

CMC Trip #30701: Little Bear Peak via West Ridge and Southeast Face

Classic pre-dawn morning start. On the trail by 04:00 to climb the gully. The advantage of doing it this way is you do not have to look up at what you are climbing. By day, it is a miserable little gully, both up and down. But at night, it just feels like a steep ascent on sketchy dirt and rock. Crawling along the solid gully wall was the best way. Another reason for an early start is the weather. In our case, weather would be our friend all day long.

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