Do You Need an Ice Axe to Winter Hike within the White Mountains?


Men with Ice Axes

If you hike within the winter within the White Mountains of New Hampshire, there are particular routes and trails the place it may be useful to have an ice axe to arrest a fall, chop steps, for stability when strolling on a steep slope, or as an anchor when there aren’t any good handholds round you. While it’s true that you simply don’t want an ice axe more often than not when winter mountain climbing within the Whites, if you need one, it certain is useful to have.

There are hikers, some fairly outstanding ones, who will let you know that you simply by no means want an ice axe for winter mountain climbing within the Whites Mountains. You would possibly very effectively be capable to get by with out one should you follow simpler routes or solely hike in good path circumstances. But an ice axe is an effective security device to hold when tackling winter routes that traverse steep, icy, or sketchy terrain. An ice axe weighs subsequent to nothing and might make the distinction between a harrowing day and one which’s simply managed.

Learning use an axe can be a enjoyable ability to study should you like studying backcountry expertise. You’ll be shocked how helpful it may be. Learning self-arrest with an ice axe can be vital should you ever want to make use of full mountaineering crampons, within the Whites or elsewhere, since an unbroken slide in crampons is a nasty solution to break an ankle or leg.

ice Axe BD Raven

There are three components to a mountaineering/walking-style ice axe:

  • The choose which may be plunged into ice as an anchor level or used to arrest an uncontrolled slide when held within the prepared place.
  • The shaft which may be plunged deeply into snow as a handhold or rope anchor or used as a friction brake when sliding down a slope in your butt on goal (known as glissading).
  • The again or adze, which is used to actually chop steps right into a steep or vertical face so you possibly can climb or descend it safely. The adze additionally makes a passible beer bottle opener should you neglect to deliver one.
Surveying the Osceola Chimney Bypass
Surveying the Osceola Chimney Bypass

Here are some examples of the place I’ve used an ice axe within the White Mountains to present you a way of the paths the place it could actually turn out to be useful in winter:

  • Chopping steps on the very icy and steep Fishing Jimmy Trail en path to North Kinsman. This means making a flat ledge with the adze of the axe, so you possibly can traverse or get down an icy face.
  • Self-arresting a fall on the Lionhead path on Mt Washington.
  • For added stability on the Wildcat Range Trail when ascending Wildcat A (Mtn) from Carter Notch. This part of the path traverses an avalanche zone the place a fall or uncontrolled slide could be very dangerous.
  • As an anchor level for descending the very icy and steep part of the Osceola Ridge Trail from East Osceola (Mtn) right down to the Greely Pond Trail.
  • For stability, and to stop an uncontrolled slide down the west face of Mt Lafayette.
  • For stability, and to stop an uncontrolled slide down the Pine Bend Trail getting back from North Tripyramid.
  • As an anchor and dagger level for climbing the Sabbaday Trail from the Kanc to Middle Tripyramid
  • Climbing the Blueberry Ledge Trail on the best way to Mt Whiteface when it’s useful to have a agency anchor to tug your self up a number of slippery rock ledges that lack good handholds
  • For stability, when descending the steep Walden Trail close to Mt Passaconaway
  • As an anchor and for stability when climbing the ice flows under the Lakes of the Clouds Hut on the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail.
  • Glissading down (sliding in your however utilizing the axe as friction brake) on quite a few increased angle slopes as an alternative of mountain climbing down them.
  • Using the choose as a stable anchor level when climbing Mt Jackson from the East
  • For stability, when climbing the ledges on Mt Crawford or subsequent to the falls on the Nancy Pond Trail in winter
  • As a stable anchor, when descending or ascending the chimney bypass between East Osceola (Mtn) and Mt Osceola
  • For stability, when crossing the avalanche slide whereas descending the east aspect of East Osceola (going through Mad River Notch) in winter.
  • As a stable anchor level or for chopping steps on the Beaver Brook Trail whereas ascending or descending Mt Moosilauke

While I’m certain folks have hiked all these routes with out an ice axe, I’ve to let you know, I really feel a hell of so much safer and extra in management when I’ve one with me.

That doesn’t imply you must carry an ice axe ALL of the time. I don’t. But if you analysis routes with maps and guidebooks or (versus asking about them on Facebook), you possibly can often determine whether or not you wish to deliver an ice axe alongside.

Learn How to Use an Ice Axe

The greatest solution to discover ways to use an ice axe for winter mountain climbing and mountaineering is to take a category with one of many mountain guiding providers in North Conway (NH). I took my first mountaineering course with IME (International Mountain Equipment) a “while ago” and I’ve used it ever since. Redline Guiding is one other information service that can be extremely popular inside the mountain climbing group.

Philip Werner has hiked and backpacked over 8500 miles within the United States and the UK and written over 3000 articles because the founding father of, famous for its backpacking gear opinions and mountain climbing FAQs. A devotee of New Hampshire and Maine mountain climbing and backpacking, Philip has hiked all 650+ trails within the White Mountains twice and has accomplished 10 rounds of the 48 peaks on the White Mountains 4000 footer checklist with over 560 summits in all 4 seasons. He can be the creator of Backpacking the White Mountain 4000 Footers, a free on-line guidebook of the very best backpacking journeys within the White Mountains in New Hampshire and Maine. He lives in New Hampshire. Click right here to subscribe to the PartHiker e-newsletter.


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