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Borrowing Club Ice Axes and Crampons

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A Friendly Guide

Author: Dave Farrow, May 2011

Ice axes and crampons require knowledge for both care and use. Please take care of the club equipment as if it were your own, as it is expensive and we let you use it for free. Firstly, give it a good look over to see if anything looks broken or damaged. If you damage or lose something, please let the committee know ASAP. They only bite if you don’t tell them.

Care

Crampons and ice axes are metal, and they get used in water (in the form of snow). This means they rust very quickly. Make sure after every walk (even if you didn’t use them) that you get them out and dry them out fully.

If they have got dirty, please rinse them in water before drying, as dirt can speed up rusting.

Ice Axes

Ask someone to show you what length will be best, and how to store it on your rucksack. Watch out for spiking people in the eye while walking around. To dry, take them off your rucksack and leave somewhere dry, where they won’t hurt anyone.

Crampons

Before using, make sure you have adequate boots (ask someone if you're unsure), and get someone to help fit the crampons to your boot. Some club crampons have two bars - use the correct one and don’t lose the other one. Practise putting the crampons on and off, with gloves on.

To dry, take them out the protecting bag, dry the bag and both crampons. Shake off the snow and water (outside the bunkhouse), then leave in a safe dry place to ensure no moisture is left anywhere on the crampons.

At the end of the trip, try to dry them out as much as possible before handing them back to the Safety Officer (but please don’t take them home).

Knowledge

There are many members that are able to help you out - just ask someone that looks experienced. Below are some basic techniques that you should know the first time you go out. Remember the club does not provide instruction or leading and you are still responsible for your own actions.

Ice Axes

Used basically as a walking stick to give extra support, but there are tips and tricks to make sure you don’t fall too far if you are that unlucky. Ask someone to demonstrate and try for yourself:

  • How to hold an axe & its normal use
  • Self belaying & self arrest

Crampons

Just walk like John Wayne. The biggest problem is tripping over yourself - make sure you practise before getting somewhere too scary. Ask someone to demonstrate and try for yourself:

  • Walking along the flat (snow and ice)
  • Walking on sloping snow (up, down, traverse)

If you plan to regularly use axe and crampons, get someone (an experienced member or instructor) to go through winter skills in more detail. Getting your own equipment is recommended as it frees up club equipment for others.