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GoCougs

Leash length

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So for my first post I have a question. I'm 6'0" using a Black Diamond Raven 70 cm Ice Axe. What size leash should I be using so I can have it attached to my waist?

 

 

Thanks guys,

 

I'm hoping to learn a lot from this site

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The best length depends more on your other physical dimensions other than height. (like arm length) But the good thing it is real easy to give you 2 responsible answers fitting for a person with thier first post to cc.com. (so that means I will be nice but expect crap from others possibly)

 

response 1- you need the length of webbing to be long enough so you can stretch your arm all the way out without having lots of extra slack. (trip hazard) So imagine that you are on a 45 degree slope and trying to stuff the axe in vertically. That would be the longest that the axe will be away from you. that is what you need plus a inch plus the length of knots. You won't be using commercial leashes for this as most are too short. You will need to experiment and shorten probably as you climb more.

 

response 2- the best length for a waist leash is 0 inches. in my opinion, don't use it. There are specific times to use it like climbing the fixed lines on denali (where you gotta free your hand for moving the ascender around fixed pro so losing the axe is a likely probability) but most of the time it is just a liability. In my 20+ years of climbing I have never dropped my ice axe. There is a natural tendancy to hang on to it. (maybe if you have serious "butter fingers" dropping habit then maybe you should disregard this) The reaL problem with waist leashes is if you fall. Then there is no guarantee that you will keep control of the axe. If you got the axe in control, then no problem. If you lose control while sliding down the hill, then this sharp implement if flopping around, usually at head level. Near your eyes. and your head. which you need. For the whole ride down. You will not be able to grab it either unless it is stuck in your neck in which case you can't take it out till at the hospital anyway. Point is that is a serious hazard that I think the benefits don't outweight. It is a personal choice though and you gotta decide for yourself the pros and cons.

I never thought the reason that the waist leashes could save you if you slip (with the axe vertically shoved in the snow) as a likely event. The scenerio I heard was that you r axe is vertically stabbed in. Your feet slip out and you let go of your axe, then the waist leash holds you. I think it is very unlikely that both happen and that slips usually happen on the descent where you are not plunging the tool anyway.

 

Anyway, I hope I answered your question and gave you something to think about. Be safe brother.

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response 2- the best length for a waist leash is 0 inches. in my opinion, don't use it... There is a natural tendancy to hang on to it...

 

ditto... if you are about to fall because you slipped or miss stepped you will naturally tighten your grip on whatever you have in your hands. plus, a leash gets in the way when you are making turns and then must switch yer axe to the other hand - you have to stop, take the leash off the one wrist, put it on the other and then keep moving. if you are roped together then this is going to slow the pace of the whole team because everyone will have to stop while the leash is switched from wrist to wrist. my advice is to get comfortable without it... practice carrying yer axe in yer off hand when on easy terrain and you will start to feel more comfortable when you are trusting your balance and stability to your weaker hand - you'll eventually become proficient with either hand and that is what you want to shoot for. best of luck!

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Please listen to the above two posts. Then, if you still wish to use a leash, consider a short wrist loop attached at the head or the axe. The short leash will keep your hand in position during a self-arrest,-should the axe grab SUDDENLY, the leash will keep the axe from being ripped from your grasp. In my opinion, this is really the only reason to use a leash. If you're sliding you definitely DON'T want the axe tied to your waist - it may well beat you to death if you lose control of it...

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I have to agree with the excellent points allready made, especially about switching hands at turns, theres allready enough rope and prusiks to worry about, without complicating things with an axe leash

 

My personal experience with leashes has been during beginning mountaineering practice sessions with large groups. The main reason I heard for the leashes, was to keep the leash from becoming a falling object hazard to the rest of the group. Additionally, the slopes where self arrest practice generally occur are not super steep where the leashed axe is going to become flailing object hazard to the climber.

 

One last point, I use my axe most during summer scrambles where short snow stretces are interspersed with rock and being able to quickly stow the axe behind my pack and access at the next snowfield helps me move quickly.

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Last summer was my first climb. When our guide met us before the climb to check our gear, one of the first things he did was take the leash off of my axe. For all of the great reasons listed above. I'd rather watch my axe go flying down the side of a mountain then having to be air lifted to a level one trauma center to have it dug out of some part of my body.

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OK, that is exactly what I wanted to hear. Thanks for all the information guys. Im just gonna have to go out there and see what I like and don't like

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First Rule of Climbing is, Hang On To The Axe!

Second Rule of Climbing is, Hang On To The Axe!

Third Rule of Climbing is, HANG ON TO THE AXE! (also expressed as "HANG ON TO THE F***ING AXE!!) :grin:

 

Having said that, if expecting the occasional moderately steep, short ice pitch on an otherwise straightforward alpine climb, where ice tools aren't really justified, a leash can be helpful when temporarily using the axe as an ice tool, in the position known as "piolet ancre",("ice axe, anchor") as Wyvon Coonyard introduced it to American climbers back in the early 70's.

 

Using a short axe or the old North Wall hammer, a leash of 1/2" webbing with a wrist loop, should be long enough to enable you to have a firm, comfortable grip just above the spike on the lower shaft of the axe, after turning the axe in the hand a couple of times to tightly wrap the leash around the shaft. In his book "Climbing Ice", Chouinard also shows a way of taking a simple half-hitch around the shaft of the axe to effect the same secure grip. Of course, further on in the book are photos of Chouinard demonstrating piolet ancre with no leash whatsoever, nor for that matter, roped up. In which case the above Three Rules of Climbing are to be observed. Plus the Fourth Rule, DO NOT FALL.

 

Or, you can just bring alpine-compatible 'hybrid' ice tools such as the BD Venom, with regular leashes, and switch off from the axe when you reach your ice pitch. Not as classic, but it might be practical in the case of routes that are becoming a bit more technical than before, due to the effects of climate change on what used to be steep snow, or loss of snow cover in late season.

 

Finally, under no circumstances would I climb with the axe attached to the waist by a leash, EXCEPT when clipping into the leash while using the axe as a belay anchor at the top of a pitch, as you would with ice tools. But never while moving over terrain.

Edited by Mtguide

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First Rule of Climbing is, Hang On To The Axe!

Second Rule of Climbing is, Hang On To The Axe!

Third Rule of Climbing is, HANG ON TO THE AXE! (also expressed as "HANG ON TO THE F***ING AXE!!) :grin:

didn't jim bridwell say that the first rule of climbing was that there are no rules? :P

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Finally, under no circumstances would I climb with the axe attached to the waist by a leash, EXCEPT when clipping into the leash while using the axe as a belay anchor at the top of a pitch, as you would with ice tools. But never while moving over terrain.

 

O rly?

ueli-2.jpg

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I don't know. If you are not climbing ice with two tools that are capable of being used leashless I wouldn't use a leash that attaches to your harness. It could just too easily get knocked around and hurt you in a bad fall. Just use a wrist leash. I mean, the only downside is having to switch hands on the leash.

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"Last summer was my first climb. When our guide met us before the climb to check our gear, one of the first things he did was take the leash off of my axe. For all of the great reasons listed above. I'd rather watch my axe go flying down the side of a mountain then having to be air lifted to a level one trauma center to have it dug out of some part of my body."

 

I have also heard this from other experienced climbers. I don't agree. Losing an ax can mean death probably as often as being mangled by a secured ax can.

When I was way younger a leash saved me from a pretty decent fall on the brothers.

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in this guys case a leash to his waist makes sense. If he falls, he is dead with or without the leashes. If he falls, the leash "may" catch him. if he loses a axe, he may die.

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Have a leash on your ax, you don't have to use it, just keep it looped on the head of the ax. There are certainly instances where it is nice to have a lease, such as glacier climbing. You fall in a crevasse,its nice not to have your ax go to the bottom. Mixed terrain also, you don't want to loose your ax down the hill when you need it for the descent. Most of the time you don't need to use a lease,but there are those times and if you slip and loose your ax, see ya!@! But a waist lease is not cool unless using ice tools.

and I agree with Kenny!

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So for my first post I have a question. I'm 6'0" using a Black Diamond Raven 70 cm Ice Axe. What size leash should I be using so I can have it attached to my waist?

 

 

Thanks guys,

 

I'm hoping to learn a lot from this site

 

i'm 6'4" and use a 60cm and a treking pole...if you're just talking glacier travel...BD slider leash which attaches to you wrist...long enough to switch hands while frenching...not too long to trip over...and its adjustable

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Does anyone ever find it useful to plant your ice axe as a personal belay when it is attached to your waist, such as when resting on a steep slope?

 

Ideally you don't want to rest in terrain that is exposed to hazards be it exposure to falls, avy, rock fall, etc... That said, if no other options presented then you could do that. Personally though, if I was going to rest on an exposed, steep slope that I felt I should anchor in on, I might consider putting in an actual anchor like a picket or flute.

 

Edit: To answer your question directly, I've never done that (that being using it as anchor while resting), so I would say I've never found it useful. I've used it as an anchor while climbing, and even in an ankle belay, but that wasn't in a spot where I felt like I could fall.

Edited by gyro

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There is a technique called self belay where you face the ax in the opposite direction than normal and plunge the ax in fairly hard and put one or two hands on it. It is effectively a self-belay when used correctly. It is also good to use when tired or on steep ground.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self_belay

 

But, as said before, this can be done without a waist attachment.

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Finally, under no circumstances would I climb with the axe attached to the waist by a leash, EXCEPT when clipping into the leash while using the axe as a belay anchor at the top of a pitch, as you would with ice tools. But never while moving over terrain.

 

O rly?

ueli-2.jpg

 

The waist leashes are only good for this style of climbing where a fall is not an option. It's a self belay and keeps you from dropping your tools...which you can't self arrest with anyway...if you fall you die...if you lose a tool your close to death. I only know a few people that can climb 80 degree ice without tools...but for general mountaineering...yep no leash. Most the time I forget to put my leash on my wrist anyway...I've never dropped my axe either.

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I agree - I don't want to worry about dropping anything.

 

Maybe I'm just lucky but I've never seen anyone hurt with an ice axe during a fall. I have seen a dropped ice axe from high up, sliding fast down Mt Adams twice but was able dodge it both times. I also saw a Guide on Mt Rainier drop his ice axe down a cravasse and then had to lead his clients down without one. I've seen a guy on the DC, while on rocks, have his crampon slide across a boulder, dropped his ice axe to catch hinself. Now he's up high with no ice axe. Seems like a leash might have been a good idea?

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I know a guy who came across a dead man on the trail as he tripped and fell onto his axe while just in his hand. Just because you know of cases where it would have been nice to have the leash doesn't mean that it is a good idea. In your examples, they were able to walk away. Impaling oneself is much different than inconvience.

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