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GoCougs

Leash length

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To leash or not to leash. For a nice little hill climb I typically have a wrist leash. Now whether it is used is another question. Crossing a glacier - you bet. Plodding along where I am zig zagging back and forth I might or might not be using it. Most of the time I do, learning how to switch the leash from wrist to wrist is not that hard. it just gets to be a PITA when going only a few steps and in some cases I might not switch at all especially when going down hill.

 

As for the length, the leash is as long as my axe - this length is so that if I want to chop a step or use my axe as a tool I can slide my hand down to the spike so I can swing it properly.

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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.

 

I'm not sure what this has to do with a leash. A clumsy person could fall on an ax if it were leashed or not. What I have seen first hand is someone dropping into a crevasse with an unleashed ax and them watching their ax go clanging into the dark pit. That kinda put an end to the trip. I've also seen someone trip, fall, and then leave their planted ax behind that was leashed! So I guess "hang on" is still the first rule. I'll go with SS's advice; use a leash on the glacier, functional length, discretion when switchbacking.

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My point is that the axe is a hazard if not under control, leash or not. If it is not in control, it is best to be farther away from your valuable body parts. Yeah a lost axe may or may not end your trip but having one stuck into your belly sure will.

 

all that I am trying to say is that you need good reasons to use a leash of any kind. (or axe for that matter) Wrist leash for technical and steep climbing come to mind. (leashless masters please understand I am talking about using leashes on straight shaft mtn axes) I would use a leash for chopping steps too. But blindly using a leash all the time when it is not needed is increasing your odds of a bad accident without the benefit. this is not good risk management. It is all a personal choice. I don't think that the risk of losing my axe worth the hazard. Maybe you think the hazard is not that much. therefore your risk analysis is different.

 

for what it is worth, I don't know of any accidents that a falling climber impaled themselves. (other than the solo hiker in the woods) Plenty of people sliding into a crevasse though. Sliding out of control is something that more snow climbers need to prepare for and prevent.

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