Mountaineering ice axes have a straight shaft and are what you would want to use when climbing mountains such as Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, or South Sister.

Mountaineering ice axes are very easy to size. You want them long enough that you can use them somewhat like a walking stick or a cane on steep terrain but short enough that they're not unwieldy and you can still self-arrest with them should the need arise.

To size a mountaineering ice axe, grip the ice axe over the head with the pick pointed backwards the way that you would as though you were carrying it when walking on a mountain. Drop the ice axe to your side and stand normally upright. The spike of the axe, that is the point at the end of the shaft, should hang just a few inches above the ground. Roughly around the height of your ankles or a little bit higher.

Ultimately, sizing an ice axe is a personal preference and there's no one right way to do it. Over the last hundred years or so of mountaineering, ice axe sizing and styles have changed greatly. Ice axes are now sized shorter and are lighter and are used more as a self-arrest tool and less as a walking stick.

While ultimately ice axe size is a personal preference this is a general guide as to how you should size an ice axe. If you're not familiar with how to use an ice axe, make sure that you familiarize yourself or are climbing with an experienced climber before you head out on your adventure. Fitting an ice axe is easy but be sure you know how to use it before you head out.

Stop by our shop and talk to our staff in the climbing department or the rental shop if you have any questions.