How to Attach an Ice Ax to a Backpack

How to Attach an Ice Ax to a BackpackWhile mountaineering, an ice ax is an important safety tool in steep terrain, but you won't want to carry it in your hand all the time; it should be put away, both to minimize fatigue and to reduce the chances of injury, when you're walking on easy terrain. Similarly, other ice tools should be put away when not needed for climbing or safety. Almost all modern backpacks have at least one or two special loops for securing ice axes so that the most dangerous part of an ax--the pick--is located in the safest position possible.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Locate your pack's ice ax loop or loops. These small webbing loops are just large enough to accommodate the shaft of an ice ax and will be attached somewhere near the bottom edge or seam of your backpack.
Step 2
Pull one of the ice ax loops out, away from the pack, and slide the ice ax down into it, shaft first, until the head of the ax (the pick-and-adze or pick-and-hammer portion) stops the ax from going farther. The bottom point of the ax should be hanging down well below the bottom of your backpack. Rotate the ax, if necessary, so that the point of the pick faces in toward the middle of the pack.
Step 3
Flip the ice ax upside down so that the pick and adze (or hammer) are the lowermost parts of the ax while the shaft is pointing up. This twists the ice ax loop in such a way that it secures the head of the ax against your pack.
Step 4
Secure the shaft to keep the ax from flipping back down. Buckle it into the side compression straps of your pack, if it has them, or locate other bungees or cordage that may be built into your pack and can secure the ice ax shaft close against the side of the pack. Any pack that comes with ice ax loops will also have a means of securing the ax's shaft; you just have to be patient and creative enough to spot this. You want to keep the ax as close as possible to the body of the pack so that the point at the end of the shaft doesn't extend away from the pack and pose a hazard to you or others.
Step 5
Repeat steps 2 through 4, if necessary, to secure a second ax.

Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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