Ski Poles

Ski poles aren't only for use with skis. They beat an ice axe for balance when you're trudging with a heavy pack over level or low-angle snow, slippery ground or scree, or when you're trying to cross a stream or boulder field. They also can take some of the weight off your lower body. And the basket at the bottom keeps the poles from slipping deep into soft snow, a favorite trick of ice axes unless they're fitted with a special snow collar.

A variety of ski poles have features helpful to the trekker or mountaineer. Some poles telescope for adjustability on slopes and ease of strapping on a pack. With removable baskets, they can serve as a probe for crevasses or avalanche victims. Some poles fasten together to form an extra-long probe (fig. 12-10). Some poles both telescope out and fasten together. You can also buy a special self-arrest grip that has a pick protruding forward from the top, but this definitely is not a substitute for an ice axe on technical terrain. Most of these poles can be used whether you're traveling by foot, snowshoes, or skis.

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  • steven johnson
    Can ski poles substitute for an ice axe?
    9 years ago

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