An ice axe is a multi-purpose tool mainly used in snow and ice conditions to climb up and down mountains. They typically range in size from 60cm to 90cm (24in. to 36in.). An ice axe can be used in a multitude of ways depending on the needs of the user. It can be used like a walking stick while going uphill but is to short for level or downhill terrain. It can be used as an anchor with a rope being tied to the shaft which then can be used to climb up a steep hill or wall. However, the pick part must be placed in a secure place or it will not stay put. Ice axes can commonly be found in an outdoors store. They can be an effective weapon against the undead with the pick part being able to puncture a skull. However, since the pick is curved it can easily get stuck in the zombie since it is meant to stay put. Even with its drawbacks, it can be a valuable weapon and, as with most multi-tools it can also be used for many other purposes and can be easily carried on a rucksack. It seams unlikely however that in a zombie apocalypse you would be climbing up high mountains.
An ice axe has at least 5 components:
- Head — usually made of steel and featuring a pick and adze. A hole in the center is provided for attaching a wrist leash or carabiner.
- Pick — the toothed pointed end of the head, typically slightly curved. Adze — the flat, wide end of the head.
- Hammer — the hammer is an alternative to the adze. It can be used as a more comfortable grip or it can also be used as a hammer.
- Shaft — straight or slightly angled, typically wider front-to-back than side-to-side, flat on the sides and smoothly rounded on the ends. Traditional shafts were made of wood, but are now almost exclusively of lightweight metals (such as aluminum, titanium and steel alloys) or composites (including fiberglass, Kevlar or carbon filament).
- Spike or ferrule — a steel point at the base of the shaft.
Other components or accessories of the ice axe are:
- Leash — nylon webbing with an adjustable loop for securing the axe to hand. Often secured by a ring constrained to slide a limited distance on the shaft.
- Leash stop — a rubber keeper or metal stud preventing the leash from slipping off of the ice axe.
- Snow basket — similar to baskets on ski poles, temporarily mounted on the shaft close to the spike to keep the shaft from sinking into soft snow.
- Pick and adze guard — a cover to protect from sharp edges and points when the axe is not being used.
- Spike guard — a cover to protect from the sharp spike when the axe is not being used.