My ice axe, along with my crampons, are my 2 most important tools for snow and ice travel. The ice axe helps me balance and prevent a fall. If I do fall (and I have), it can stop my fall. This is called a "self-arrest", which I practice every time I get back into the mountains.

The other thing an ice axe can do (it's very versatile!), it can be used as part of an anchor when rescuing somebody.

An ice axe consists of at least five components:

A leash attaches the ice axe to my wrist.

Oh, in case you're wondering, my ice axe is a little under 60cm!