Mountaineering Ice Axe Leashes

Mountaineering Ice Axe Leashes

We regularly discuss mountaineering ice axe leashes on our winter skills courses and it is always highlights different opinions.  Our latest top tip shares our personal view on how to manage leashes on general purpose walking and mountaineering axes.  We hope you find it useful.  

We don’t routinely use a wrist leash on general purpose mountaineering ice axes.  They can be awkward when you are zig zagging up or down slopes and have to keep crossing slopes. They might also dangle down and may catch on crampons. However,  for some tasks such as cutting steps or climbing very steep ground they can be useful.  

Our solution? Have a simple leash that can be fitted or removed very quickly.  We make leashes from thin tape (such as Troll 10mm tape) tied with a wrist size loop at one end and a smaller loop at the other.  The leash is light and compact and can be stashed in the chest pocket of your shell jacket.  This ensures you always know where it is and it is ready for quick deployment.

To fit the leash you simply have to slide the tape loop through the top hole on the head of my ice axe then thread the tape back through to create a larks foot knot.  Larks foot knots have well documented limitations but are strong enough to use in this context.  It only takes seconds to fit and you are ready to go.  Removing it is a simple reversal of the above.

We’ve covered choosing mountaineering ice axe leashes but do come and join one of our Winter Skills Courses if you want to learn how to use your ice axe leash efficiently.  For help on what to look for when buying a general purpose mountaineering ice axe do have a read of our guide to Choosing a Mountaineering Ice Axe.