A:One word: Ouch.
But seriously, what are you suggesting you try? You dont really think carrying an ice axe around will solve things, do you? I mean, here you are, zooming down the slope on a snowboard, and you fall and start to tumble or slide. True, maybe you could self-arrest. But thats if you dont first fall on the pick end of the axe, giving yourself a sucking chest wound or worse. Or, you hit some else, impaling them on the point.
The best I can suggest is that you carry a light, compact ice axe in a pack. Then, if you hit some steep, icy terrain, perhaps you could take it out and carefully use it to get yourself down. Camp USA makes a very light axe called the Corsa ($110; camp-usa.com) that weighs just seven ounces, so you hardly notice you have it. REIs Fall Line Hydration Pack ($99; rei.com) could hold any gear you need, plus it has tie-down locations for the axe on the outside. But Im very nervous about the idea of a pointy thing like an ice axe that close to your head or anyone elses.
One other option is the Black Diamond Whippet Self-Arrest Ski Pole ($100; bdel.com). Its exactly what it sounds like, a ski pole with a self-arrest adze at the handle. But then that means you have to snowboard with a ski pole (although it telescopes and could store in a pack). And, its kind of a mean-looking tool. But, maybe better than that long, sliding fall
The 2008 Winter Outside Buyers Guide is now online. From snow sports to trail-running to camping, get reviews of more than 300 new gear must-haves.