Stash Your Axe

Tip From Doug Workman

Mar 6, 2012
Outside Magazine

You want to go further. You want to become a ski mountaineer. Making the leap from powder slopes to peaks can feel like a big jump. But a few simple skills can go a long way.

Here is one example: You will need to learn to use a mountaineering axe from a qualified instructor, but you can learn how to stash it for quick access. The Axe Stash is a slick guide trick to put your axe away where it can quickly be retrieved if you feel insecure while climbing or descending.

Put your hood on to get it out of the way. Lean your head forward slightly.

Gently stab the shaft of your axe between your back and your pack. The pick of the axe should rest on the top of one shoulder strap. The shaft should be at a 45-degree angle across your pack. If the axe is longer, the end of the shaft will protrude a bit out the opposite side of the pack that your pick is facing. Voila! Your axe can quickly be drawn from its’ pseudo-scabbard during your next transition from a rocky scramble to a steep couloir. Just don’t forget that it is there when you take your pack off, as the axe may tumble down the slope making you look more like a gaper than a guide.

Doug Workman is a heli-ski and ski mountaineering guide based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Valdez, Alaska.

Website: Jackson Hole Mountain Guides