February 5, 2020

Why it's called an ice axe strap + Guide's pre-order closes Thursday

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A close up of an ice axe  being held by an ice axe loop.


It’s Wednesday and that means the 2020 Guide’s Edition pre-order closes tomorrow. A few things:

The Guide’s Edition Synik 22 and Synik 30 were so popular we diverted bag-making capacity to them and from the Guide’s Edition Synapse 25 — which was much less popular this time around. That means it’s possible we won’t offer the Guide’s Edition Synapse 25 in the future… so, if you were hoping for one in a particular currently available color, now might be the time to place your order.

Several of you have asked about the ice axe loop and corresponding accessory strap holder on the Guide’s Editions — as in, when and where might someone carry an ice axe? We strap a general-purpose mountaineering ice axe (not to be confused with the typically shorter ones used by ice climbers) to the outside of our packs for early spring hikes in the mountains. Any time our trail might still have sections of still-lingering snow and ice that require us to either continue on and cross a tamped down but still slippery section of snow-covered trail (downhill of which is a steep snow slope) or hike up and over the snow slope or up and over from it to connect back with the trail. Before doing either of these things is where we stop, remove the ice axe from the front of our packs, and use it sort-of like one might use a shorter walking stick — with the pick pointed backwards, hand wrapped around the adze / head of the axe, using it for support in the snow. This way it’s ready should we need it to perform a self-arrest.

A self-arrest is not some sketchy legal maneuver, but rather a way to stop sliding down a snow slope: we recommend taking a class from your local mountain shop or guide service (or even R.E.I.) to learn the proper method. While basic ice axe skills are not technical climbing, it’s still best to learn from a pro.

Of course, the accessory strap holder and corresponding loop are useful for a variety of objects shaped like an ice axe — a camera tripod, walking poles, tent stakes, and, uh… a tripod or walking poles or tent stakes. OK, there’s not all that many objects shaped like that, but for many of you such attachment points will prove useful for one of those items or another.

Oh wait: you’re really reading this because you’re admiring that ice axe, aren’t you? The ice axe pictured is the Chouinard Piolet — designed by Yvon Chouinard and made by Italian masters, it’s a thing of beauty… where art, craft and design meet for aesthetics and utility.





Rei - March 29, 2020

haha I love this note (and beautiful axe, but I don’t even need walking poles when hiking… for now)

too bad for the GE’s Synapse but a little expected, I love mine so much (so thankful I have been able to grab mine at the 2018 pre-order)

BTW I do use the axe strap to hold… my jacket

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