An ice tool is a specialized elaboration of the modern ice axe (and often described broadly as an ice axe or technical axe), used in ice climbing, mostly for the more difficult configurations.    Ice tools are used two to a person for the duration of a pitch, and thus in some circumstances such as top-rope-anchored climbs, a pair may be shared among two or more people, where only one of them at a time is climbing. In contrast a classical "ice axe" is used one to a person for the hours or days a party is traveling across snow or glacier. In communities where it is common to refer to an "ice tool" simply as an "ice axe", classic "ice axes" are often referred to as "traveling axes", "walking axes", or "general mountaineering axes" to distinguish them from "tools".
In climbing of vertical ice, two tools are needed in order for the climber (supported by cramponed feet) to use each tool in turn in maintaining balance with the body's center of mass nearly straight above the toes, while repositioning the other tool to a higher level, before raising the body weight with the legs and thereby setting the stage for repeating the process.
Historically the most common type of Ice tool uses a specialized leash that snugly grips the climbers wrist. The length of the leash is adjusted so that when a climber hangs on a leash their hand remains at the tool's handle portion of the axe shaft. This allows the climber to rest on the axe placement by applying minimal grip to the axe shaft. The greatest disadvantage to a leashed tool is the potential to become stuck on the tool in the rest position without the ability to reach the grip and control the tool
More recently leashless ice tools have emerged. Most modern ice tools are curved in such a way that the shaft of the ice axe is not vertical when actively placed. Gripping a shaft slightly canted from vertical is usually much less tiring than gripping a vertical shaft. Leashless ice tools further adjust the cant and its position relative to the main shaft to maximize the comfort and control of the axe. These changes as well as the introduction of finger rest rendered it much easier to grip and hold the axe handle negating much of the "rest" value of leashes.
The disadvantages of leashless tools are the climber's inability to "rest" on their wrists and the potential for dropping a tool en route. Advantages of leashless tools while climbing include the ability to swap tools between hands (or cross and match) plus a climber's ability to move their hands to any part of the tool unrestricted by the leash. A safety advantage is that a climber can not become stuck on their leashes without the ability to reach the tools. This safety feature as well as an effort to make the routes more difficult motivated UIAA to ban leashes during competition.  This ban spurred the development of commercial manufactured leashless tools.
Leashless tools are now often used in conjunction with a 'springer leash' system. This gives some protection against dropping the tools on a long trad route but still gives the most of the flexibility of going leashless. Each tool is clipped to a bungee cord that terminates on the climbers waist usually clipping to their harness. Wrists are not supported and freedom of movement is still maintained. The springer leash is not designed to arrest a fall should the ice axe remain in place, however this is often what can happen in real-life usage.
Many traditional tools are now sold with finger rests or are designed for the easy addition of finger rests. These tools are intended to function with or without leashes.
The physical designs of ice tools differ more widely than those of other ice axes.
Mountaineering, or alpinism, is the set of outdoor activities that involves ascending tall mountains. Mountaineering-related activities include traditional outdoor climbing, skiing and traversing via ferratas. Indoor climbing, sport climbing and bouldering are also considered variants of mountaineering by some.
In rock climbing, mountaineering, and other climbing disciplines, climbers give a grade to a climbing route or boulder problem, intended to describe concisely the difficulty and danger of climbing it. Different types of climbing each have their own grading systems, and many nationalities developed their own, distinctive grading systems.
Climbing protection is any of a variety of devices employed to reduce risk and protect others while climbing rock and ice. It includes such items as nylon webbing and metal nuts, cams, bolts, and pitons.
A mattock is a hand tool used for digging, prying, and chopping. Similar to the pickaxe, it has a long handle and a stout head which combines either a vertical axe blade with a horizontal adze, or a pick and an adze. A cutter mattock is similar to a Pulaski. It is also commonly known in North America as a "grub axe".
A climbing shoe is a specialized type of footwear designed for rock climbing. Typical climbing shoes have a close fit, little if any padding, and a smooth, sticky rubber sole with an extended rubber rand. Unsuited to walking and hiking, climbing shoes are typically donned at the base of a climb.
An ice axe is a multi-purpose hiking and climbing tool used by mountaineers in both the ascent and descent of routes that involve frozen conditions with snow or ice. An ice axe can be held and employed in a number of different ways, depending on the terrain encountered. In its simplest role, the ice axe is used like a walking stick in the uphill hand, the mountaineer holding the head in the center. It can also be buried pick down, the rope tied around the shaft to form a secure anchor on which to bring up a second climber, or buried vertically to form a stomp belay. The adze is used to cut footsteps, as well as scoop/bucket seats in the hillside and trenches to bury an ice axe belay. The long-handled alpenstock was a predecessor to the modern ice axe.
This glossary of climbing terms is a list of definitions of terms and jargon related to rock climbing and mountaineering. The specific terms used can vary considerably between different English-speaking countries; many of the phrases described here are particular to the United States and the United Kingdom.
Ice climbing is the activity of ascending inclined ice formations. Usually, ice climbing refers to roped and protected climbing of features such as icefalls, frozen waterfalls, and cliffs and rock slabs covered with ice refrozen from flows of water. For the purposes of climbing, ice can be broadly divided into two spheres, alpine ice and water ice. Alpine ice is found in a mountain environment, usually requires an approach to reach, and is often climbed in an attempt to summit a mountain. Water ice is usually found on a cliff or other outcropping beneath water flows. Alpine ice is frozen precipitation whereas water ice is a frozen liquid flow of water. Most alpine ice is generally one component of a longer route and often less technical, having more in common with standard glacier travel, while water ice is selected largely for its technical challenge. Technical grade is, however, independent of ice type and both types of ice vary greatly in consistency according to weather conditions. Ice can be soft, hard, brittle or tough. Mixed climbing is ascent involving both ice climbing and rock climbing.
A Halligan bar, also known as a Halligan tool, is a forcible entry tool used by firefighters and law enforcement.
Dry-tooling is a form of rock climbing in which ice axes are used to climb rock that is not covered in snow or ice. It has its origins in mixed climbing, ice climbing and more recently sport climbing. Dry tooling is controversial among many climbers. Some favour it as a new and exciting kind of climbing, while others dislike it for its nontraditional methods and the permanent damage it can cause to certain, generally softer, rock formations.
Mount Moran is a mountain in Grand Teton National Park of western Wyoming, USA. The mountain is named for Thomas Moran, an American western frontier landscape artist. Mount Moran dominates the northern section of the Teton Range rising 6,000 feet (1,800 m) above Jackson Lake. Several active glaciers exist on the mountain with Skillet Glacier plainly visible on the monolithic east face. Like the Middle Teton in the same range, Mount Moran's face is marked by a distinctive basalt intrusion known as the Black Dike.
An ascender is a device used for directly ascending a rope, or for facilitating protection with a fixed rope when climbing on very steep mountain terrain.
Self-arrest is a technique employed in mountaineering in which a climber who has fallen and is sliding down a snow or ice-covered slope arrests the slide by themselves without recourse to a rope or other belay system. Self-arrest can be performed by using ice axe and a combination of a climber's boots, hands, feet, knees and elbows. Use of an ice axe greatly increases the probability of effectively stopping a fall down a snow field, ice field, or glacier.
Petzl is a French manufacturer of climbing gear, caving gear, work-at-height equipment, and headlamps based in Crolles, France. The company was created by the cave explorer Fernand Petzl in the mid-1970s. Their three specialties are:
An ice screw is a threaded tubular screw used as a running belay or anchor by climbers on steep ice surface such as steep waterfall ice or alpine ice during ice climbing or crevasse rescue, to hold the climber in the event of a fall, and at belays as anchor points.
A hex is an item of rock-climbing equipment used to protect climbers from falls. They are intended to be wedged into a crack or other opening in the rock, and do not require a hammer to place. They were developed as an alternative to pitons, which are hammered into cracks, damaging the rock. Most commonly, a carabiner will be used to join the hex to the climbing rope by means of a loop of webbing, cord or a cable which is part of the hex.
An axe is an implement that has been used for millennia to shape, split and cut wood, to harvest timber, as a weapon, and as a ceremonial or heraldic symbol. The axe has many forms and specialised uses but generally consists of an axe head with a handle, or helve.
An alpenstock is a long wooden pole with an iron spike tip, used by shepherds for travel on snowfields and glaciers in the Alps since the Middle Ages. It is the antecedent of the modern ice axe.
Pit Schubert is a German non-fiction author, climber and mountaineer. He is the founder and former head of the safety commission of the German Alpine Club (DAV).