Leashes can assist you to hang on to your tools while ice climbing, but they can also get in the way and increase the danger of injury if you fall.
Leashes used to be used in ice climbing, but they’ve largely been obsolete in recent years. People are less likely to utilize ice axes as gear manufacturers continue to develop more inventive ice leashes and ice climbing as a sport develops in popularity.
About Ice Climbing Leashes
A lease is a device that you attach to your axe and loop around your wrist to keep it taut; it aids in retaining control of the axe.
During the early days of ice climbing, leashes were far more popular. Ice climbing did not exist as a solitary pastime before Jeff Lowe took mountaineering principles and applied them to ice climbs; earlier vertical ice was almost avoided. Axes had almost universally straight handles with little to no grip at the time.
The only way to acquire a stronghold on steep terrain with these tools was to utilize a leash. When you wrapped the leash over your wrist and linked the other end to your axe, it provided support while you held the ace.
The leash kept the axe straight as you swung it and allowed you to hang your axes hands-free (a massive advantage on long or bumpy routes).
As ice climbing became more popular and more gnarly lines were climbed, however, gear makers began to adapt.
They devised the ergonomically shaped ice tools that we use today, with curved handles and rubber grips that allow you to grip without leashes. As a result, climbers began to challenge themselves by climbing routes without a rope as a test of their strength and endurance.
Let’s dive into the concept of leashes a little more.
Pros of Leashes
While the advantages of leashes have been largely lessened as a result of the design of modern ice climbing equipment, this does not mean they have vanished entirely. There are three main pros to be considered:
The importance of your swing in ice climbing cannot be overstated. You must be able to drive the tool into the ice both forcefully and precisely. At the same time, you must reduce the amount of energy required.
Leashed ice climbing tools make gaining a proper placement with your tool much easier due to the leverage they provide.
Falling during ice climbing must be avoided at all costs, and ice climbing leashes assist in this endeavor. They allow you to take the weight off your forearms and ‘rest’ on your tools because they loop over your wrists. You can relax your grip on the leashes and rely on them to hold you in place. On long, bumpy trips, this is a huge advantage. If you start to feel exhausted, simply let go of your hands and hold on to the leashes for a few moments to regain your power.
Decreased probability of Dropping Your Tools
You won’t have to worry about dropping your tools if you use a leash. You’re less likely to fumble with the handle and spend one of these spinnings towards the ground because they’re tied to your wrists. This is especially beneficial if you’re resting or installing an ice screw; anyone who’s ever climbed knows how strange it feels to stab your tool into the ice and leave it there while you place an ice screw.
Cons of Leashes
So, despite all of these advantages, why has the popularity of leashes waned in recent years? Apart from the introduction of more futuristic equipment that does not require leashes, there are a few key reasons why people have stopped using them:
As routes become more technical and ice climbing becomes more difficult, you’ll need to be more inventive with your beta. Leashes, on the other hand, tend to get in the way.
When you’re tethered, even simple tasks like matching both hands on one axe and then shifting hands to advance laterally become nearly difficult.
Difficult to Set Up
Another difficulty with leashes is that if they are attached incorrectly, they might cause more harm than good. The primary issue here is that your hand position when strapping on your harnesses while standing on the flat ground differs from your hand position when swinging an axe. As a result, new ice climbers link their leashes to their axes incorrectly.
Greater Fall Danger
Finally, if you fall, leashes can injure you. This can occur in one of two ways:
- Your feet have cut out on you, and your hands are too feeble to hold the axes in place. The leashes keep you in place, but also twist your arms in strange ways and put a lot of strain on your shoulders in the process. This can result in damage to the upper body.
- You slide off the ice and lose control of your axes. Your axes are now tied to your body via the leash as you fall, rather than staying fixed on the wall or simply dropping to the ground. They run the risk of swinging around, tangles or impaling you.