Ice and Snow Protection

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A fire lookout tower

Ice Protection

Tubular Ice Screws

Ice screws are the main type of protection used for climbing ice. These hollow tubes with sharp, pointed ends and threads are literally screwed into hard ice. Hangers on the end let you clip in your rope. Some styles have extendible handles for faster, easier placement. Ice screws generally come in three lengths, 13cm, 17cm and 22cm.

Ice Pitons

Just like rock pitons, ice pitons are pound-in protection. They come in two styles: tubular, threaded styles that you unscrew to remove and sharp hooks that resemble ice tool picks. Hooks can be placed in old tool holes, over ice bulges and in cracks in ice or rock. They can be useful for thin or easily fractured ice where screw placement is often not possible.

Snow Protection


Pickets are long, aluminum snow anchors used for setting up crevasse rescue pulley systems, as belay anchors, or for running belays.

Typically 24" or 36" long with a series of holes drilled through them, pickets are either pounded in vertically or buried horizontally as "dead man" anchors. When anchors are needed in a hurry (as with initial set up of a crevasse rescue system), they are driven in at about a 40° angle up-slope from the direction of pull, then pounded in as far as possible. The hole nearest the snow's surface is used for the anchor point so as not to put too much leverage on the top of the picket.

Pickets generally hold better in firm snow. In soft snow, they must be buried in order to hold securely.


Flukes are snow anchors shaped somewhat like pointed shovel blades. Made of aluminum, they are flat and nearly rectangular, but slightly bent in the center like an open book. A steel cable is attached to the center from which runners and carabiners are attached for making the anchor. Flukes hold well in soft, deep snow. If placed at the correct angle, they get buried deeper as more force is applied to them.

Flukes must be completely buried and set at the proper angle to the slope and the direction of pull in order to be effective. It takes practice to set them correctly.


Ice Tool Holsters

Attached to the waistbelt of your seat harness, holsters are useful for storing 1 ice tool when placing pro or when using only 1 axe on lower-angle ice.

Ice Screw Clips

These specialized clips hold your ice screws on your harness more compactly than carabiners can.

Caps and Covers

Protective rubber covers are available for the sharp points on the working ends of ice screws.

Padded Cases

Padded cases protect the other gear in your pack from sharp points of ice tools, screws and accessories.