Full Record<< Back
||ice axe, metal, wood, leather, nylon, 'Aschenbrenner', black and orange tape wound around shaft|
||metal, wood, leather, nylon|
||29 (w) x 78 (l) x 8.5 (d) cm|
|Number of Objects:
||brown, silver, black, orange|
|Object Production Place:
|Object Production Date:
||The ice axe, an Austrian-made Stubai Aschenbrenner Lightweight, was supplied by the late Robert Lawrie's climbing shop in London. It was bought in the late 1960s, the dying days of an era of climbing gear which had remained largely unchanged for decades.
The axe, with its light head and ash shaft, was intended for moderate winter use, adequate for step-cutting in snow and braking in the event of a fall on steep slopes. The shaft, though, was barely suitable as a belay stake. Axes with heavier heads, capable of cutting into ice, and tough hickory shafts were necessary for serious mountaineering. Nevertheless, the modest little Aschenbrenner, as part of my family's climbing gear armoury saw - as its condition testifies - extensive use, often borrowed by friends who took it on outings to the Lake District and North Wales and at least twice to 4,000-metre Alpine summits. The damage to the bottom of the shaft is the result of repeated tapping against crampons to dislodge packed snow. The axe also featured in a number of spirited glissades on snow slopes, using its shaft to lean back on while tobogganing on boot soles. [Glissading was neatly summed up by the late and illustrious Alan Blackshaw in "Mountaineering", his 1965 bible of hill-craft and rock-climbing. "It has been well said," he wrote, "that there are three types of glissade - standing, sitting and involuntary -and that they usually follow each other in close succession"].
In the early 1970s the classic ice axe mercifully began consignment to its current status: service as museum pieces. A revolution in mountaineering gear brought a step-change in climbing safety and practice. Ice axes were given short shafts and curved picks to match the arc described by the tool as it struck and to confer deeper penetration. Then came Hamish MacInnes's short-shafted axe with a straight, sharply-angled pick to be placed with a down-and-in motion, the perfect tool for the constricted ice gullies which were the playground of its inventor.
I am now 81 and an armchair climber with many happy memories of hills and crags but I remain a member of the Climbers' Club and the London Mountaineering Club. My eldest daughter and also a C.C. member, now carries the family banner as an active and enthusiastic mountaineer and rock-climber.
||Mountain Heritage Trust|
||Mountain Heritage Trust|
||Spectrum : the UK Museum documentation standard, 1997|
|Related Items:||Ice Axe|