Ice Axe Leashes/Tethers


Original Post
Aaron D. · · Anchorage, AK · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

Thoughts on ice axe leashes? Are they necessary? If so, when and where should they be used/not used? High alpine? Mixed? Etc.? What are the ups and downs of the different styles, like the Petzl V-Link or a regular leash.

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 107

If dropping your tools might cause to to die or have an epic, use leashes/tethers.  Otherwise, don't bother.

Big alpine routes, long multipitch routes that are a grade that is hard for me, even single pitch leading on "difficult" ice I would consider using them.  Toproping in Ouray, single pitch moderates, mixed cragging, I don't bother.

Dharma Bum · · Glen Haven, Co · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 430

It's really a personal choice based on your comfort and confidence. I never use leashes, but I do use a homemade tether of cord and mini-biners for long alpine routes.  I tried it for the first time in Cody last winter and the tether really did not get in the way at all.

Aaron D. · · Anchorage, AK · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0
Kyle Tarry wrote:

If dropping your tools might cause to to die or have an epic, use leashes/tethers.  Otherwise, don't bother.

Big alpine routes, long multipitch routes that are a grade that is hard for me, even single pitch leading on "difficult" ice I would consider using them.  Toproping in Ouray, single pitch moderates, mixed cragging, I don't bother.

Thanks man, when you do decide to use them, what leashes do you use and why?

Aaron D. · · Anchorage, AK · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0
Dharma Bum wrote:

It's really a personal choice based on your comfort and confidence. I never use leashes, but I do use a homemade tether of cord and mini-biners for long alpine routes.  I tried it for the first time in Cody last winter and the tether really did not get in the way at all.

I can't quite picture it but that tether setup sounds awesome. Do you have a photo of it?

Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 615

Check out the Blue Ice Boa tethers - they work great. The Petzl V-Link looks good too.  Like the other posters state, I only use tethers on technical alpine climbs where losing an ice tool would severely impact my ability to move over technical terrain, leading to an epic.  For a pure ice climb, the consequences are lower for dropping a tool.  Regardless, you should never be dropping an ice tool.

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 107
Aaron D. wrote:

Thanks man, when you do decide to use them, what leashes do you use and why?

I use the ones with two pieces of stretchy stuff and 2 carabiners.

In all seriousness, it doesn't matter that much.  BD, CAMP, Grivel, Petzl, and others all make suitable tethers, and lots of people also do DIY.

Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 615

I own the BD Spinner leash and hate it.  The "carabiners" are very weak and come unclipped from simply climbing.  I often find the gate of the connector outside of the connector itself, rendering it useless until I fix it.  

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 107

Haha.  I have the same one and it works fine for me.     Those carabiners are crappy though.  I found they work a lot better if you tie a little loop of cord to the hole on the axe and clip them to the cord.


I am going to try the Petzl ones, they are super light.  Good enough for Colin Haley soloing Moonflower, should work for me on AI3. 

Dharma Bum · · Glen Haven, Co · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 430

 Here it is.  I just rigged it up with stuff I had lying around.  1 length of cord, 2 small dyneema slings and 2 mini biners.  I girth hitch the dyneema to the pommel and it holds surprisingly well (the hole in the end spike is just too small to accommodate anything else). I clip the fig 8 at the end of the cord into my belay loop.  Not elaborate but it works OK.  The key is to get the right length so it does not hinder your swing while not being too long to entangle in your feet.  I just clip the tools to the harness and stuff the loose ends in my leg loops while rappelling or hiking to the next pitch. The cord can also be used to build a thread if necessary, making it multi functional.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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