How to Avoid Dropping Ice Screws

Mikepowers Small

by Michael Powers, IFMGA
AAI Senior Guide & Director for Staff Development


When climbing ice and removing ice screws I'm always afraid of dropping the screws, especially when wearing heavy gloves. What's the best way to remove the screw without dropping it?

- Bob Silver (Arcata, CA)


Dear Bob,

This is the sequence I use:

  1. Loosen your wrist leash. Depending on the leash, this will require loosening the slider towards the head of the axe, untwisting your hand, hooking the leash on the head of the axe, or unclipping the mini snap link from the leash to the axe. Using a leash-less tool simplifies all this.
  2. Then plant your ice axe firmly near the screw.
  3. Take your hand out of the tool leash, remove the rope from the quick draw, and then remove the quick draw from the screw.
  4. Finally unscrew the screw using your gloved hand and clip it to a prepared biner on your harness.

So what's to stop me from dropping the screw? Honestly nothing. I just clean the screw with the attitude that I can't afford to drop it.

- Mike Powers

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