50 Art of Travel.
axe, slightly heavier than the first ; and as this is the shape which appears to us the best adapted for mountain work of all kinds, we desire shortly to state our reasons for recommending it to members of the Club.
In the first place it is absolutely necessary that one of the cutters should be made in the form of a pick, as this is by far the best instrument for hacking into hard ice, and is also extremely convenient for holding on to a snow-slope, or hooking into crannies, or on to ledges of rock.
For the other cutter we recommend an adze-shaped blade, and we are convinced that this is the form which will be found most generally useful, as being best suited for all the varieties of step-cutting. The hatchet-shaped blade used by the Chamouni guides is no doubt a better implement for making a staircase diagonally up a slope, but on the other hand it is exceedingly difficult to cut steps downwards with a blade set on in this manner; and as mountaineers rarely come down the way by which they went up, if they can help it, it is obvious that this objection to the Chamouni form of axe is conclusive.
We recommend that the edge' of the blade should be angular instead of circular, although the latter shape is more common, because it is clear that the angular edge cuts into frozen snow more quickly and easily.
The curve, which is the same in all the axes, approaches to coincidence with the curve described by the axe in making the stroke. A curve is, in our opinion, desirable, in order to bring the point more nearly opposite the centre of percussion, and to make the head more useful for holding on to rocks or a slope.