Mt. Shasta, and the Petzl Snow Scopic Ice Axe

Ice axes started out in the 19th century being long staffs with a point at one end, and were called alpenstocks.

By the 1970s the typical mountaineering ice axe was much shorter, but was still long enough to be used as a walkingaid, especially on sidehills.  In the 1980s and 90, ice axes got shorter and shorter, lighter and lighter.   However, the short ice axes were not much good for walking, but great for overhead chopping.  Petzl/Charlet has a model which is the best of both worlds.  It is very light, fairly short, but has an extension with a ski basket which makes it a great walking aid.  It is called the Snoscopic.  I used this little gem on a climb of Mt. Shasta and Mt. Borah in recent years, and really like it.  The only drawback is that when you use the ice axe point as a rudder when glissading (sliding down the mountain on your butt) the basket pops off, so you have to remove it for glissading.

Here is the Petzl/Charlet Snoscopic helping me scramble up an ice chute on 14,100' Mt. Shasta in northern California.