I've seen whippets while skiing and am thinking of taking one (or two?) on a 4 day tour in glacier terrain, but am confused as to their purpose. Do they replace ice axes or are used in conjunction with them?

  • 1
    Answer: It depends. Your question is way too broad. Please specify to get a useful Q/A scenario here.
    – Wills
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 20:32
  • Your questions need sooo much more detail. I would talk to a local guide that has done the route. Putting you in the right gear half the value and they will often give advice for free.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 20:50
  • The whole point of a whippet is so you don't need to bring an ice axe. Bring one or the other based on your anticipated need.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Feb 14, 2017 at 21:18
  • 3
    This is now a clear question of whether a whippet can/should replace an ice axe on a glacier -> voting to reopen.
    – imsodin
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 7:30
  • 1
    some info: alpineinstitute.com/articles/ask-a-guide-letters/…
    – user2169
    Commented Feb 15, 2017 at 14:19

2 Answers 2


Whippet is an attempt to add some ice axe capabilities to a ski pole.

Several combinations

  • one whippet
  • one whippet and one ski pole
  • one ice axe and two ski poles
  • one ice axe

I don't think two whippets makes sense.

Personally if I think I might need self arrest then I want an ice axe.

If I am going to ski down something steep enough that I am worried about stopping if I fall then I want two ski poles to minimize my chance of falling (and probe for snow conditions).

A whippet when you have conditions you feel you can stop (arrest) with a whippet. And you don't think you could stop without one.


Disclaimer: I don't use whippets and have never even hold one in my own hands.

From the build of a whippet and a question about whippets on AAI (provided by Ben Crowell) it has a very narrow use case: Difficult skiing terrain, where holding an ice-axe significantly decreases stability and thus increases chances to fall, and well known terrain and conditions.

Well know terrain and conditions is very important, as whippets can only help to quickly arrest when you slip, but they can't fulfill other requirements of an ice-axe: Building a T-anchor, plunging and ascending on ice (at least it is only of limited help there). If you are sure that these factors (and probably more that I forgot) are not an issue on your specific tour, you can leave behind the ice-axe.

So for your use case of a glacier tour over several days it is certainly not a replacement, as you need the ability to build a t-anchor to get someone out of a crevasse. And unless you plan to ski very difficult and hard packed sections, it is probably not worth taking them as an addition.

And as to whether to take one or two whippets: If you take whippets, you probably want two. Otherwise you had to swap them whenever you make a turn in descent.


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