The use of poles in mountaineering
is now widespread, due to its benefits.
What do they offer us?
Reduction of the work load
Research has proved that poles reduce the work load on our legs while ascending about 14%; during descents, it is close to 20%. For that reason, the use of poles enable us to prevent muscular and joint injuries, speciallly on knees and ankles. It also minimizes accident and falls due to exhaustion.
Our balance improves, as we have four support points. The probability of falling is lessened, particularly in descent, so our safety is enhanced.
All this translates into higher performance; energy is spared, which will enable us to complete our climbs or expeditions.
Naturally, the use of poles implies a slight effort on our upper body, if used properly. Poles are not meant to be leaned on with our full weight, they must become a part of us. Except when on ocassion they help us not to lose balance, we must follow this rule: if the pole were to suddenly disappear, we wouldl still keep our balance. It is a subtle support.
By observing experienced climbers, we will notice that the pole accompanies their motion, resulting in a gentle, harmonic stride; the poles become an extension of their arms.
An alpinist who uses poles consistently, will be at the end of his/her career in much better shape that someone who hasn’t used them.