Objects Database

Bhend Ice Axe

Accession Number


Object Name

Bhend Ice Axe




Hermione Cooper

Accession Date


Brief Description

Bhend Ice Axe with leather safety cover.


wood, steel


head 30(l) Shaft 75(l) cms

Number Of Objects


Inscription Description

"J.F HENDER " and inside an elipse "BHEND SCHWEIZ SWITZERLAND"


silver, brown



Object Production Place



Karl Bhend started making ice axes in the little town of Grindelwald, Switzerland, way back in the 1860's and 150 years later Karl's great grandson, Ruedi, is atill making them in almost exactly the same way and to the same specification.
The Eiger looms large above Grindelwald and many of the early climbers heading for the North Face had a Bhend with them. Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tensing took Bhend axes to the summit of Everest in 1953 and Swiss Mountain Guides have used Bhend ice axes on their trips to the mountains from the very beginning through to the present day.
Things have changed however, and the days of Bhend ice axes may well be numbered. Having been designed specifically as a tool to cut steps in ice, modern techniques have consigned this style of axe to the history books. Many Swiss Guides continue to carry and use a Bhend but this seems to be as much about tradition as practicality. There is a collector's market for what is probably the last, handmade, wooden shafted ice axe in the world.
Ruedi still makes ice axes(2015) though for how long only time will tell. The supply is very limited and the waiting list long. If you could get one in 2015 it would cost you 400 SF (£270) which makes us very happy since the one we have here in the collection came with a load of other gear bought off the internet for £25.
The name J F Hender is stamped on the pick so we assume he/she was the previous owner. The amount of aging/ pitting on the head when we got it (see picture opposite) seems to indicate that the axe is several decades old, though it has obviously never been used. Unfortunately, we don't know who J F Hender was so I guess we'll never know the story - it's still a fabulous axe though.

Acquisition Method

Donated by Mick Tighe

Acquisition Date


Condition Check Date



Spectrum : UK Museum documentation standard, V.3.1 2007



Go Back

Click to see larger view

Click image for enlarged view

Click to see larger view

Click image for enlarged view

Click to see larger view

Click image for enlarged view

Click to see larger view

Click image for enlarged view

Back to top