10 Things To Know – Part Three: How to fix a broken ski pole

Post by WildSnow.com blogger | September 19, 2007      

If you’re in timber country, a bomber ski pole fix is easy. Here’s the method I use. Takes 10 minutes max. All blog readers out there, comments and ideas always appreciated!

Repair broken backcountry ski pole.
First, whip out that Gerber or other multi-tool and fix the crimped ends so they’re as circular as possible.

Repair broken backcountry ski pole.
Find a tree branch that’s slightly larger than inside of pole. Strongest wood is a dead branch that’s still on a tree. Cut a piece of branch about 4 inches long, then whittle down this dowel so it’s a hair larger than inside of pole.

Repair broken backcountry ski pole.
Pound one end of your dowel into the pole using a rock, side of an ice axe head, or whatever makes a good whacker. Stick the other pole on the wood dowel and pound it on as well, so the broken ends of the pole mate. The idea here is to get a good tight “press-fit” of the dowel.

Repair broken backcountry ski pole.
Find another tree branch that’s about finger diameter and make 3 pieces, each about 6 inches long. Tape these struts on the outside of the repair, approximately equidistant from each other. After a preliminary tape job to locate the struts, tape them super tight. Add compression with a few ski straps if you have them. The tape is key as it keeps the struts from sliding up and down the pole, but good compression is also important — you don’t want any play in the repair that could wallow out the fit. If done well, this repair is amazingly strong and keeps your pole at its original length, although the added weight will feel like you’re carrying a Sioux war club.

If you don’t have trees available, simply overlap the two ski pole ends by about 6 inches, then use copious tape and ski straps. If you’ve got adjustable poles, extend them to compensate for the repair. If you’re above timberline you’ll have to use the overlap method. Hose clamps are best for that — they’re a good addition to any extensive repair kit, but tape and straps will do the job.

The list:
10. Jump start a car without blinding yourself.

9. First-aid a serious laceration.

8. Rip skins in the wind without giving your scalp a bikini wax.

7. Fix a broken ski pole with duct tape and pocket knife.

6. Do a jump turn in the face of danger.

5. Start a fire in the snow while you’re shivering.

4. Read a topo map quickly.

3. Quickly dig a person out of an avalanche.

2. Keep your feet warm.

1. Practice a humble mindset so caution rules the day.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


20 Responses to “10 Things To Know – Part Three: How to fix a broken ski pole”

  1. Toby Whelan September 19th, 2007 11:22 am

    How does the taping work in deep snow, bad conditions, or when it is really, really cold?

  2. Ricky September 19th, 2007 12:37 pm

    Any suggestions on carbon fiber poles… I had one cut clean in two last season.

  3. Njord September 19th, 2007 12:08 pm

    Never tried the wood on the outside, but instead I carry 2 hose clamps and the “middle” section of a cut-up beer can (PBR seems to work best for some reason)… you can fix more than just poles with the beer can!


  4. Danny B. September 19th, 2007 12:20 pm

    I’m loving the list, especially the article on victim excavation, that is great stuff that is definitely not common knowledge but should be.

    One skill I think might be a worthy addition is some knowledge of what are the most practical/best snow anchors and techniques for belays/rapps, etc. with a focus on the needs of BC skiers as opposed to strictly climbers.

    Sometimes a rope and knowing how to use it can come in very handy out there!

  5. Joel September 19th, 2007 12:43 pm

    Toby – duct tape doesn’t work when it gets really, really cold…..nor do most adhesives. I’ve found a good replacement for duct tape with Zip ties.

  6. Lou September 19th, 2007 4:03 pm

    Ricky, I’d just overlap the carbon fiber pole break, then tape and strap. You could easily make a repair kit from a ski pole section that was sliced, along with a couple of hose clamps. That way you could repair and still have a full length pole.

    As for tape in bad conditions, it’s indeed problematic. That’s when the straps come into their own…

  7. Lou September 19th, 2007 4:05 pm

    Oh, one other thing, when using the repair I suggest do put a bit of tape on the broken ski pole joint to resist it gradually coming apart on the dowel.

    P.S., Tecate cans work better than PBR cans, in my experience (grin).

  8. Tom September 19th, 2007 5:02 pm

    I made myself the identical lifelink kit about 10 years ago. Just took one broken pole, and midwinter storm conditions in northern CO to get me thinking back at home. Old pole sections cut and then halved with some hose clamps. I have given it to fellow bc skiers twice and they were good to go. Not quite sure what to do with super light poles (carbon, etc). I like the tree idea but it seems like alot of work when you can wip out a fix. Plus I carry and extra flicklock and basket.

  9. David Aldous September 19th, 2007 5:20 pm

    Could the ski pole fix kit also double as a tent pole repair kit?
    If that is possible then it could potentially have two purposes on an overnight trip.
    Ski straps have certainly come in handy. I’ve used one to temporarily fix a snowshoe binding.

  10. Skinny D September 20th, 2007 2:29 am

    Hi, I broke a pole in a treeless part of Norway a few winters ago and fixed it by using the extending part of an Ortovox shovel handle. Simply slid the broken ends into the handle so the broken parts were in the middle and butting up against each other and taped around the pole and tube top and bottom to keep them in place.

    A bit flexy but for simple poling across undulating terrain perfectly adequate. Best of all was that it only used one bit of the avalanche shovel handle so the shovel was still useable if needed (not in this case as no chance of avalanche).

  11. chris September 20th, 2007 5:35 am

    Regarding duct tape: try Gorilla tape instead (it’s black). It’s stronger and stickier than duct tape and stands up to water much better.

    Regarding a pole: I cut several sections of an old ski pole and end up with a set of graduated collars. I do not cut them in half. Slip broken ends in the right size collar, squeeze hard with pliers to “weld”, and wrap with Gorilla tape. I used this method last year in the field in very harsh weather and it worked well. I wonder if stronger than hose clamp tech? Very light, and how confident can you be about finding the right stick, like if you’re touring well above tree line?

  12. Gerome October 9th, 2007 3:44 pm

    Here’s an easier fix, taking only a minute or two, plus duct tape. If the pole was broken relatively low near the basket, take the tip of the broken section and turn it backwards to insert the narrow tapered tip into the upper part of the shaft. Then duct tape the basket to the pole. The downsides to this method are that your basket will end up inches higer than designed (i.e. at the break) and that the pole will have some floppieness, something like Lamar’s javelin in Revenge of the Nerds. But for some people that may help their skiing style out, and the weight of the repair will be negligible.

  13. Mar' October 10th, 2007 6:03 pm

    Preventive maintenance for busted poles? Use some of that pre-season angst to measure your ski pole’s diameter. Go to the store and buy some aluminum tubing that is close 16mm=5/8″, smaller for~heck just take the pole to the store, scrap yard. Use your old busted poles.

    Put the tube section 100mm/4″ in a vice and make just one cut along its length. Pre-compress or expand the tube to fit your ski pole. Make at least one for each different diameter pole section (adjustable). Add multiple nylon ties And a couple bomber (small!) hose clamps from either
    Comp Cams and Power House for Gator Clamps or Wurthusa.com for their Zebra Clamps. They are designed for race cars.

  14. pop up tent January 20th, 2009 1:03 am

    great article. I will bookmark this

  15. Paul February 7th, 2009 7:55 pm

    Or just ski without. If you’re just going down hill, you don’t need poles. Make the same motions with your hands and arms that you would use if you had poles, and you will get the same response. I managed to sprain both thumbs at Jackson Hole, so I skied without poles and had no problem keeping up with friends using this technique, but you need the poles for the uphills still.

  16. Manager August 12th, 2009 6:21 pm

    The same technique can be used to repair curtain poles, wooden poles can be glued whilst with the metal curtain poles, and you can insert the wood into the tube and push the other tube to form a joint.

  17. Chris Smith November 19th, 2009 5:43 am

    Ductwork installation services in the uk can be hired to increase snowfall in your area. New technology based on global warming research.

  18. glenn February 24th, 2010 7:10 pm

    Yep, that really works Lou. I took a big fall on a pole coming down Pearl Pass toward Friends recently and snapped the pole. I managed to get down to Friends and repaired the pole there. In a slight variation of your fix, I “borrowed” a wooden spoon at Friends and cut off the bowl of it to make the dowel. I splinted the pole with some stiff kindling, but the splint serves only to hold the thing together–the load is borne by the pole and dowel setup. If I hadn’t had duct tape, I’d still be there–duct tape is essential to any backcountry trip.

    P.S. I intend to replace the spoon at Friends with two.

  19. Leslie February 2nd, 2012 9:01 pm

    For an out of the field repair. Small doweling inside (we used as much of the doweling as would fit so there’s no need to anchor the inside), 2 7-inch pieces of cove molding, and gorilla tape outside. I haven’t skied it yet as these are my alpine poles but it feels bomber. I do like the graduated old ski pole collars as well but I was at home depot and that’s what we came up with.

  20. glenn February 2nd, 2012 9:05 pm

    Yes, that works and I’ve done it. Here’s a footnote. For the dowel, you can use the shaft of a wooden spoon in the kitchen of a hut. If you do, replace it someday with two.

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