Two of our group had walking poles on a recent 9 day tramp over a variety of sometimes difficult terrain (which was perhaps reflected in the fact that at least one of the poles was demolished by the end of the trip). It became clear that the poles were very useful in some situations, of limited use in others, and a down-right nuisance in still other situations. Towards the end of the tramp, when the simple demands of multi-day tramping had cleared the mind of the host of concerns of normal life, a couple of us had some brilliant ideas on how the poles could be made much more useful. Despite the ridicule these ideas received from our fellow tramping companions, we are convinced that our inspired brilliance will lead to great advances in the functionality of the humble walking pole. We have therefore decided to share these ideas with the wider tramping community in the hope that others will appreciate the proposed advances - patents are pending on all the following:

  • a pop-out sucker at the foot of pole for when extra grip is required on wet, slippery rocks.
  • a spring-loaded grappling hook ejected from the foot of the pole for when the next handhold is just too far to reach (the more advanced models will include a motorized winch to pull you up!) .
  • pop-out ice-axe adze, pick and spike, removing the need to carry both an ice-axe and pole.
  • pop-out suckers on the side of the pole so that the pole can be quickly attached to the pack for those 'interesting' sections of travel (Note all poles will be installed with a remote location beacon and come with a separate locator unit for use when the pole gets ripped off the pack in scrub or for travel in avalanche prone areas in which case it is recommended that you give your pole to someone else).
  • obstacle proximity sensor at the foot of the pole to warn of all those logs and rocks that you trip over because they're hidden by ferns and re-growth.
  • push button height adjustment for differing terrain (available on motorized models only).
  • scrub-cutting rotating blade on the foot of the pole for when there's no sign of any track at all (available as an optional attachment on motorized models).
  • pop-out hook-grass deflector.
  • a full range of electronic options for the top of the handle, including GPS, compact CD player, flip up computer screen with a full selection of games (the pole handle functioning as a joy stick), and flip up TV.
  • power source will be rechargeable batteries in the handle recharged by solar cells on the top of the handle and solar cell 'wings' that fold out from the handle during rest stops.
  • a chainsaw model is also being investigated, although size may be a bit of an issue with this model.

If anyone has any other suggestions, please feel free to forward them to:

Swiss Army Walking Poles Incorporated
P. O. Box 987654321

Peter Eman and Alan Ross

Dear Aunty Ice Axe.

I need your advice. For most of my life I have been an active member of the Blindfold Dominos (Australian Rules) Canterbury League but now my life is being blighted by the incompetence of our committee. I have never understood what they actually do really - it can't be that hard just to schedule a few games and make sure St Johns are standing by, and there are enough biscuits at our little get-togethers. Now they have tried to actually take a decision - and what a shambles! Every time we have a game my friends and I take the opportunity to interrogate anyone there who is on the Committee, but now they just seem to be avoiding the games, which just shows that they don't really care about the ancient and culturally significant sport of blindfold dominoes either. What should we do?



Dear Frustrated

It is annoying watching someone else trying to do something we could do so much better. What luck that so many of you willing and able to do a better job come the next elections. If that fails, I have only one piece of advice: become an agony aunt and experience the complete satisfaction of being paid for giving other people advice.

Aunty Ice Axe