Ice Axes and Eurostar

10 Mar 2022


This seems a perennial subject but many will be aware of a seeming reversal of Eurostar policy in 2021 resulting in the prohibition of carriage of climbing and mountaineering equipment classified as “dangerous.”

In response the ESC has formally written to Eurostar and prompted a joint letter from Mountaineering Scotland, BMC and Mountaineering Ireland on the matter.

In response, Eurostar have replied today that:

" ... the luggage policy concerning the carrying of mountaineering equipment on Eurostar has not changed.  A passenger is able to bring mountaineering equipment on board – we ask only that any passenger carrying this kind of equipment makes themselves known to a member of the Eurostar team in the station on arrival so that they can ensure the smooth passage through the security/baggage check.

Our website team have been briefed to remove the reference to ice axe, climbing and mountaineering equipment from the dangerous sports equipment section".

These website changes may take a week, but in the interim I wanted to post this clarification as members may be travelling by Eurostar in the coming days.

11 Mar 2022

Steve Lenartowicz

Declan, thank you for your work on this.  Great result! Let's hope it's the last time that the issue has to be addressed!

12 Mar 2022


Brilliant result on this perennial issue - congratulations to all involved. It will make it much easier to promote carbon-friendly train travel to the Alps, thus supporting the club's climate care policies. As of today (12 Mar 2022) the Eurostar website doesn't seem to have been updated. Would it be an idea to make an image of the letter recieved from Eurostar available to wave at any over-officious security people?

15 Mar 2022


In answer to John, I travelled Eurostar last week, declared my axe etc, and the frontline staff knew all about it, and waved me through. I had a copy of the Eurostar email ready, but didn:t need to call on it. 

04 Dec 2022


Has anyone got recent experience of this?


13 Jan 2023


Does anyone know if there are any restrictions on taking avalanche airbags on eurostar, the ones with a gas canister. Anyone taken one recently?

14 Jan 2023


Never had an issue taking a snow pulse on Eurostar. Haven’t tried anything more pointy and my last trip was a couple of years ago so not recent experience sadly. 

14 Jan 2023


Thanks Rob. I sent a question into Eurostar too. I’ll post their response.

14 Jan 2023


Hi all,

I travelled with ice axe and crampons by Eurostar in March 2022 and had no problem.

15 Jan 2023


PaulRobbins - I travelled on Eurostar with a Mammut airbag (with filled canister) on 30 Dec 22. At St Pancras they identified it in my luggage and had me show it to them. They discussed among themselves and then accepted it - I didn’t have to show any paperwork (Mammut provide some supporting paperwork on their website, aimed at airlines). I hadn’t declared it as I was not aware of a problem. On the way back through Paris there was nothing said. 

15 Jan 2023


Thanks Magda and Freddy, very reassuring. Freddy, your experience reflects mine when travelling through airports with the airbag. Often lots of head scratching and whistling through teeth in the UK and even in one case an extended bag search. Whilst in Europe just waved through. 

18 Jan 2023


Quick update. I have just been through security and passport control at St Pancreas for the Eurostar. Ice axe, crampons and airbag in same bag. Straight through. 

29 Jan 2023


One final comment from me on this. A week after travelling I received a reply from Eurostar to my question about avalanche backpacks and ice axes. For avalanche back packs they referred me to the information on the website (therefore no help). For the ice axe they said it is a prohibited item and would not be allowed on board. 

30 Jan 2023


From Paul Robbins' comment, it looks as if not all Eurostar staff are aware of the official policy. Despite Declan's comment at the top of this thread, there also still doesn't seem to be an unambiguous statement on the Eurostar website (perhaps they need a nudge!). It might be wise for anyone travelling with an ice axe securely packed in their luggage to take a printout of Declan's post (or the equivalent statement on the Alpine Club website at

04 Feb 2023


Just heard from son Ian, tarvelling back from Argentiere meet and his ice axe was taken off him on Euriostar, was told that company policy is that they are not allowed. seems like he persuaded the conductor to return it after the joiurney, but this was not neccessarily going to happen. Beware!


21 Feb 2023


Problems with Eurostar and ice axes continue. We were fine going from London to Paris. We were stopped by the French customs and security checks. They are independent of Eurostar and so were not familiar with Eurostar policy. Fortunately I had the letter from Stuart Younie printed out ready to hand to them. A manager from Eurostar was called who said eventually that it was ok  but only after consulting the letter. For anyone travelling on Eurostar  I recommend taking that letter and be prepared for delays of 30 minutes for extra checks. 

22 Feb 2023


Thans Ian Cooper and Anne Winther for your feedback to me. In response, I have once again written to Eurostar:

"You may remember that in February 2022, (at our instigation) the British Mountaineering Council, Mountaineering Scotland and Mountaineering Ireland wrote to ask for clarification of Eurostar policy regarding the carriage of ice axes and mountaineering equipment. In your reply, of 10/03/22 to Stuart Younie of Mountaineering Scotland, you wrote:

To be clear, you are able to bring mountaineering equipment with you when you travel by Eurostar. We ask only that any passenger carrying this kind of equipment makes themselves known to a member of the Eurostar team in the station on arrival so that they can ensure the smooth passage through the security/baggage check. 

Our website team have been briefed to remove the reference to ice axe, climbing and mountaineering equipment from the dangerous sports equipment section

Unfortunately, our members report that there are still problems in Eurostar travel, with Eurostar staff and Security staff (especially in Paris) being unaware of this ruling leading to refusal to carry mountaineering equipment, at significant cost and inconvenience to our members.

Clearly there may be issues of training and information dissemination here, but it would help if there was a positive statement from Eurostar on the website confirming that ice axes and mountaineering equipment are allowed for travel. Failing that, would you be happy for the copy of your e mail of 10/03/22 to be made available for our members so that they have some evidence of policy to show to Eurostar and security staff?"

In the interim, whilst awaiting a reply, I am happy to individually share a copy of the Eurostar e mail of 10/03/22 comnfirming that ice axes can be carried. It is slightly privileged information which is why I am awaiting permission from Eurostar to share publicly.

Feel free to e mail me on

27 Feb 2023


Just returned from a trip to Arolla.  No issues with an ice axe and boot crampons on Eurostar in my big bag.  Ice axe well buried, and packaged with duct tape and cardboard.

21 Mar 2023


Just to Update: - Eurostar have got back to me following my e mail of 22/02/23 to say that in response to our concerns they have issued an update to the Paris Nord team and the "Douane" manager has briefed the security team re permitted carriage of Ice axes.

I also have gained permission from Eurostar to publicly share the e mail clarification 10.03.22 on this issue and have uploaded it on the "Train Travel and Tips" page in case members wished to show a positive statement from Eurostar confirming that ice axes and mountaineering equipment are allowed for travel.

22 Mar 2023


Thank you Declan for all your efforts with this. The next challenge is UK train companies and in particular ScotRail. Fingers crossed that UK train companies see the light. 

23 Mar 2023


Thanks Tim - and in response to recent issues with Scotrail refusing to carry skis, I have written to Stuart Younie (Mountaineering Scotland) and Scot Simon (Snowsports Scotland) who have said that "they will jointly be raising the issues with Scotrail and working with UK counterparts (BMC, Snowsports England etc) to support sustainable travel within the industry".

24 Mar 2023


Good work. In other sustainable modes of transport, Megabus policy is: "You can bring your skis/snowboards, as long as they’re in suitable protective packaging and meet the requirements of our luggage policy* (size and weight). We don’t have any special racks for carrying skis/snowboards, so they’ll be carried in the hold of the coach - and will count towards your luggage allowance. If we agree to carry skis/snowboards on any one journey, it doesn’t mean that we’ll be able to carry it on your subsequent journeys...we only ask that it weighs no more than 20kg. It can’t be any bigger than a standard ‘large’ suitcase (75cm x 50cm x 32cm)" which is not encouraging. One wonders if anyone at Megabus has ever seen a ski. And if you get past the size restriction on the way out, they may refuse them on the way back. 

Perhaps a letter to them would be helpful. I don't suppose they will ever get overwhelmed by skis in the UK and bus operators on the continent seem to manage when they are carrying mostly skiers. It seems an arbitrary rule addressing a nonexistent problem.

22 Jan 2024

Steve Lenartowicz

No problems today at St Pancras with a bag containing ice axes, crampons, rope, etc. etc.  We had the Eurostar letter handy but did not need to use it.

02 Feb 2024

Steve Lenartowicz

Today at Gare du Nord we had to unpack our (shared) bag so that they could look at the axes.  The security people checked with Eurostar who gave the all clear.  Again, no need to show the Eurostar letter but it was reassuring to have it handy.  It's worth allowing a bit of time at check in for this.

10 Feb 2024


Just returning from Terry Ralphs’ excellent intro course in Leysin. Had to unpack bag completely at St Pancras a week ago but no real trouble once they saw what all the pointy things were. Today at Gare du Nord again pulled out with a focus on the ice axe. The bag scanner notified his boss who made me show him the axe and called HIS boss. While we were waiting I started showing him the letter but fortunately when the big boss arrived he said (in French) “it’s an ice axe! It’s on the list!”  So all good but definitely expect to have to get stuff out and have the letter hand on phone or printed out. And of course being completely solid that it’s all already approved makes all the difference in the conversation. Thanks so much Declan and others for pursuing this and providing the clarity. 

20 Feb 2024


Unfortunately a negative Eurostar experience with an airbag canister today. Travelling London - Paris last week I was asked to show them the cartridge (Mammut, steel). The very helpful security assistant checked with her manager who immediately confirmed it was ok. 

Travelling back Paris - London today I was asked to show the cartridge and immediately told it was totally forbidden. When I explained I had travelled out with it I was told the French had different rules. The junior Eurostar supervisor seemed to be suggesting the canister was dangerous to children because it contained something which would hoover up the oxygen in the carriage if it escaped. The customs official said it was clearly stated in the regulations and that I should have read them when I booked. I asked him to show me and he shrugged his shoulders. There’s nothing on the Eurostar website about them - the only reference to compressed air is in the context of air guns. Eventually a more senior manager (Gary) came over and explained that airbag cartridges are prohibited as the increased pressure in the tunnel makes them liable to explode like a grenade. I don’t follow the physics of that but he told me with some satisfaction that he had confiscated five last Saturday. 

However he did tell me that just this once he would let me travel with it as I had come out with it, but that it would go on his daily report and should never happen again. 

Gary was clearly indicating that air canisters are prohibited as a matter of Eurostar policy, but the justification he offered and the absence of any mention on the website makes me doubt it. 

21 Feb 2024


Thanks for report Freddy - French side Eurostar security seem to be extra officious and my A level physics doesnt square with "airbag cartridges are prohibited as the increased pressure in the tunnel makes them liable to explode like a grenade".

Glad that you stood your ground and won through, but I will formally write to Eurostar asking for clarification of travel with Avalanche airbags - and will report back.

21 Feb 2024


Thanks Declan, much appreciated.

31 May 2024


Regrettably reopening this ongoing Ice axes and Eurostar thread, but just a precautionary update to inform members travelling out by Eurostar for summer Alpinism.

Over the ski season, members have continued to be challenged on carriage of mountaineering equipment (ice axes) mainly when returning through Paris or Brussels terminals. In most cases, members have been able to negotiate carriage on production of the documentation from the March 2022 clarification. However, some members have been informed that this clarification is now no longer valid, and that Eurostar are currently working on a revised list of mountaineering equipment that can be carried on Eurostar. There has been no change on the Eurostar website and mountaineering equipment is not currently categorised as dangerous and restricted in carriage.

I wrote to Eurostar 26.04.24 to ask for clarification but so far have not received a reply. I have escalated the issue to Mountaineering Scotland and the BMC, who have formally written to Eurostar 29.05.24 requesting clarification and offering involvement in any review of carriage of mountaineering equipment.

So for now, I would still cautiously encourage members to "Go Greener" and travel to/from the Alps via Eurostar but would suggest that members carry copy of the March 2022 Eurostar clarification and in the absence of any change on the Eurostar website be prepared to argue your case, if stopped at French or Brussels terminals.

Will keep you posted.

12 Jun 2024


Thanks for all the work on this - very much appreciated. I am Hutting in September in Austria, travelling out & back by train, including Eurostar, so will update on my experience upon my return!