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DaveD

Question about ice tools?

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Hi all,

 

I am keen to start taking on some of the alpine ice routes in the southwest B.C./Northwest Washington area and am wondering what to purchase for ice tools. I hope to get into routes such as Baker north ridge and I am wondering what you would recommend for tools. What do I need to get into steeper alpine ice? When is it necessary to use two tools instead of one? Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

 

Cheers DaveD

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Black Diamond Shrike, one hammer, one adze. Straight shaft if you never expect to get on vertical or near vertical ice, bent if you want to use them for WI cragging, too. They are fine on water ice, but not quite as good as curved tools. If you want a more steep ice-specific tool, I like the BD Rage, CM Axar, Grivel Alp Wing, or something similar.

 

One really cool-looking glacier-axe cross-over ice tool is the new Grivel 58cm air tech something or other. Very cool tool.

 

When to use two tools? Personal decision. Most people use two whenever they are on hard ice, even moderate hard ice. For snow and soft ice, one tool if plenty for up to 50 degrees, for most people. If you need another tool, you'll know. Just remember, I've climbed 50 degree hard snow without any tool, and I've used two tools on 50 degree powder wallowing. Depends on what you have and what you need. If you're good enough, many rules don't apply.

 

No offense meant, but why are so many people posting questions that would so easily be answered by reading a basic how to climb book? You'll need to learn how to climb once you've got those brand spankin' new tools, and the book will be a good resource. Internet forums such as this are better used when you want specifics, as in what people think about one specific tool that they've used. General questions are a bad idea because you will never learn all you need to know from tips posted here.

 

My suggestion? Don't buy any gear. Yet. Go out and buy Craig Luebben's How to Climb Ice book, read it, go though some catalogues, and you'll have a good idea of the kind of tool you want. Then go to REI or PMS or FF or some other local shop, fondle the tool, swing it around. If you like the feel, keep considering them. Once you have a tool you think you might like, then post a specific question about that tool here, to learn about its durability, etc.

 

PS Pretty much all tools on the market are good. What you like comes down to minor differences in balance, shaft diameter, etc. The tools will have their individual stregths and weaknesses, but essentially all are good.

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I climb all ice nowadays with bent shaft light machines. Including snow slopes up to 60 degrees. I can understand the rant bigdrink.gif

 

 

There are better options but I climb waterfalls and alpine stuff with the same set of tools.

 

Whether you agree or prefer to or not is up to you. A good idea is to attend and ice festival and try out new tools there for free as well.

 

 

Some tools I recommend:

 

DMM Fly

Rambo

Pulsar

Quasar

Prophet

Light machine or new equivelent

Edited by Cpt.Caveman

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Hey thanks for such quick feedback, all very good.

 

Cracked- The reason I ask such a general question is that I have been reading a lot of books, many with varying opinions. From what I can deduce for alpine ice a good choice would be a simple straight shafted adze and hammer. After looking at many of the manufacturers web sites it seems as though most companies offer very few choices of this type of tool so I was just looking for some other opinions. When I posted asking about using two tools I think that I phrased the question wrong. I have heard of people using one aggressize axe with one ice tool and I was wondering if anyone uses this system.

 

Once again thank you everyone for your feedback.

 

Cheers DaveD

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heres my suggestion daved. buy some decent tools. two of em. and reputable tools too. climb ice. climb some more ice.

i like straight shaft for multipurpose stuff. youll be digging out yer curved tool if you ever use it as an anchor overnight. i like straight picks like the bd alaska pick. i like leashes and i like em attached to the head only (none of that shaft loop bullshit). i climb vertical ice with the straight tools. then the low angle stuff seems super easy. 50 to 55cm. one hammer one adze. i use the adze in my strong hand cuz ill fukin chop a stance to place gear. fucit. its all aid anyway imo.

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lummox said:

heres my suggestion daved. buy some decent tools. two of em. and reputable tools too. climb ice. climb some more ice.

i like straight shaft for multipurpose stuff. youll be digging out yer curved tool if you ever use it as an anchor overnight. i like straight picks like the bd alaska pick. i like leashes and i like em attached to the head only (none of that shaft loop bullshit). i climb vertical ice with the straight tools. then the low angle stuff seems super easy. 50 to 55cm. one hammer one adze. i use the adze in my strong hand cuz ill fukin chop a stance to place gear. fucit. its all aid anyway imo.

Don't listen to him.... boxing_smiley.gif.......if you want to compromise get the straight shafts, but one day on a steep ice route and you will have bruised and bloodied your hands to hell if you don't get some bent tools. Of course finances typically don't allow for us to have the best of all worlds, so I would suggest getting one straight for your left hand and a bent for your right hand (if you are a righty otherwise....vs.vs). Sounds stupid...but compromise always is. shocked.gif

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schnitzem said:

Don't listen to him.... boxing_smiley.gif.......

whatever fag. i wrote my suggestion to 'buy some decent tools. two of em. and reputable tools too. climb ice. climb some more ice.' didnt specify any fuckin shape. odds are the dude will learn that he likes something a little different from whatever he first gets so fuck it. like them nike marketers say: just do it bitch.

 

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lummox said:

schnitzem said:

Don't listen to him.... boxing_smiley.gif.......

whatever fag. i wrote my suggestion to 'buy some decent tools. two of em. and reputable tools too. climb ice. climb some more ice.' didnt specify any fuckin shape. odds are the dude will learn that he likes something a little different from whatever he first gets so fuck it. like them nike marketers say: just do it bitch.

Just the response I had hoped for.... boxing_smiley.gif....just trying to get a little "spice" into a otherwise boring subject....that and propagate my humble opinion across the forum.

 

Any way you are the fag....big meany smileysex5.gif

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schnitzem said:

Any way you are the fag....big meany smileysex5.gif

prostrate massage is overrated.

go plunge a leashless tool into yer pucker. the_finger.gif

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DaveD said:

Hi all,

 

I am keen to start taking on some of the alpine ice routes in the southwest B.C./Northwest Washington area and am wondering what to purchase for ice tools. I hope to get into routes such as Baker north ridge and I am wondering what you would recommend for tools. What do I need to get into steeper alpine ice? When is it necessary to use two tools instead of one? Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

 

Cheers DaveD

 

hey, hate to get back on topic, but you could consider these:

 

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3626701611&category=30107

 

They're not mine or anything, so I'm not just spamming you here, but a good tool at a good price. Something to look at. If you're willing to spring some more bucks and want something a bit more versatile at a decent price, check out the Aztars or Rages.

 

cheers

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If you intend to do BOTH WI and AI and only want one set of tools, go with a curved handle style tool set.

 

I agree that the BD Shrikes are a good all around tool.

 

I often take a regular ice axe with a WI tool on AI routes that are basic or involves short sections of steep with steps of lower angle in between (most shit that I do). Many do this.

 

wave.gif

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If you're near Everett, Cascade Crags has a foam wall you can swing picks into. You can't do that at a lot of shops, and the feel of how a tool sticks is one thing to consider.

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FWIW, this is what works for me (I only climb moderate ice routes, so I'm not sure how applicable this will be to your situation):

 

For ice climbs, my partner and I carry two pairs of Shrikes. One pair is bent-shaft, and one pair is curved-shaft. The straight-shafted tools are better for all-around use (chopping bollards, clearing rotten ice for a screw placement, pounding in pickets, etc.), so most of the time the leader uses the straight-shafted tools. However, when we have to deal with a steep section of ice, we will switch so the leader can use the curved-shaft tools.

 

For early-season snow/ice climbs that have some alpine ice, my preference is to carry one straight-shafted tool and one ultralight ice axe (e.g., BD Raven Pro, 60 cm). Being able to shaft both the tool and the axe in the snow is nice for those types of climbs.

 

For waterfalls, I use the curved-shaft Shrikes, or (preferably) borrow a more waterfall-oriented tool like a Cobra.

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devilboy said:

hey, hate to get back on topic, but you could consider these:

 

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3626701611&category=30107

 

They're not mine or anything, so I'm not just spamming you here, but a good tool at a good price. Something to look at. If you're willing to spring some more bucks and want something a bit more versatile at a decent price, check out the Aztars or Rages.

 

yellaf.gif that guy just bought them from Sierra Trading Post and is trying to resell them on ebay. mine came in the same cardboard as in the picture. cantfocus.gif what a character. the_finger.gif

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Straight shaft, bent shaft.. WTF? You will learn to climb with what you learn to climb with (Is Yogi Berra out there somewhere?).

 

Seriously, I started ice climbing over 15 years ago with Lowe Hummingbirds long before this bent shaft shiz became all the rage. Replaced the 'birds with BD x-15s (straight shafts) with drooped picks a few years back. I can climb WI-4 easily with straight tools, and have climbed WI-5 with tehm as well before I got married (and fat). So Dave, it's all about good technique. You will be required to use good technique on vertical ice with straight shafts or you WILL bash your knuckles, but it CAN be done without getting hurt. And vertical ice will require droopped picks for security. Just don't bash the shit outta the ice. Accuracy counts.

 

As others have suggested, get Craig's and/or Duane Raleigh's ice books, and maybe even Jeff Lowe's vid and others, and study up with whatever tools you choose. And climb safely. wave.gif

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One thing I learned the hardway is that if you're gunna climb in the mountains with your tools you're going to be doing a lot of plunging as well as swinging. Make sure your tool has a palm-friendly grip from the top for plunging. I bought a set of CM Axars a couple years ago because I thought their moderate curved shaft would be good for the mountains, but the way the pick flares up on the top just bruises the shit out of my palms when I'm doing repetetive plunging.

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For ice climbs, my partner and I carry two pairs of Shrikes. One pair is bent-shaft, and one pair is curved-shaft.

 

Oops, I meant "one pair is straight-shaft, the other pair is bent-shaft".

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In many many cases a mis-matched set of tools is an appropriate compromise. I almost never choose to bring a matched set for varied alpine climbs unless I am bringing 3 tools.

 

The above being said I strongly think that use of mis-matched tools are a not appropriate for beginers. I think that the most important thing for a beginner is to learn the proper swing and feel and use of a single tool. You need to develop solid technique before complicating things by useing different tools. I used a matched set of Hummingbirds for over a decade.

 

If you are an expert framer or contractor you can probably shorten your learning curve. cantfocus.gif

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Be careful with what you buy. Some tools that you might get a good deal on , may be a problem getting replacement picks for. CM is dropping their Pulsar/Axar lines , so picks will be even harder to come by. Another strike against CM is that their picks use too many [ 4 compared to BDs 1] small bolts. I had a pick come loose on me while leading a grade 4 pillar. If I was using a BD tool , I could have done a quick tightening of the bolt using the other tool. To tighten the CM bolts requires 2 hands and 2 allen wrenches. Easy enough back home , but not while on the fly or with cold hands.Also if you do break a pick, which may happen sometime, you might want a tool that you can easily change picks on. Again I prefer BD for that over other makers.BD also makes their picks interchangable from tool to tool with maybe some exceptions, and are generally easy enough to find replacements for.

 

The Grivel Air Tech is a nice light tool as long as it is not too cold and/or the ice too hard. I've seen them break pretty easily.

 

Depending on the route , I will sometimes[ usually grade 3 or easier] use one long mountaineering tool, and one tech tool.

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randygoat said:

To tighten the CM bolts requires 2 hands and 2 allen wrenches

 

CM pick only requires 1 allen wrench, there is enough friction between the female part of the bolt and the soft aluminum of the head to hold it in place. The advantage of the separate bolt system is that you can swap the whole thing out. My partner did the "tighten my BD tool with the other one" thing on a fairly serious alpine route and stripped the threads, which are on the tool head itself, i.e. impossible to fix in the field. He had to finish the route with a shaky pick which shatters the ice something fierce. On a CM, if you carry a spare bolt assembly (which weighs nothing, I keep one attached to my spare pick in case I drop something), you wouldn't have this problem.

 

Seriously, I've never seen anyone try to deal with a loose or broken pick without having two hands free, either they a) place a screw and hang b) pull out their third tool or c) gut it out to the end of the pitch and fix it at the belay.

 

Also, although the pulsar and axar are being phased out, the quasar picks have a second set of holes that fits these tools, so don't despair.

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