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Dr_Crash

Yet another ice tool question

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Before I plunge for a pair of Aztar (one hammer, one adze)... Is the Quark a much better tool, worth the extra weight on an alpine climb? Main use will be alpine and tooling around on local ice (crossing fingers).

 

I looked at Grivel's line too and it looks like all their tools are heavier, so I am back to Petzl (no BD for me).

 

drC

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The Quark is a better tool, but sometimes you need a worse tool.. its kind of like asking if a rock shoe is better than a mountaineering boot.

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Well, for the usage I describe, a mountaineering boot would definitely be better. But does that mean the Aztar would make the alpine climber happier than the Quark. I am only buying one kind of tool to start, it's got to cover everything for a couple years.

 

drC

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So all the people who rave about using the Quark for alpine are just using overkill/inadapted tools? (Something pretty common: buy the most expensive---and heavy in this case---one and then say it's great for everything; happens in all fields.)

 

drC

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Dru has a good point. I am using Aztars now and REALLY like them. They probably aren't as good for waterfalls and such, but they suit me just fine for steep alpine. thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

 

Sidebar: after a couple (well several) beers the other night I climbed the side of my house with them! Tough to explain to sober non-climbers, but what the hell. bigdrink.gifbigdrink.gif

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i have quarks. i like my quarks so much i use them in the alpine. aside from the android leashes detaching, they have not let me down in the alpine. if you didn't use androids, this would not be a problem.

 

conversely, Stemalot has aztars and is often bitching about them when we ice climb. but never in the alpine.

 

i don't know if that helps or not, but i'd prefer the quarks if i had the choice.

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Good point, but if cost is an issue, though he didn't specifically say so, Aztars are $35 ($70 for 2) less.

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Don't worry about cost. For the difference, I'd rather make the right choice. I've been bitten a few times by not spending the extra $50 on something that I ended up keeping for years. It's cheaper to pay $35 more than ditch/sell the thing and spring for the other one altogether.

 

Dru, why is Stemalot bitching about the Aztars on ice climbs? (Leashes are easy to swap out, I think one can put the Freelock on the Quarks just like you can put the detachable leash on the Aztar?)

 

drC

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My experiences with aztars:

 

- lighter weight. this is good if you're humping them in on some godawful approach. not quite so good if the ice is cold, brittle and hard.

 

- pick teeth not beveled. this makes them harder to clean out of the ice, but I guess for steep neve or self-arrest maybe this is a good thing, to resist shearing ? or is it simply that the tool is cheaper and you get beveling for extra $ ? In any case, a file can take care of this.

 

- head configuration fixed; can't change out hammer for adze, and vise versa.

 

My experiences with quarks:

 

- easier to stack tools because of the head shape.

- hook extremely well.

- beveled teeth; easier to clean out of the ice.

- heavier.

- can switch out adze for hammer, etc.

 

Granted I haven't done any dry-tooling, mixed, picket-pounding, or pin-hammering with either of them.

 

I'm more inclined to use the aztars on less vertical ice, maybe up to WI3+, and in softer conditions. Outside of that and I'll be swinging the quarks. I like Petzl stuff, so sue me.

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Don't worry about cost. For the difference, I'd rather make the right choice. I've been bitten a few times by not spending the extra $50 on something that I ended up keeping for years. It's cheaper to pay $35 more than ditch/sell the thing and spring for the other one altogether.

 

Dru, why is Stemalot bitching about the Aztars on ice climbs? (Leashes are easy to swap out, I think one can put the Freelock on the Quarks just like you can put the detachable leash on the Aztar?)

 

drC

 

once you use aztars on ice, you will find out they suck. this is my rock slipper and mountain boot analogy.

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So: Aztar will be nice in alpine but suck on ice, but Quark will rock on everything ('xcept for weight and $ factors)? Is that what you're saying, Dru? (I found a few posts on a French alpinism site asking Quark vs Aztar and Quark was the recommendation too, and one where someone with Quarks said they were a bitch to use in AD couloirs, or 70 degrees alpine; may be referring to the inability to push the shaft in hard snow?)

 

drC

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Quarks climb everything well. their only disadvantages in alpine situations are:

 

1. the knob on the bottom of the shaft interferes with shaft-plunging in snow. this is not an issue in softer snow, but can be a serious impediment in firm snow. if it's firm enough to resist the shaft, however, it's usually firm enuf to hold the pick - just swing it instead of plunging it...

 

2. related to this comment, the thinner pick is brilliant in ice, but touchy in neve. think about getting a pair of the thicker 4mm picks for alpine use - they give much better resistance to pulling thru snow/soft ice.

(this puts u in the same camp as the Aztars, but a touch of filing eases extraction)

 

weight is a non-issue: is see 15grams difference in the published wts.

 

swing 'em both and you'll end up with Quarks - the balance is better, and the metallic vibration that you feel when the Aztar "hits" just isn't there with the Quark.

 

btw, my "dream" tools for alpine are my old Quasars. i slipped in the 4mm picks, filed 'em a touch to ease placement and extraction, ground off most of the bulges at the bottom of the shafts for plunging, and hack-sawed and filed the "hump" off the back end of the picks to make the head comfy to hold. superb!

 

p.s. it isn't that Aztars "suck" at anything - they just were put together with different design priorities.

 

cheers,

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...the metallic vibration that you feel when the Aztar "hits" just isn't there with the Quark.

Interesting.... my first set of tools were Pulsars, and they had a noticeable vibration as well.

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I thought the Axars were a better tool than the Aztar and don't know why they gave up on them, but then again you'll always find someone longing for the (not so) ol days.

 

Currently: BD RAGE

Awesome tool for many situations.

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I have the Quarks and now use them for everything, even though I have "old" strait shafted tools. I agree w/ Don, I just put the pick in when I can't plunge the shaft. I've done late Fall to Winter to Spring routes with my Quarks now and have not even bothered to take off the pinky rest. I love 'em.

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Currently: BD RAGE

Awesome tool for many situations.

 

Heavy, clumsy grip, weird balance when swinging. thumbs_down.gif

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I have a pair of Quarks and have used them on alpine routes. I used pinky rests and clipper leashes. The steeper the route the better a Quark will perform. If you're doing relatively straightforward alpine routes in the PNW (Triple Couloirs etc) you probably aren't going to see of a much difference.

 

In addition to comments above you might also want to consider the durability of the Quark and Adzar. The pinky rest and grip don't like a lot of abuse, C-M tell you specifically not to use the shaft to clear balled up crampons etc.

 

I personally didn't like the feel of the Adzar. Its slightly shorter than the Quark and the pick angle is different which for me gave a weird swing. But that's a personal thing. Don't let anyone else's raves and rants about how a tool swings make any decisions for you.

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it seems to me that the issue with the aztars isn not that they "suck" at anything, but just that they're not different enough from the quarks to justify their existence. my opintion is that the quark is still the best "full featured" tool on the market, and as don says, it really doesn't weight much more. if i owned both, i'd be hard pressed to think of a situation where i'd take the regular aztars instead of my quarks.

 

i solved my consumption dilemma by buying a pair of aztarEX tools for alpine climbing, the stripped-down version of the aztar. the EX tools are far enough removed that they clearly serve a different niche and are much lighter than the quarks.

 

ridgeline, I loved my axars (they were my only tools from 2000-2004), but finally got tired of all the bumps on the head when using as an axe. the final straw for me was down-frontpointing 2,500' of 45 deg. neve on the descent from joffre, i couldn't ride by bike for a week because of the bruises on my palms. (i know, don solves this problem by grinding down the top of the pick, but i seems like a pain to me every time i want to change picks).

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I have an acquaintance who is one of those high-profile "professional climbers"; he uses Quarks for everything from the Himalaya to the Ouray Ice Park.

 

He claims the picks will bend, but not break (he was cranking on the pick in a rock crack at the time).

 

How much truth to this?

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I broke the tip off one of mine, but one break in 5 years isn't bad.

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Yeah, his statement seemed a bit of hyperbole to me...

 

...it would seem the metal would be too soft and easy to dull if it were so pliable.

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FWIW, i have been using CM tools for over 15 years and have never broken a pick or had a pick come loose while on a climb. i've bent them by torquing in cracks, smooshed the nose by repeatedly bashing them into rocks, shortened them into unusability by repeated sharpening, upgraded to newer tooth designs, etc. but never actually snapped one. bigdrink.gif to CM pick design engineers!

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Thanks for the answers, and Don's info re: vibrating.

 

The weight difference between the Aztar (590 g) and the Quark (645 g) is 55 g per tool, i.e. ~4 oz for the pair; you can drop it to 33 g by using a Freelock leash instead of the Clipper for alpine (~2 oz more then for the pair). This is according to the weights in Petzl's tool brochures. I can't find that 15 g difference Don mentions (I guess 33 isn't that bad, but that's buying another 2 leashes).

 

The Aztarex is 500 g, and once you add a Freelock leash, you're looking at 540 g. So all these tools in Petzl's line are basically around 50 g from each next fancy tool.

 

I borrowed an Aztar M (a single tool following a miscommunication with the loaner of said tool) for the week-end, and will play with it on Baker on alpine stuff.

 

drC

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