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Pitons

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I know I am going to get slammed for asking this question but what the heck. For mixed winter alpine climbs what kind of pitons if any do you use most? Or now days nuts and hexes replace pins. I don't see cams working at all with snow and ice in cracks.

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Tricams work in most cracks with snow or ice. thumbs_up.gif

 

I carry a couple of knifeblades/LA, a DMM Bulldog and a baby angle.

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Great question.

My two cents for winter/ mixed

If you use a cam, go with a cam that has teeth (like Wild country friends). Also the bigger sizes are better. I've fallen on big cams though on mixed and had em' pull.

I personally don't care for Tri-cams, but many good climbers like them.

Pins and pounded in stoppers rule.

LA's are a great size but they are so heavy for alpine routes. Buy a couple of Knifeblades and a couple of angles and you are good to go!

Happy trails

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2 long thin KBs

1 #3 LA

1 #4 LA (or equivalent shallow angle or Z pin)

2 1/2 angles

2 5/8 angles*

1 3/4 angle*

1/2 set of stoppers (emphasis on mid-range size)

6 cams from 1 - 3"

2 large hexs (or equivalent cams)

screws, spectar?

runners, screamers

ballpark no more than 50 biners (lockers, etc etc) total for the team

 

*for granite routes don't bother w/ angles larger than 5/8"

*for limestone routes don't bother w/ angles larger than 3/4"

 

disclaimer: mileage will vary; adjust as route and/or individual dictate

 

Sean Issac, Will Gadd, and Mark Twight all offer rack recommendations in their respective book. Extreme alpinism is required reading for winter alpine IMO.

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Blades and LA are what I have used most often in the past. Ocasionally baby angles. Almost any place you can get a full size angle in you will most like be able to find gear placements nearby, so I never carry them with me.

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I typically go with a half-dozen or so pegs ranging from knifeblades to standard (3/4) angle, then hexes for larger cracks. I haven't had trouble with cams, and I sometimes throw in a few. The one off-beat item(s) that accompanies EVERY winter alpine outing is one or two wart-hogs. These pound-in-screw-out ice-pitons can also be used as rock-pegs (work in cracks that would accept a baby angle or half-inch piece), and are the hot ticket for frozen turf.

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Why do you think you will get slammed? Its not like you asked about climbing Infinite Bliss or something like that.

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I definitely carry a couple of cams. You have to evaluate every placement, but I often find good cam placements. Not too many though, unless you like to carry extra weight for "training".

 

A good light alpine mixed rack might include 0-6 screws, 0-4 pickets, 6-12 nuts (emphasizing middle sizes), 2-6 cams (emphasizing middle sizes, depending on route), a few tricams, and YES a half dozen or so pins. As others have said, emphasize knifeblades/bugaboos with a couple of small angles and avoid Lost ARrows (heavy).

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Getting slammed was reference to another post where I asked some questions about a route. Extreme alpinism is a great book, full of info and has changed the way I climb. he does give info on a winter/mixed rack but I thought I would see what the "locals" carry. Thanks for the info, has been a great help.

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What do you use pickets for? I have never or almost never used one in the Pacific NW.

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What do you use pickets for? I have never or almost never used one in the Pacific NW.
Indeed, flukes work much better.

 

Also, don't forget lots of long slings for tying off trees.

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I guess I would use them for steep snow slopes above the more technical terrain and/or for crevasse rescue purposes. I remember placing some on the Kautz route and my partner placed one or two on the upper part of Triple Couloirs. They can definitely be useful given the right conditions. For more technical applications, leave 'em home.

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I have played around with flukes and so far have not been impressed. If you know how to place the picket you can get a bomber placement. If you can't either you should not be up there or you need other equipment like screws. But with that said I will get more chances to play with them AGAIN this year helping out with climbing classes.

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I'm not saying pickets are never usefull, but in my experience the hard snice where they can be bomber is pretty rare in the NW and in general snow slopes lacking sufficient rock anchors where I want some kind of belay do not get so steep that I find much need for one. I've climbed plenty of steep snow slopes where you wouldn't want to fall because they are perched over a cliff or crevasse, but I just have not found many situations where a picket would really help - around here.

 

I've used them in Alaska and New Zealand, but I think the only time I've ever used a picket in the NW was when setting fixed ropes for large groups of beginners on a snow climb - and I've generally used them in the "deadman" configuration when doing this and looked for rock anchors where they were available. And this has always been in the summer, not the winter.

 

I've carried them around some times, but rarely find a good use for one other than as a tent stake.

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I have played around with flukes and so far have not been impressed. If you know how to place the picket you can get a bomber placement. If you can't either you should not be up there or you need other equipment like screws. But with that said I will get more chances to play with them AGAIN this year helping out with climbing classes.
In winter conditions, pickets are absolutely useless in most situations. I can understand why people don't like deadman anchors. They are a pain in the ass to carry with their kinky wires and all. Ketch has been experimenting with use of high tech Vectran cord in place of steel wire that may make deadman anchors much more pleasant to carry and store, not to mention lighter.

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My understanding of flukes is that they are designed to dive deeper when loaded. The essential problem with this is that they can therefore glance off a buried object, like a rock, or even a hard layer of snow/ice This can upset the integrity of the placement. Pickets buried as a deadman take longer to place, but they are ultimately immobile and can be extremely strong. I have never placed a picket vertically which I felt would hold a severe load. (As well there always seems to be at least one story every year of a team ripping a picket, usually on Hood, when a member or two of the party slips.) Any snow hard enough would probably cause you to mangle the end driving it in. Ultimately though it seems like trading speed for safety, and in the end nothing takes the place of skillful reading of the snow and the ability to climb safely and confidently without slipping/falling.

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Pickets can be bomber in hardened snow/ice and, yes, in these conditions you DO mangle the end when hammering them in - though the hammer end and not the front end. Some come with harder metal wrapped around the hammer end. But I have only encountered this kind of snow surface a very small handful of times in thirty years of Cascade climbing.

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My understanding of flukes is that they are designed to dive deeper when loaded. The essential problem with this is that they can therefore glance off a buried object, like a rock, or even a hard layer of snow/ice This can upset the integrity of the placement. Pickets buried as a deadman take longer to place, but they are ultimately immobile and can be extremely strong. I have never placed a picket vertically which I felt would hold a severe load. (As well there always seems to be at least one story every year of a team ripping a picket, usually on Hood, when a member or two of the party slips.) Any snow hard enough would probably cause you to mangle the end driving it in. Ultimately though it seems like trading speed for safety, and in the end nothing takes the place of skillful reading of the snow and the ability to climb safely and confidently without slipping/falling.
Some flukes are designed to dive, while others are not. The ones that are not designed to dive must be set at the correct angle by you. The ability to dive can be a plus or it can be a minus, depending on how you look at it.

 

If the surface has a crust over a soft layer, you have a situation where one could fall and slide if the slope is steep enough. Such a surface would not take a picket or an ordinary deadman because there is no firm snow within reach of the surface. A diving fluke can move until it digs deep enough to find firm snow.

 

So when you trot out the well-worn argument about the fluke diving and running into a rock or ice layer you need to weigh that in terms of the alternative, which is no pro at all.

 

I agree with you that sometimes, it is best not to place pro at all and rely on your skills to not fall.

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The New Zealand Mountain Guides Association and the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council published a study several years ago to help determin whether current snow anchor practices being used in NZ were adequate. Their findings are in the following report linked below.

It is worth pointing out that they specify in their conclusions several things.

1)There are many snowtakes currently in use that would not be strong enough to handle the upper limits of the loads that they could be placed under

2)Although snow anchors do not often come under the upper limits of load that they could be subjected to (6kn-10kn, many people are coming very close to the failure limits of their snow anchors without realizing it.

3)To increase the safety of the placement: increase the snow strength if possible, get the anchors as deep as possible, and pull from the middle

 

Check it out for yourself. It is worth reading.

http://www.alpineclub.org.nz/documents/activities/instruction/snow%20anchor%20report.pdf

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I've already read some of Al Fortini's reports. This is what led me to rig my Coyote pickets with cable to the mid point, for use in the "vertical deadman" configuration.

 

If the snow is soft enough to require a center attachment, the cable will cut itself through the snow. If the snow is too hard for the cable to cut, it's not needed, and the picket is used in the traditional fashion with a surface clip.

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Mount Cook is one place where I have found a picket to make a pretty good anchor. I think it is because the storm cycle is rapid - something like 100 storms a year, and much more consistent throughout the year than here - and that while it is generally colder than it is here in the summer (at the upper levels on the mountain, anyway), they get wet storms throughout the year. When I was there for a couple of summer climbs, higher up on the mountain it was firm snice on all aspects, with good fat water ice on some of the rocks. I have never encountered such conditions in WA and I'd be a little cautious about assuming field testing in New Zealand was directly applicable here.

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