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pope

A Serious Question

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Listen, I've never tried to discuss anything very serious before, but I'm about to purchase a new axe, and I thought I should solicit some expert opinions:

SHOULD I GO WITH POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE CLEARANCE ON THE NEW ICE AXE?

[This message has been edited by pope (edited 05-24-2001).]

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Hey "pope"! Looking for a new ice axe? Why don't you just use the one you "borrowed" from me when I kicked you out of my apartment after you tried to pick up on my aunt? Well you obviously need some help!

First, learn to self-arrest. Didn't the Mountaineers teach you that when you took their basic course?

RE: positive or negative clearance on an ice axe: (not: positive or negative or clearance!), I can only offer the advice of the great Fred Beckey. Several years ago (before I ever ran into your miserable butt), myself and several others were enjoying some pizza with Fred after one of his amazing fast-paced slide-shows. We were all in awe (and I will save my awe for the likes of Fred) and one character named Dave, thinking that he was in the presence of the mountaineering messiah, nervously blurted out his big mysterious question to Mighty Fred. "Mr. Beckey", he stuttered, "wwhhhhaaaaaa...wwwhhhaaadddya think? Positive or negative clearance on an ice axe?" Fred, who was sucking down a huge bucket of coffee replied something like the following without even flinching:

"Well you see, you can go to REI or someplace and buy one of those things and they're great on snow, a real life-saver. Find one you like and buy it."

Dave was expecting more and was a bit flabbergasted at Fred's simple truth. He then wanted to get "The Word" on boots. "What kind of boots do YOU wear, Fred?" Fred's response was something like, "You know, you go to the store and you buy them, and some of them are pretty good, and they last awhile and when they wear out, you go get some new ones."

Right on, Fred!!! True story! And what I learned was:

- Fred doesn't care as long as it works;

- most of this stuff does work.

I don't think anyone has really cared all that much about this topic since Larry Penberthy promoted the "Thunderbird", but then again......

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Hey Imabone,

Quit picking on girls. If Donna wants to dazzle me with her opinions (and did I mention she's HOT?), what's the problem?

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Look Pope, its lambone not Imabone. Go flirt somewhere else, like church! Or be a real man and get her phone number.

[This message has been edited by lambone (edited 05-25-2001).]

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Pope- What do you mean by positive and negative clearance, are you talking about the shaft? Are you looking for a mountaineering axe or an ice climbing axe? Maybe I'm just an idiot (feel free NOT to comment on that one).

If you are looking for a general mountaineering axe I suggest finding one where the shaft is flush with the blade on top. Most of the Grivel axes are like this. Most standard axes (Like the REI Mountie axe which I’m guilt of owning) have the blade protruding on top, which can make your hand sore if you are weighting on it a lot. Having the shaft flush translates into a little more comfort with no loss in strength (I think). I'm not sure why all axes aren't like this. I just bought a Grivel Pamir, it's a nice compromise between strength and weight. I considered an Air Tech but I'm a fat boy and questioned its strength when in dire needs.

This is my unexpert opinion by the way.

 

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Jon,

I understood "clearance" to be the angle defined by the shaft and the chisel edge of the pick. Neutral clearance would be when these two "lines" are parallel. An example of negative clearance is when the chisel edge of the pick is perpendicular to the end of the pick (if you were to hold the shaft parallel to a table top, the upper corner of the chisel edge would contact the table, but the entire chisel edge of a "neutral" axe would contact the table face).

Jon, the sprayers of cascadeclimbers.com would like to extend their gratitude for Thursday night's reconfiguration! I'll see if I can get Donna to deliver fellatio.

[This message has been edited by pope (edited 05-25-2001).]

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Pope,

I have a 50 cm North Wall hammer that I use with my axe for moderate alpine snow/ice routes. The axe came with a positive clearance pick, the hammer a negative. Pretty quickly I figured out that the positive clearance pick was superior in every regard and modified the hammer's pick accordingly. If I was in the market for a new axe, I would definitely buy the Grivel Air Racing Tech from Barrabes.

 

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Daniel,

Thanks for the advice. I've read mountaineering manuals which discuss this topic, but I was curious if local climbers had any opinions. By the way, what convinced you that positive clearance is superior in every way?

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E,

Postive/negative clearance....pleeeeaaaazzzeeee

I'm pretty sure as you're rag dolling down the hill at mach speed you won't really give it much thought either way.

Donna Top Rope is a name dropper/worshipper isn't she/he???

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Hey Imabone:

I'll come and go as I please until the moderator kicks me off. And "Pope" doesn't need your advice on how to pick up girls. He's great with such dazzling one-liners as:

"I'm on fire, baby, can I run through your sprinkler?" or, "Hey, weren't you Miss Puyallup last year?" or perhaps his classiest, "If you were a booger, I'd pick you first." Gosh! Why did I have anything to do with that guy!!! We should be asking about positive or negative clearance on "Pope", with the emphasis on "clearance"!

"E": You don't think Fred Beckey's opinion is worth listening too? He's got more mountaineering experience and wisdom than probably the majority of this board's members combined! If having respect for such pioneers as Fred is "hero-worshipping", than count me as guilty. In a world where everyone thinks they're a "big-shot", the old-timers are a different breed and have a tremendous amount to offer, even if they don't "backstep and then dyno to the heinous mono-doigt on a truly sick sketchfest!!"

- Donna

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Donna Top Rope,

Don't get your panties all bunched up girl. No one was dissin' anyone or doubting the wisdom of the legend. But come on--- *anyone* can reach the same conclusions if they spend enough time doing the things they want.

I don't need Fred's advice to figure out that gear mostly works and that there is alot of marketing hype behind it. Buying gear is somewhat commonsense. And YES! I LOVE REI and the liberal return policy while it provides the greatest return on people watching.

On a side note...I kind of secretly get a real kick out of seeing basic mountaineers classes in the mountains. It's like watching planet of the apes or something with a somewhat doomed ending in progress.

I did enjoy your relating this story. Thanks! Oh, and I love pulling on mono digit super slick slopers backstepped into the figure 4 leglock rest step one arm flailing position. But only on TR though....

Incidentally...Pope is E. I am Z...

Spray hard!

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Donna,

I hope you don't feel pressured out of this site. I love all the different perspectives that all of the different personalities bring to this site. When I see a post by you I definitely read it. I may not agree with all of it but so what. Everybody's got an opinion/asshole, myself included. All that plus Pope says you're really hot. Got any pics? :-) Just kiddin'. Keep shakin' the basket sweetheart.

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Donna I really think you are just a self righteous chick with perhaps a nice ass. So what dime a dozen if you ask me tongue.gif

SO how many times did you do Fred?? shocked.gif

 

: )~

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i would agree with fred's statment, that all gear will work. but the celebration of false idols is pretty annoying. becky's achievments are great, but it does not change the way or what i climb and that goes for any person out there. i just want to enjoy myself and try to concentrate on what or how someone did something does not matter. i climb with good ethics and that is all that matters to me.

everyone has an opinion and is free to share it, but lets get of the hype train!

i would recommed a grivel air race and i am a fat boy, too. i just don't plan on boot/axe belaying my pickup, so the overkill on stength and weight shuold be the important decision. buy what you like!

 

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If Pope needs advice on his pick he should get Donna to give his a good polish- Pope, Chouinard has it right, 5-10 degrees Negative clearance on a piolet pick. Or are you referring to "recurved" picks for aggressive front pointing and waterfall /mixed use? Most axes don't have the correct clearance so you'll just adjust it with a file, don't use the grinder wheel or you'll wreck the temper.

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In addition to being thought ineffective for most ice climbing (I bet it would hook nicely in thin ice), Scott noted that the positive pick angle has been said too aggressive for a self arrest on a hard surface (in fact, many years ago MSR was recommending a modification, the filing of a tiny notch out of the bottom tip of the pick, to reduce the tendency for it to grab too hard in a self arrest).

Some of the discussion in this posting has focused on weight and strength of axes. Strength may be less of an issue than you might think -- I have never heard of a metal handled axe breaking or even bending, though I'm sure it could happen. However, the weight issue cuts both ways. First of all, the spike material may be a consideration if you use your spike in the ice while climbing French style (Chouinard called this Piolet something-or-other). An aluminum spike will dull very fast, especially if you use the axe like a cane when on rock or a trail. Also, you should realize that an extremely light axe will not penetrate well when swung at ice or even firm neve snow, but if you plan to use it mostly on non-technical climbs and glaciated approaches to rock routes, the lighter the better.

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To throw in some more digressionary info, a piolet IS an axe; your carry an axe in various positions, piolet canne, like a cane, piolet panne, like a finger, piolet ramasse, like a railing (if i'm rembering this correctly.) French technique is all styles of walking on ice/snow without front pointing. I don't believe front points made it onto crampons until the 1930's so "french technique" reflects that gear restriction on climbing.

[This message has been edited by Beck (edited 05-26-2001).]

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From where this thread has gone, I am off topic here, but anyway...

Chouinard originally coughed up the idea that the negative was better than the positive for arresting on really hard surfaces (ice and frozen-crusted snow.) His rationale was that the negative wouldn't bite so quickly and therefore possibly wrench the axe out of your hands during an arrest.

For details, see his treatise in "Climbing Ice"

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Gee wiz, I didn't expect this enormous response. I'm a little overwhelmed. Let me tell you, I intended to solicit the opinions of experts and I am NOT disappointed. For those of you who thought this was a silly question, I hope that reading this post has changed your mind. Something as seemingly insignificant as clearance on your pick might be the difference between tagging the summit or calling Big Lou to your rescue.

Also, for those who (as Donna is) are concerned about the "clearance of Pope's pick", let's just say it's so big, I've got to buy skis in threes. It's so big, it makes its own weather. It's so big, its sitting in three time zones. It's so big, it's a candidate for national park status. It's so big, it's got stairs and an elevator. It's so....

p.s. Eckenstein put the points up front.

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Pope- I also have a serious question or two. Do you have a split personality? Is "Donna" actually you becoming more familiar with your feminine side? I have followed your pointless babble with this "Donna" and it sure seems to me that your in the midst of a serious identity crisis. Are you confused? Maybe you should take some time off from "spackling" this occasionaly useful site and seek some profesional help. Or perhaps you might consider pitching your keyboard out the window and actually go climb something, you may discover it can actually be fun. (although I doubt that "fun" ever shows itself on your outings) Spray away oh spacklemaster!

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Mr. Slappy, I'm sorry it's so hard for you to believe that I run with a hotty like Donna. Some guys gotta fight so hard just for some love, but as for me, I think it's a breeze. Thanks for the advice...you're one of these serious types who thinks he's going to make it in the record books, who thinks he's pushing the envelope. Here's my question for you then: What are you doing typing on your lap-top on such a splendid day? I'll tell you what...you're spraying unsolicited advice all over this horseshit bulletin board in the fruitless attempt to be clever. Guess what: you're not clever. You want to be clever but you don't know how, so you question the entertainment value of my spray. Hey you big Tartuffe: get out and climb something. BTW, Donna's quite real and quite HOT! Just ask Hemlock.

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Pope- Oh how wrong you are! I am not nearly as serious as you believe. I just returned last night from a two day outing to repack, grab a new partner (HOTTER than any "top shelfer/stepper", whatever, you share company with) and am headed back out for the next 7 days. And you?? Put your vinyl "Hotty" back in her box and get out! Bye-Bye!

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Climbing seven days with a girl? Dude, why punish yourself? Why subject yourself to that kind of danger? Isn't climbing hazardous enough without trusting a girl's belay?

But seriously, I'm jealous. I got out for five days back in February, but these days I'm a little busier than I used to be. Have fun, be safe, take some photos (especially photos of that hotty!).

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