Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
Dane

Break a pick?

Recommended Posts

In the years I've ice climbed I have to admit I have never broken a pick. My wife tells me I am a gentle guy :)

 

I have however broken tools. Snapped a head off one while soloing grade 4 with no second tool. Which scared the shit out of me. Bent and straightened more picks than I care to count all the way back to Chouinard Piolets, Terrodactyls and Roosters. More recently I have done the same on modern Grivel and Petzl tools while using our other tools as the hammer and anvil. I had become satisfied with carrying a full size spare tool on everything but the "easiest" road side crags, until this winter anyway.

 

Hadn't climbed seriously in a while and never thought to bother with a spare, third matching tool...too much money. (I'd like a "matching" tool these days since there are so many options.) But wanting to climb hard again I once more started soloing, wanting to get my chit squared away and that thought (carrying a spare did come up) ;)

 

So I know my personal experience and that of the guys I have discussed the topic with.

 

Let's talk about what tools/picks you have actually seen broken or broken yourself? Stories only if the source was truly credible to you

 

Secondly, for anyone who has broken a pick...could you or did you "save" it by reshaping the shorter pick with a file.

 

My thought is most broken picks snap one or two teeth in and could be reshaped easily in route and reused on even difficult ice.

 

Thoughts? Experiences? And thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I saw a guy* break a BD Rage at Haffner about five years ago. It snapped off about half way down the shaft. he promptly finished soloing his route (the WI3/4 on the left) with one tool.

 

*turns out that guy was Ian Welsted.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went for years without breaking anything, then snapped perhaps 8 Simonds (Piranha and Naja) PRE-FORGING PROCESS. Usually in very cold weather or the day after climbing such, or once in very, very hard ice. All of these breakages occurred following a change in Simond's design.

 

I've broken one BD pick in a short career of using such tools. Add two friends using the same - 10 picks broken in one season.

Perhaps 2002?

 

I've also badly bent the tips of two BDs (very thin ice, darkness, new route, soloing)(early 90s). I finished using old Simonds, munching and chipping chunks out of the tips, but the picks remained quite functional.

 

Of the picks I've seen snap, all have gone at near placement depth, so about 2 inches. Of those I've snapped, I've been able to lead or solo to the top of the pitch or down-climb. The gorked pick has still seemed like a better option than using the relatively useless third tool that I carried until recently.

 

I've been with people who've bent Grivel Evolution picks beyond functionality.

 

Since I switched to tools using forged picks (2004)(Simonds), durability has been perfect with no breaking or bending. It's a real confidence booster when running it out or traveling alone.

 

Cheers,

 

GB

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've broken one BD pick in a short career of using such tools. Add two friends using the same - 10 picks broken in one season.

Perhaps 2002?

 

Sounds about right. In the 2003 winter, I broke 5 BD picks that I had bought all at the same time the previous year. Most of them broke in relatively soft ice, after no more than 3 days of use, and I think 2 of them broke on the first day of use. Every single one broke about 1 inch from the point. Thankfully, none broke while I was in a strenuous or committing position on the climbs; although one broke while I was soloing the easy lower section of Cascade Falls, I was able to continue climbing with the short pick until reaching the ledge below the steeper step.

 

That same winter I talked with a guy who worked in Valhalla in Canmore who said he had a whole pile of broken BD picks, and eventually I started meeting others with similar tales during this period. I think there was a manufacturing glitch in a batch made during 2002. This concern caused me to want to take at least one spare with me everywhere I went for another year or so. It was the "Stinger" picks with the old point on top which BD has since modified to be flush with the tool (and it's now called the Titan pick). I haven't broken one since that year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I broke 4 Grivel evolution picks in 4 years and bent another. Most broke about 3/4" from the tip. Odd, since I climb maybe 10 days a year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mutual friend of powderhound and I proceeded to break two BD picks in 2 days in Cody this winter... he was/is a poor college student so he climbed on a quark in one hand and an old BD viper in the other.

 

The second one that broke was a beat up mixed pick he borrowed from Mulkey so it wasn't like it was brand new... still we couldnt help but laugh that he broke 2 in 2 days. Both broke ~1 inch from the tip

 

IMO how people clean the tool after placement is a big factor on how many picks they break... I've seen a lot of "side to side" motion.

 

I have bent a few BD and Petzl picks but never broke one (knock on wood).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Petzl uses a more ductile steel than BD. BD picks stay sharp a little longer, but break easier. Petzl picks also hold slightly better when hooking rock edges.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Let's talk about what tools/picks you have actually seen broken or broken yourself? Stories only if the source was truly credible to you

I've broken one BD pick:

1688broken.jpg

 

This happened as I was starting to second the crux pitch of Night'N'Gale. Luckily, the ice was quite soft, so with some extra effort in my swings, I was able to bash my way up. If the ice had been cold and brittle it would have been a much bigger PITA.

 

Secondly, for anyone who has broken a pick...could you or did you "save" it by reshaping the shorter pick with a file.

 

My thought is most broken picks snap one or two teeth in and could be reshaped easily in route and reused on even difficult ice.

In this case, more than an inch of the pick broke off so it wasn't worth trying to save it. When I showed it to one of the mechanical engineers I work with, he commented that based on the shape of the fracture, it was likely caused by a hairline crack on the underside of the pick which got progressively worse every time the pick was removed, due to the up and down leverage. Eventually, the crack made it about half way through the pick, at which point it completely failed.

 

Thinking back, the pick broke in 2004, but it was probably bought in 02 or 03. The original crack could have happened shortly after I bought it, but since I was only getting out a few times a season, it took awhile to fail.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Both Petzl and BD use 4340 Ni Cr Mo alloys for their picks, but differences in hardening/tempering/design between the two can produce varying mechanical properties and failure modes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Both Petzl and BD use 4340 Ni Cr Mo alloys for their picks, but differences in hardening/tempering/design between the two can produce varying mechanical properties and failure modes.

 

Chrome moly steel can be had in many forms. It is not all the same. The biggest differences however in picks is the use of CNC plate cutting techniques on the chrome moly and then heat treated to spec or chrome moly hot forgings, heat treated to spec and then hand finished.

 

This is a good short course in steel and manufacturing.

http://www.grivelnorthamerica.com/technology.php?gid=1

 

Easy to guess the one company of the top three tool makers who doesn't use forged picks.

 

There is a small amount of difference in the stress risers incorporated into each company's pick by tooth design. The two design/manufacturing do add up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Anker claimed Charlet picks don't break.

 

I've seen them filed past recognition and still working but never broken.

 

Anyone ever seen a broken a Petzl/Charlet Moser pick?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went 5 seasons with the original picks on my Vipers, then towards the end of last season I broke 1 pick just starting out on WI4 lead so I just down climbed back to the belay. Since the picks were that old I didn't think anything of it and replaced both picks. 2 weeks later will in the middle of a WI4 lead on Polar Circus I break one of the new picks. I finished the lead but had to swing like hell to get good sticks, and my spare pick was 2 pitches below where we dropped our packs, so had to climb 2 more pitches with a broken pick. That was the last climb I did that season.

 

Then the first day out this season at Bow falls I broke both picks in ONE pitch. For those of you keeping count thats 4 picks in 4 climbs, as I got 1 day in in between the first and second picks breaking. I am starting to think that this could get expensive, so I emailed BD and told them the story and to see if anything has been changed with the picks. They reply with a bunch of BS about functionality vs durability and that nothing has changed in the design or metal composition. I wonder if this has anything to do with some of their gear now being manufactured in china(not sure if their picks are or not).

 

All these picks except for the first one were bought at the end of last season, I replaced the ones that broke this season with new ones bought this season and have climbed all year on them with no problems yet, which leads me to believe they had a bad batch of them out last year.

Edited by Budweiser

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've broken two of the BD Laser picks, both at the same place about an inch from the tip; 4th tooth maybe. Both times soft ice, relatively warm temps. Fortunately TR'd both times, once at Ouray and once following Bow Falls.

 

It looks like the breaks happen where the tooth depth changes. I remember seeing a collection of busted BD picks at one of the shops in Canada (Mountain MAgic, probably, they all snapped at the same place.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Both Petzl and BD use 4340 Ni Cr Mo alloys for their picks, but differences in hardening/tempering/design between the two can produce varying mechanical properties and failure modes.

 

Chrome moly steel can be had in many forms. It is not all the same. The biggest differences however in picks is the use of CNC plate cutting techniques on the chrome moly and then heat treated to spec or chrome moly hot forgings, heat treated to spec and then hand finished.

 

This is a good short course in steel and manufacturing.

http://www.grivelnorthamerica.com/technology.php?gid=1

 

Easy to guess the one company of the top three tool makers who doesn't use forged picks.

 

There is a small amount of difference in the stress risers incorporated into each company's pick by tooth design. The two design/manufacturing do add up.

 

All three makers 'forge' their picks. Grivel hot forges (die forms the steel when hot) while Petzl and BD cold forge (die form cold, heat to temper afterwards). None of the companies use CNC. They stamp in the logo and other surface feathers, form the edges, and cut out the part in one go with a die. (Look for a little conventional 'clock face' with an arrow pointing to the die number...it's stamped into the pick as well). CNC would be too slow and expensive.

 

Either process can be tuned to produce similar mechanical properties, so, while Grivel chooses to showcase hot forging as a selling point, it's more hype than anything else. Grivel's hot forging process can more readily produce more complex shapes, thus allowing more freedom in designing in weight distribution, but all three produce tools that are nicely weighted, and, ironically, Grivel's tools are typically heavier than then comparable BD or Petzl models. I've also noticed that with some Grivel axes they seem to have neglected much of the extra finish work required after hot forging (presumably to save money, since their process is inherently more expensive), producing an end product with surface irregularities than can lead to unwanted stress concentrations and crack formation. Whether or not this has actually been a problem with their tools, I don't know.

 

In any case, the proof is in the field performance.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've broken two of the BD Laser picks, both at the same place about an inch from the tip; 4th tooth maybe. Both times soft ice, relatively warm temps. Fortunately TR'd both times, once at Ouray and once following Bow Falls.

 

It looks like the breaks happen where the tooth depth changes. I remember seeing a collection of busted BD picks at one of the shops in Canada (Mountain MAgic, probably, they all snapped at the same place.

 

Interesting. Some possible root causes:

 

1) An irregularity in the die at that particular tooth produces too tight a radius and thus, a stress concentration.

 

2) All the teeth inner radii are too tight, and that tooth just happens to be the point of maximum stress.

 

3) The overall geometry of the tool's cross section is too small to handle the maximum stress at that particular tooth.

 

4) Either the cold forging or heat treatment process produce a weakness in the steel's crystalline structure at that tooth.

 

5) As mentioned above, a shitty lot of product (bad steel, poorly tuned manufacturing process, etc)

 

Any combination of the above.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing that should be noted: properly designed steel parts can theoretically have an infinite life under cyclic loading. (the same is not true of aluminum and some other materials). You should expect that a properly cared for pick used only in ice, unless you weight 300 lbs or something, should never break.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing that should be noted: properly designed steel parts can theoretically have an infinite life under cyclic loading. (the same is not true of aluminum and some other materials). You should expect that a properly cared for pick used only in ice, unless you weight 300 lbs or something, should never break.

 

I don't think the weight of the climber or down force on the tool has anything to do with it. All mine broke while levering up one the tool to clean it. You could tell by looking at the break that it cracked at the bottom first and continued to the top.

 

And all mine broke at the same spot as well, behind the 3rd or 4th tooth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
All three makers 'forge' their picks. Grivel hot forges (die forms the steel when hot) while Petzl and BD cold forge (die form cold, heat to temper afterwards).

 

Mind citing a source for your info on Petzl?

 

The difference in grain structure and strength is dramatic between cold "forged" and actualy hot forged steel.

 

The same reason you don't see quality knives made by cold forging. A "cold forged" knife would be simply ground from "bar stock".

 

Hot forged picks can be made thinner (which is the grain structure adding strength) and still resist bending (which is the heat treat).

 

more here:

http://www.forging.org/facts/faq9.htm

 

properly designed steel parts can theoretically have an infinite life under cyclic loading.... You should expect that a properly cared for pick used only in ice, unless you weight 300 lbs or something, should never break.

 

Ya, I bet they say that alot around the warrenty shop at BD ;)

Add mixed climbing and you are easily way past 300#.

If the accounts are correct there is a obvious stress riser on the pick.

 

I haven't posted my 2nd hand info on recent broken picks.

I'll add up what has been posted later.

May be it isn't obvious but I seem to see a pattern :)

 

Grivel has 1

BD has 10

Petzl 0

 

Edited by Dane

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
All three makers 'forge' their picks. Grivel hot forges (die forms the steel when hot) while Petzl and BD cold forge (die form cold, heat to temper afterwards).

 

The difference in grain structure and strength is dramatic between cold "forged" and actualy hot forged steel.

 

No. With proper design, similar mechanical properties can be achieved through either process through heat treating and surface hardening. Hot forging is particularly useful for creating parts with widely varying thicknesses or more complicated geometries that might otherwise require machining, because you can only deform cold steel so much before degrading the grain structure. Either process can produce 'thin' parts, but if a part has to be thick in one section and thin in another, then hot forging is the preferred way to make it.

 

 

The same reason you don't see quality knives made by cold forging. A "cold forged" knife would be simply ground from "bar stock".

 

A poor example. The purpose of a knife blade is to remain sharp. You don't pry anything with a knife blade (if you value your knife). In addition, the knife blades you refer to are typically very high chromium steel, a different animal altogether.

 

In contrast, the purpose of a pick is not to break under bending loads, and, secondarily, to hold a reasonable edge. Stamped/heat treated picks such as Petzl's work wonderfully for this application. Starting with high quality bar stock followed by proper heat treating ensures a uniform, predictable grain structure for the application.

 

Correction: Petzl cold forges most of its crampon parts, not picks. It's Cascade pick is hot forged...I don't know about it's other models. The significant transition in thickness at the attachment end of the pick probably dictates hot forging (which avoids an extra machining step) more than anything.

 

 

Edited by tvashtarkatena

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've never broken a Charlet pick.

My partner broke two Grivel Picks in 24 hours when we were in the rockies.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've broken two of the BD Laser picks, both at the same place about an inch from the tip; 4th tooth maybe. Both times soft ice, relatively warm temps. Fortunately TR'd both times, once at Ouray and once following Bow Falls.

 

It looks like the breaks happen where the tooth depth changes. I remember seeing a collection of busted BD picks at one of the shops in Canada (Mountain MAgic, probably, they all snapped at the same place.

 

The point of maximum tensile stress on a pick is at the ice surface/bottom of the pick. In softer ice, this might coincide with the groove between the 4th and 5th tooth on BD picks (where the tooth depth increases). It seems, though, that there also needs to be a stress concentrator at that point that is unique to BD, because the cross sectional geometry of BD picks at that point insn't significantly different from Petzl's. Forging anomaly? Either that or their steel is just that much weaker. Or both. Or who knows?

 

In any case, a broken pick can mean pain or death. Fuck that. I'm 'sticking' with Petzl.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Back in the day with DMM 1st generation Predators we broke 2 picks in 2 hours on the Plum. They were Guy's old mixed picks he had traded to Vance though - not fresh ones.

 

I've seen 2 parties break BD picks cragging near me in the Rockies (Heart Cr. and Johnson Canyon) and one party break a BD pick at Rambles. dates of these breaks would have been pre-2001.

 

I finally managed to break the tip of a Quark pick earlier this winter by filing down a tooth too skinny (cheap) then pounding it into a buried rock under a coating of fluff with a full overhand swing - AFTER mixed& alpine climbing c. 3000m with it over the last few seasons. It broke off about 3mm from the end and left a flat front that I filed down and climbed more on.. Time for a new one, at $50 each they have to last.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
by tvashtarkatena...Correction: Petzl cold forges most of its crampon parts, not picks. It's Cascade pick is hot forged...I don't know about it's other models

 

Thanks, got a source you can quote for your "cold forging" comments at BD?

 

Looking at the production dates is interesting. Glad Simond was brought up. I have a Chacal and Barracuda that has done a bunch of Canadian, Alaskan and NW ice and still on the original picks. A bit worn but still usable.

 

If I counted correctly here is the current score just from this post.

 

Black Diamond 39 broken

Simond 8 broken

Grivel 7 broken

Petzl 1 broken

 

(edited for clarity)

 

Edited by Dane

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The numbers I posted above and some of the info that was posted by others just didn't make a lot of sense to me. I work with steel every day in a different arena and still climb so I was interested in getting a better look at the real picture of ice tools and breakage of pics.

 

I ended up talking with Bill Belcourt who is "the" guy for R&D at BD. He was also the guy who was head of design on their newest tools. I only know him by reputation. But with early ascents of the North Butt of Hunter and super quick ascent of Huntington among others and starting Grivel NA with Twight I know he's a guy who is going to tell it straight up...good or bad.

 

As I expected "our" numbers don't tell the real story.

 

First thing to clarify is the BD has been using the same pick attachment since '88. That is 20 years of picks out there that you can still bolt right on to a new Cobra. Anything...used enough.. will wear out..it's call fatique life or cycle life. Basically if it is steel, bend it enough and it will break.

Oldest Quark pick is what, 8 years old?

 

A good example is Paulb's broken pick posted above, a manufacturing date of around 10 years by pick design but easily bought only 5 years ago. It happens. All the "newer" BD picks have a 4 number production date stamped on them. The first number is the year of manufacture. The other 3 is day of year. Check the manufature dates on your picks. I have some that are old enough that there are no date codes.

 

And I have some "new" B rated Titan picks I bought used made in '02. There is no easily way to tell the differenece between '02 and '07 beyound date stamp.

 

Good news is there is no difference in manufacture between these '02 picks and the '08 pick. Bad news is there were minor changes through the years on tooth design, pick thickness and width. Just not since '02 :)

 

Things changed a lot between 2000 and 2002...first years for some really hard mixed climbing by a big % of the ice climbing community. Picks (and tools) had to be redesigned because of it.

 

More good news, failure rate of both BD and Grivel picks...'cuz Bill had the numbers from Grivel as well, is between .05 and .07%, which is extremely good. Most companies just want to get to a 1% failure rate and 5% is not unacceptable for others.

 

It should be obvious by now that BD has a huge market share to show the numbers broken here. And they do. More tools out there...more picks out there for a 20 year period. Do the numbers you are bound to see some broken picks.

 

Finally, the BD picks are currently lazer cut from 4340 Chromoly steel plate, then bevels ground specific to pick model, heat treated and then black oxided. No hot or cold forging involved.

 

And to his credit Bill was willing to admit that the current Petzl pick was more durable in fatique testing. But he admitted that what the BD design intentionally gave up in durability it gains in performance..ie easier sticks, easier cleaning and better performance on mixed.

 

The one thing we didn't talk about. I watched a dozen climbers queue at the last tier of Polar Circus this winter. Although I have climbed that route 4 times in the distant past I have never seen so many ice climbers out and about as we do today.

 

Climbing in general is easier..because of better gear and better training or the most part. Ice climbing is even easier still for all the same reasons. We as climbers demand a lot. The tools are so much better today that they were even 10 years ago and you have no idea unless you were there when you go back 30.

 

I wanted this info for me. I wanted to know what currently the "best" tool was. By one measure that means what is the most reliable. By another it is which tool has the features you most want for that particular climb. For another it is the one that makes WI5 the easiest for them.

 

We see an ever increasing varity of tools. All of which offer different specific features. Only reason that happens is there are enough climbers with pocket books big enough to pay for R&D and buy what comes out every season.

 

The vast majority in the current climbing scene want a tool that climbs water ice easily or is hell for stout for hard bolted mixed. A few dinosaurs like myself want a tool that will climb well every where and not break. Tough audience for any manufacture.

 

Guess I 'll worry more about it when i break my first pic :)

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×