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Dane

Break a pick?

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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.

 

 

This is not correct. Steel parts can be designed for infinite life under fatique loading, as long as the fatigue limit is not exceeded. Aluminum parts, however, cannot.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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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.

 

 

This is not correct. Steel parts can be designed for infinite life under fatique loading, as long as the fatigue limit is not exceeded. Aluminum parts, however, cannot.

 

So, somehow (in your mind) "bend it enough and it will break" does not correlate to exceeding a fatigue limit.

 

Go away kid, ya bother us.

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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.

 

 

This is not correct. Steel parts can be designed for infinite life under fatique loading, as long as the fatigue limit is not exceeded. Aluminum parts, however, cannot.

 

So, somehow (in your mind) "bend it enough and it will break" does not correlate to exceeding a fatigue limit.

 

Go away kid, ya bother us.

 

Your comment reveals that you're not familiar enough with fatigue theory to correctly interpret either Dane's posting or my response. In short, you're not knowledgeable enough to add to this particular aspect of the discussion. Spray is south of here. Run along.

 

Anyway, back to the discussion.

 

If BD picks break more readily than Petzl's, (does BD also have Petzl's pick failure rate, as they do Grivel's...they also didn't really reveal their own number in that regard) and it seems that BD admits that they have traded off durability for other design criteria, I wonder if:

 

Laser cutting produces a sharper edge radius at the tooth divot (point of maximum stress and one from which a number of field failures seem to start) than Petzl's forging process. This combined with a higher level of hardening might produce microcracks at such a stress concentrator in torsion, when the pick is twisted (which it often is while climbing or during removal). Or perhaps BD's steel is simply treated to be more brittle, either throughout or at the surface, which would reduce fracture toughness.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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From our little survey, BD picks break much more often than others. The question still remains: Why? BD didn't provide much in the way of an answer to this question in their response.

 

I ended up talking with Bill Belcourt who is "the" guy for R&D at BD.

 

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?

 

This answer attempts to explain more broken BD picks because people tend to use them longer than other brands, but I doubt this is true. Climbers periodically replace picks after so many sharpenings, regardless of brand, so their service life is probably similar across all brands. What the age of the oldest Quark has to do with anything is beyond me. All of the major manufacturers have been making modern ice tools since the 1970s.

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.

 

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.

 

It would be interesting to know exactly what design changes were made, and whether or not these changes had any effect on breakage, or was that even a design criteria. And, usually, changes in manufacturing mean "how can we make this stuff cheaper?". Did this have an effect on pick durability?

 

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.

 

From our small sample, apparently the failure rate of BD picks is many times BD's official number. Perhaps they get their number from lab testing, or from incomplete field data, but it seems as though they're not even close to reality.

 

 

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.

 

 

BD has 38 times more market share than Petzl Charlet? No way, not in ice tools. Even if their market share was 4 or 5 times what Petzl Charlet's is, which I seriously doubt, this wouldn't come close to explaining our little survey, which, admittedly, is not scientific, but the differences in numbers are pretty stark. And again, all the major manufacturers have been out there for more than 20 years, so that number is irrelevant.

 

 

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.

 

This is the only answer from BD that actually seems to address the question. Whether BD tools/picks climb better than anyone elses is debatable, but BD admits that their picks break more.

 

The question remains: why?

 

 

 

 

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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I've only broken one pick and that was many years ago on a CM Quasar. Admittedly I has trying to see how it behaved by torquing it in a crack next to the ground. I thought (and hoped) it would bend before it broke. It did not. I don't know how relevant my anecdote is to this discussion since that tool and picks haven't been produced in years.

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On a related note, in an effort to work with modified prototype tools, I found myself needing to drill holes in BD picks (circa 2003). I could drill a roughly 1/8 hole through Stinger picks with ease using a press with an $8.00 bit. I then destroyed two of the same bits in an effort to drill through an Alaska pick. I bumped up to a $45.00 tungsten carbide bit which still failed to go 1/3 through before it shattered. The Alaska picks were made of vastly harder metal. I'd broken the original Stinger so easily (deep, soft ice) that I figured that the added durability of the Alaska was the way to go.

 

Has anyone broken a BD Alaska pick?

 

GB

 

 

 

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So many questions and so little actual data posted in the comments. We are touching on so many issues and none of them in the detail they require.

 

First off the numbers posted are relavant. 20 years of picks that go on a current Cobra means (like some of the posts here) that older picks are clearly still being used and broken. BD owns the majority market share in the US. Take a look at 2nd Ascents used wall if you want to see just how true that is.

 

Belcourt discussed quite openly with me the design changes of 2000/2002. I wrote a more detailed post about that last night and still missed some of the details. It is in quotes at the bottom. The actual failure rate for BD and Grivel is less than 1%. For the reading challenged, and to Belcourt's credit, he readily admitted that Petzel picks were up to 20% more durable than a BD pic, becasue BD has intentionally designed their picks to a higher performance standard. Again...BD has decided to use a smaller cross section and width than Petzel. No secret why the Petzl picks are more durable, first and formost, less metal on them. IMO another factor is BD cuts their picks from plate instead of hot forging. But forging can be argued as well over current steel quality and heat treats.

 

We're all climbers here, we can debate "performance standards" all day long. Maybe Trash and Will Gladd want the ultimate in performance. Trash's performance might well be different that Gladd's newest M12. I'm willing to make a few trade offs every time I pick from my quiver. Key here is we all have a "quiver" to choose from :)

 

Trash, let's not be obtuse, any metal part can be tested to failure even if you go outside the design spec to do so. Testing to failure is part of manufaturing. But modern tools are designed to have disposable picks, so breaking one isn't outside the design is it?

 

Charlet/Petzl and Quark pics and their date of manufacture? Again so I don't send every minute writing about picks, read between the lines here. Quarks have been around since the winter of 2001? The Quark design came as a redesign from the other Charlet/Moser tools that were great tools but less than durable in some instances. Broken handles/heads were a probelm at Charlet/Moser (later Petzl) during that same time (2000/2002) as they were problems for BD and lesser so for Grivel. No ten year old picks being sold as new and getting bolted to a Quark.

 

So you get the Quark in 2001, T rated shaft and a hot forged pick

in both B and T ratings. The Quark was the state of the art IMO as a water fall tool until the newest designs from Grivel and BD show up most recently. But by now the sport has changed a lot at the cutting edge.

 

State of the art could be argued by those same guys actually at the cutting edge of ice tool use. Take a look at what Twight, Backes and House took up the Czech Direct back in the day. Curved handles on an alpine route..who would have thought?

 

Take a look what Slawinski, Gladd, House, Anderson, Owens and Walsh use now. Those guys are climbing as hard as anyone on alpine and mixed. Trust me they can be climbing on free tools from any company they choose. I would suspect they all use what they know will get them up climbs. But in the current climbing industry I've no doubt there is at least a small finacial incentive as well. Three tool suppliers and all have been up some "state of the art" routes. It is public knowledge that Grivel and BD has broken picks with sponsored climbers I haven't heard anything on the Petzel side. Might well be just the fact that Petzl isn't as high profile. But who knows...our survey doesn't seem to show that.

 

Finally my comments on BD picks partly from the conversation with Belcourt yesterday and some pure speculation on my part about the previous generation of shaft and pick angles (not pick design). Only time will tell if the current shaft designs help the picks hold up any better.

 

The third tooth...and my understanding about the current production BD

picks.

 

If you have picks made after 2002 the 3rd and 4th tooth have a smaller incut to make the 3rd and 4th tooth smaller. That adds cross section and reduces the size of the stress riser that cutting the tooth into the pic causes.

 

Earlier picks did not have the smaller 3 and 4 teeth. The smaller teeth means the pick will break less often. Teeth 3/4 are also the place where you get the best "stick" on good ice. Tooth 3/4 are the exact place that the stress risers of the teeth and the leverage you put on the handle all meet.

The same place you'll put the most strain on a pick by the leverage you add as you crank up on the shaft to clean the pick for the next placement.

 

BD has redesigned the tools (different shaft curves, lighter heads and thinner shafts for more head spead) so you are less likely to over drive the tools, which means you'll also put less force on the pick to remove it.

 

I am still inclined to think something is missing from the equation. From my own use and the conversation today with Mr. Belcourt I'd also venture to guess that the angle on the previous BD tool handles and the angle of their picks

puts a much greater force on the 3/4 teeth when you clean the tool than say the Quark angles and its pick under similar circustances. One of the first things I noticed when comparing a Quark with the newest Cobra was the tools clean (and swing) slightly different for me. The Quark needs less up and down

before you lift it straight out and more wrist flick to place. The recent redesign @ BD is an effort to prevent over driving the tool so you don't use too much leverage to clean it.

 

the above is just my "out of my ass" thought process from talking about this issue for two days so take it for what it is worth

 

Check the four number manufacturing dates on your picks.

If you have a pick made in 2002 (anything maked before 2001) you might be able to buy a better pick. (A "3245" manufacturing date means the pick was made in 2003 on the 245 day of that year, "2111" is 2002 pick made on day

111 of that year, "2001" is 2002 day 1). Titon picks (T rated) have a deeper cross section and a thicker blade, they will last longer because of the heavier material. Because of the performance built into the current Lazer picks...which really means the pick is cut thin on two plans to place

easier...you'll still be breaking picks at the smaller 3 and 4 teeth.

 

Technology is there to give us almost unbreakable picks. But there are down sides...on being price...say $150 @ retail and they'd be so hard that you'd be skating the picks off on mixed rock.

 

Next comment I'll have on the subject will be after some field testing next week.

 

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So many questions and so little actual data posted in the comments. We are touching on so many issues and none of them in the detail they require.

 

Belcourt discussed quite openly with me the design changes of 2000/2002. I wrote a more detailed post about that last night and still missed some of the details. It is in quotes at the bottom. The actual failure rate for BD and Grivel is less than 1%. For the reading challenged, and to Belcourt's credit, he readily admitted that Petzel picks were up to 20% more durable than a BD pic, becasue BD has intentionally designed their picks to a higher performance standard. Again...BD has decided to use a smaller cross section and width than Petzel. No secret why the Petzl picks are more durable, first and formost, less metal on them. IMO another factor is BD cuts their picks from plate instead of hot forging. But forging can be argued as well over current steel quality and heat treats.

 

I'd say you left out all the relevant information from Belcourt last night. Perhaps you're 'writing challenged'. I've postulated that laser cutting might produce sharper radii at the edge of the inner teeth (the most common failure point). Does BD have an opinion on whether their manufacturing process makes a difference?

 

 

Trash, let's not be obtuse, any metal part can be tested to failure even if you go outside the design spec to do so. Testing to failure is part of manufaturing. But modern tools are designed to have disposable picks, so breaking one isn't outside the design is it?

 

There's nothing obtuse about correcting your mistatement about infinite fatigue life. Picks are not disposable solely because they break; it's primarily because they get a) damaged or b) too short due to repeated sharpening. It's obviously possible to design a well performing pick that has a very long fatigue life when used properly in ice only (dry tooling is another matter) because Petzl has apparently done so. Everyone chooses their poison; since a fall from a broken pick can result in injury or death, I choose the more reliable Petzl pick which, in experience, seems to perform just as well as any BD offering, so I don't feel as though I'm sacrificing performance in any way, but that's just me.

 

Regarding most of the rest of what your wrote, the several rambling paragraphs about Will Gadd et can be condensed into:

 

"check the date code on your new BD pick so you're not getting a weaker pre-2002 model".

 

 

 

 

The third tooth...and my understanding about the current production BD

picks.

 

If you have picks made after 2002 the 3rd and 4th tooth have a smaller incut to make the 3rd and 4th tooth smaller. That adds cross section and reduces the size of the stress riser that cutting the tooth into the pic causes.

 

 

Earlier picks did not have the smaller 3 and 4 teeth. The smaller teeth means the pick will break less often. Teeth 3/4 are also the place where you get the best "stick" on good ice. Tooth 3/4 are the exact place that the stress risers of the teeth and the leverage you put on the handle all meet.

The same place you'll put the most strain on a pick by the leverage you add as you crank up on the shaft to clean the pick for the next placement.

 

BD has redesigned the tools (different shaft curves, lighter heads and thinner shafts for more head spead) so you are less likely to over drive the tools, which means you'll also put less force on the pick to remove it.

 

 

I am still inclined to think something is missing from the equation. From my own use and the conversation today with Mr. Belcourt I'd also venture to guess that the angle on the previous BD tool handles and the angle of their picks

puts a much greater force on the 3/4 teeth when you clean the tool than say the Quark angles and its pick under similar circustances. One of the first things I noticed when comparing a Quark with the newest Cobra was the tools clean (and swing) slightly different for me. The Quark needs less up and down

before you lift it straight out and more wrist flick to place. The recent redesign @ BD is an effort to prevent over driving the tool so you don't use too much leverage to clean it.

 

the above is just my "out of my ass" thought process from talking about this issue for two days so take it for what it is worth

 

Check the four number manufacturing dates on your picks.

If you have a pick made in 2002 (anything maked before 2001) you might be able to buy a better pick. (A "3245" manufacturing date means the pick was made in 2003 on the 245 day of that year, "2111" is 2002 pick made on day

111 of that year, "2001" is 2002 day 1). Titon picks (T rated) have a deeper cross section and a thicker blade, they will last longer because of the heavier material. Because of the performance built into the current Lazer picks...which really means the pick is cut thin on two plans to place

easier...you'll still be breaking picks at the smaller 3 and 4 teeth.

 

 

Finally, the meat of the matter.

 

 

 

Technology is there to give us almost unbreakable picks. But there are down sides...on being price...say $150 @ retail and they'd be so hard that you'd be skating the picks off on mixed rock.

 

That's why Petzl makes a Quad pick for mixed (beefier, and quite a bit less than $150 apiece) and a Cascade pick for pure ice. All the manufacturers recommend that you don't dry tool and ice climb on the same set of picks.

 

 

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Technology is there to give us almost unbreakable picks. But there are down sides...on being price...say $150 @ retail and they'd be so hard that you'd be skating the picks off on mixed rock.

BD went down that road 10 years ago with the AerMet Stinger picks. In theory, they seemed like a great idea. It'd be interesting to know which of cost/price or performance led to them being discontinued.

Edited by PaulB

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From what I heard, Aermets were discontinued due to problems with production. The picks were so tough that the tooling used was getting damaged or destroyed.

 

GB

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BD went down that road 10 years ago with the AerMet Stinger picks. In theory, they seemed like a great idea. It'd be interesting to know which of cost/price or performance led to them being discontinued.

 

Hi Paul,

This is worth addressing and good to see someone remembers;) I'm familiar with the issues of manufacturing from AerMet 100 and 310. So that was part of the discussion with Belcourt. The production/tooling costs are extremely high for such exotic steels and the material costs are also higher than the norm. Bill's comment was the cost of the AriMet pick to them was $110...which wholesaled to dealers @ $60. Easy to see why that social service program didn't last long.

 

But then that was the days of $20 picks and now the going rate is $35 from BD and $45 from Petzel or Grivel. So I suspect there might well be some room at a much higher price point for the right customer. If sales can justify it.

 

Bill's comments were something like this:

"AriMet produced a pick with incredible durability. They would stay sharp a long time no matter the climbing terrain, and because of that get used in harsh conditons even longer. Right up to the time they broke. But no question they did have a longer life cycle."

 

(I bought the last dozen BD AriMet picks ever produced yesterday, Gladd's returns I hear ;) )

 

"They also were so hard that none of our guys liked them for hard mixed climbing. The steel would skate off holds, instead of "grab", which the current steel and heat treat does." Remember the swing to hard mixed was just getting started in 1999/2000/2001. Ice tool sales were about to boom. But a pick that wouldn't mix climb well was a dead horse...no matter the cost.

 

New steels and current R&D might well give us another chance at a pick that will do "everything".

 

Oh, and Trash...ah, never mind... 24.gif

 

 

 

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Interesting stuff Dane :tup:

 

Bill's comment was the cost of the AriMet pick to them was $110...which wholesaled to dealers @ $60. Easy to see why that social service program didn't last long.

 

Those numbers seem a bit off. MSRP on the standard BD picks ~2000 was $38.50. My memory was Aermets were <2x the cost of the standard pick so <$75 (catalogs of 2000-02 don't list Aermets). I can see why they couldn't be made for $40 to keep a decent hardgoods margin, but $110 seems really high. For reference the black prophet ice tool cost less to manufacture.

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I have no clue what the costs to BD were on the AerMet picks, just repeating the numbers I was given. They may not be exact but I have no reason to doubt the big price differences. Or BD underwriting a pick no one would buy at the actual manufacturing price.

 

I suspect we'll see an AerMet pick return (from some source and may be not BD) with a justifiably healthy price tag attached.

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Dane- Did Bill Belcourt indicate whether or not the laser recast and heat affected zone (HAZ) were removed prior to further processing? I work in aerospace sheet metal and am very familiar with aircraft quality requirements on lasered edges to avoid fatigue issues in the heat affected zone on lasered edges.

 

In practice, it is nearly impossible to ensure that the laser HAZ is always removed from a part as thick as an ice tool pick unless the entire lasered periphery is subsequently machined, typically by CNC mill. It is possible to remove the HAZ mechanically via a die grinder, but this is time-consuming and causes part-to-part dimensional variation. I'd be really surprised if BD went through the trouble to remove the laser HAZ; more likely they just knock off the overhanging recast and call it good.

 

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Another armchair theory; I've climbed with BDs. Sometimes hard sticks are near impossible to clean; grab head and up down, jerk out, repeat. Damn. Waste of energy and always in precarious position.

 

But I've been told Petzl picks clean much easier. One climber says "never have to take hand off grip to clean".

 

So, maybe BDs break more because people are having to torque them up and down more to clean them? Just a thought.

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Tvash -

 

I'm not sure what the strength and ductility is for the steel that BD used for their picks, so the impact of the laser HAZ on fatigue life is beyond my scope of knowledge without a bit more info on the subject.

 

However, I do know this:

 

1) We hardly ever laser 0.150 thick material because there's no practical way to remove the HAZ (~.010-.020+ deep depending on laser type, part geometry, laser tuning, etc.)

2) I'd debit the area in question using a Kt of 3 if I were doing any fatigue life calcs on a pick just due to the geometry, so all the structural engineers that I work with would require complete HAZ removal unless the area is very lightly loaded (which the parts in question obviously are not based on how often they break!)

Edited by tradhead

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so i don't know anything about metal work, but are people implying that black diamond isn't making their picks correctly (ie., this whole laser business), and that's why they break more often?

 

or are they just a bit thinner or something like that...

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Nice thread, makes me want to look into a career in metallurgy. (correct spelling?)

 

I've never broken a pick, though my seasons on ice end up being short...I can only take so many road trips during the winter. This year, I switched from Petzl to BD. Petzl's picks are tough, for sure. My Quad picks seemed indestructible. The Cascades irritated me, though, because after two or three filings, it was already down to the first tooth. Though I did notice that, later on, the noses on them got a bit longer...

 

I feel fortunate to have a pal in SLC that, because of his close proximity to the industry there, ends up with a set of the newest stuff every time it comes out. He's not a light-handed climber, either...he's all power. If something survives him, I know it will last. This year, he picked up a set of new BD tools, and his picks survived a full season of good SLC ice without a single breakage. That speaks volumes to me.

 

Good info on this one, and enjoyable to read.

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I did some more research today at work into the laser HAZ issue, and while it is an interesting point, feel that it is probably not the most likely root cause for short pick life.

 

Talking to our in-house laser guru, he felt that my estimate for HAZ depth was somewhat overstated for steels, but probably pretty good for titanium (which I somewhat ironically have more direct experience with laser trimming.) He suggested that <.005-.015 is probably more realistic for 0.150 thick low alloy steel, which is very much laser type dependant. A YAG will be on the low end while a CO2 laser will be on the high end of this range.

 

I also thought a bit about the reported failures and in general wouldn't characterize them as high cycle fatigue, where laser HAZ cracking becomes an issue. It seems like the material is just brittle and that's why it breaks. This could be caused by a number of factors including the raw material type and quality, heat treatment, pick shape, loading, or combination of these factors.

 

My metallurgist friend at work is on vacation for the next few days. I'll discuss this issue with him when he's back and pass on any thoughts that he has on the subject.

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I’ve done a little more research over the past week. Obviously it is going to take a lot more.

 

I’d believe, as Bill Belcourt mentioned, that the Petzl Cascade pick is somewhere around 20% more durable than the standard Laser on the BD tools. A choice BD intentionally makes for higher performance on the Lazer pick.

 

Look at the BD Titan pick and strength is simply added by using more material. BD doesn't give away anything in durablity with the Titan.

 

We can all argue that BD performance edge but until any of us start doing those cutting edge routes our personal choice in tools isn't really important past our own pocket books.

 

I’d also guess that the number of failures we have seen on this post are time in market and market share issues more than having a bad product @ BD. But it is only a guess and any product can be improved. But how strong is “strong enough” and where does a pick need to be?

 

The current perception in the market place alone says BD could improve their pick durability.

 

Although the picks seem very similar in design they are not. The current version of the Quark and Cobra handles, however, are.. So you can leave the older handle designs and past pick failures out of the equation. Lets look at just the newest tool/pick designs.

 

Some of the most obvious of my observations:

The BD Lazer is thinner and shorter in height at the front of pick than the Petzel Cascade. That alone should make the BD Lazer less durable. The BD picks also have a much deeper bevel on the upper side of the pick, again less material, less durable. But the flip side, every thing being equal, the BD pick should have better penetration just by having less volume.

 

The BD picks all have fewer teeth on the underside of the pick. That should make the picks more durable because they have less stress risers from the teeth being cut.

 

Petzl has more teeth and because of it more stress risers. But the Petzel picks are using a bigger diameter cut at all the pick teeth so the stress riser is smaller on each tooth notch.

 

Petzl is grinding the lower edge of the pick at a sharper angle and again lowering the influence of the tooth grind on durability. BD makes a light grind in the same area with little or no influence on the surface area of the teeth. The bigger the grind here, the less the teeth bite, the easier the pick cleans and the less leverage/force the pick will see.

 

And then there is the steel used, both picks are Rc spec’ed between 40/44. BD is lazer cutting from 4340 plate and Petzl is forging from (unknown to me) Chrome moly. Both are using various levels of hand finishing. My observations and price points would seem to confirm Petzl is doing the most hand finishing.

 

From what I have seen even with all the nuances on the pick material, manufacture and design I think the most telling difference is the angle of attack on the BD pick compared to the Petzl Quark.

 

The Quark has a much steeper pick angle than the Cobra. That makes for a slightly different swing between the two. There are people at every level of climbing who prefer one manufacture’s design over the other.

 

BD is intentionally addressing differing skill levels and conditions by handle design in their tools. My take is Petzl is intentionally addressing differing conditions more than skill level with their line of tools. Each is a sound marketing plan.

 

Skill level also needs to be considered in any survey results.

If you have the largest market share, with dbl the service life as your competitors and you have a huge margin of failures over your nearest competitor on a list like this but your R&D team's feed back shows almost zero failure over a 4 year period something else is obviously happening that has not been identified yet.

 

More research, field documentation and some finite element analysis to come I hope.

 

aaw.sized.jpg

 

aax.sized.jpg

 

Everyone has used a claw hammer to pull a nail with varying degrees of success. IMO the tighter arc on the BD reverse curve is causing a fulcrum point in the area of tooth 3 to 6 where upward leverage will break the BD pick sooner than the straighter angles and less leverage of the Petzl pick. Add bigger stress risers in that same area and less material and the end result would seem painfully obvious.

 

But just how strong is “strong enough”. I’ve had email exchanges with some of the sponsored BD climbers and quizzed them on their own pick breakage. The newest BD tools with current production and unmodified picks are just not breaking with that group of climbers. Yes they are wearing out picks by climbing a lot of mixed. But I have yet to hear of a broken pick from that small group. If that changes I'll post the info.

 

Hard to believe just how complicated our little "battle axes" really are :) But a closer looks shows there is a lot going on.

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Interesting stuff!

 

All I have to add is that I climbed on Petzl tools until this year when I switched to the new Cobras.

 

In my opinion, the BD Laser pick is horrible. Absolutely horrible. I know quite a few other sponsored and non-sponsored climbers who feel the same way. My picks came with NO bevel on the teeth and stuck in the ice like crazy. After retooling the pick with a file so that is has a bevel and fixing some other issues, I feel comfortable climbing hard climbs with the pick.

 

I definitely had to torque much more on the stock Laser picks than the Petzl Cascade picks to get them out of the ice, perhaps this difference contributes to more broken BD picks?

 

Also, just a quick note on the current stock picks on new BD tools, they do break. I know a couple climbers who have broken them already.

Edited by Doug Shepherd

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I’d believe, as Bill Belcourt mentioned, that the Petzl Cascade pick is somewhere around 20% more durable than the standard Laser on the BD tools. A choice BD intentionally makes for higher performance on the Lazer pick.

 

We can all argue that BD performance edge but until any of us start doing those cutting edge routes our personal choice in tools isn't really important past our own pocket books.

 

 

Breaking a pick isn't just a performance issue, it's a safety issue. As for BD picks 'performing better' than others, nothing anyone's stated here would seem to indicate that that is true. And I seriously doubt that the 'lack of durability' is 'intentionally' designed in as a tradeoff for this elusive performance advantage. BD would probably like to fix this issue (perhaps they have, perhaps not; their field testing seems to produce different numbers than ours, but that's not unusual for any company), but it doesn't sound like from your statements that you're anywhere close to describing the real root causes of BD's breakage issue.

 

 

I’d also guess that the number of failures we have seen on this post are time in market and market share issues more than having a bad product @ BD. But it is only a guess and any product can be improved. But how strong is “strong enough” and where does a pick need to be?

 

About a strong as a Petzl maybe?

 

You're apparently not drawing your conclusions from what people have posted on this thread. Several posters here have stated that they've broken new BD picks. And a 40 to 1 breakage ratio isn't market share related: BD doesn't have anywhere near that kind of market advantage.

 

 

 

 

 

My observations:

The BD Lazer is thinner and shorter in height at the front of pick than the Petzel Cascade. That alone should make the BD Lazer less durable. The BD picks also have a much deeper bevel on the upper side of the pick, again less material, less durable. But the flip side, every thing being equal, the BD pick should have better penetration just by having less volume.

 

Performance is determined by the whole tool, not just the pick.

 

A 30 second analysis quickly shows that the 'less material' argument could not possibly account for BD's very high rate of breakage compared to other picks. The moment of internia of a rectangular section, which determines breaking strength for a beam in bending (like a pick) when only geometry is considered, is I=(thickness)*(height)^2/12. If the breakage ratio of BD to other picks was as low as 5:1, (from this thread, that would be really conservatively low), then a fraction of a mm in pick thickness or several mm s difference in pick height wouldn't even come close to explaining BD's lack of durability. BD claims that Petzl picks last 20% longer in fatigue, but without knowing the test setup (force/direction/how the pick is secured in the test fixture) what does that mean? Do the picks fail in torsion due to twisting, bending sideways, or bending in the vertical axis during these tests?

 

The BD picks all have fewer teeth on the underside of the pick. That should make the picks more durable because they have less stress risers from the teeth being cut.

 

Petzl has more teeth and because of it more stress risers. But the Petzel picks are using a bigger diameter cut at all the pick teeth so the stress riser is smaller on each tooth notch.

 

 

You can't state this without knowing what minimum tooth radius produces any significant stress concentration. If both teeth radii are above this limit, there is no significant stress concentration from the tooth geometry and this is not a factor.

 

Petzl is grinding the lower edge of the pick at a sharper angle and again lowering the influence of the tooth grind on durability. BD makes a light grind in the same area with little or no influence on the surface area of the teeth. The bigger the grind here, the less the teeth bite, the easier the pick cleans and the less leverage/force the pick will see.

 

And then there is the steel used, both picks are Rc spec’ed between 40/44. BD is lazer cutting from 4340 plate and Petzl is forging from (unknown to me) Chrome moly. Both are using various levels of hand finishing. My observations and price points would seem to confirm Petzl is doing the most hand finishing.

 

 

It was stated previously on this thread that Petzl cold forges their Cascade pick from 4340 (a chrome moly steel, same stuff as BD, although heat treat and steel vendors differ for sure). I observe no finishing differences between the two picks; cold forging produces a nice dimensionally accurate piece with a nice surface finish that requires little in the way of post processing, so I'm not sure where you're coming up with that particular speculation. The price point difference, only 10 to 15%, is probably due more to BD's volume price breaks, and differences in manufacturing costs based on process and place of manufacture.

 

 

From what I have seen even with all the nuances on the pick material, manufacture and design I think the most telling difference is the angle of attack on the BD pick compared to the Petzl Quark.

 

The Quark has a much steeper pick angle than the Cobra. That makes for a slightly different swing between the two. There are people at every level of climbing who prefer one manufacture’s design over the other.

 

BD is intentionally addressing differing skill levels and conditions by handle design in their tools. My take is Petzl is intentionally addressing differing conditions more than skill level with their line of tools. Each is a sound marketing plan.

 

 

Really? Petzl makes one high end ice tool (the Quark), and one high end mixed tool (the Nomic). They make a mixed pick and an ice pick for the Quark. The rest are alpine tools. Hardly addressing differing conditions I'd say. Seems like two sizes fits all, and none of those sizes seem to break much.

 

 

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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