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Bob Loomis

Tech Tip

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Dear Fellow Ice Climbers,

 

I want to pass on a small tech tip which I developed earlier this year. I have a friend who is a mechanical engineer who is also an ice climber. When I showed him my innovation, his response was very enthusiastic. He and I both think it of sufficient value, that is is worth passing on.

Have any of you ever been "gripped out of your mind" while on lead? I sure have. I have often thought, when I am look at the fall to end all falls, that it would be nice to save some time and energy when it comes to placing screws. So my tech tip is a way to modify your harness so your screws rack efficiently and come off your harness with almost no energy and time--nice at the end of a long pitch when the lactic acid in your arms is building up and you want to get a screw in fast.

In many homes people organize their brooms and other items with a handle, using wall mounted "grip clips." The common form is made of spring steel, in which one "snaps" the broom handle in and out of the clip when one is either hanging the broom up after use or pulling it down to use. It so happens that the typical home tool handle (ex., broom handle, etc.) is almost the dimensions of an ice screw.

The typical hardware store sells a pack of four of the medium (3/4" to 1 and 1/4"--sorry to my Canadian friends, I purchased these at a US hardware store--maybe the US will catch up to the rest of the world some day and go all metric) spring steel grip clips for a couple of dollars. They are also sold in plastic, but the cold of ice climbing changes the properties of the plastic to make them more brittle--the spring steel's properties do not change in the cold and they stand up to abuse.

Simply take your harness with these clips to a cobbler shop and for a couple of dollars they will rivet the clips to your harness. I had mine riveted to the padding portion of my harness, not the actual load bearing webbing portion of my harness. Have the cobble put a washer behind the rivet so it does not pull through the harness when tugged on.

Now you are set to go. Clip the screw in, in the space immediately below the hanger where there are no threads. When you need a screw simple pull the screw off the clip (I grab by the handle--kind of like the old western gun fighter quick draw movies). Comes right off and no fine coordination skills required--nice when wearing bulky gloves, and since I pulled the screw off by its handle, in one motion from clip to threading initiation into the ice there is no hand changes or adjustments.

Even though the screw comes off the clip easily with one hand movement it is very hard to knock off or out of the clip by accident and/or bouncing and/or hitting, etc.

In sum, if you give it a try, you will find this to be a clean and efficient way to rack your screws, allows you to effortlessly pull a screw off your harness is no time, and yet securely positions and holds the screws when climbing. Lastly, it is cheap and adds virtually no weight to your harness.

When cleaning the pitch, it is more of a hassle to put the screws on the clip, so when cleaning I just put the screws on a BD Ice Clipper--I have a couple of these on my ice harness as well. This tech tip is for leading--when the clock is ticking and the leader wants to get a screw in as efficiently and quickly as possible.

I hope all who read this have a safe and fun ice climbing season for winter 2008-2009, and if this tech tip helps you to achieve your personal goals, then I am pleased. I have never see this technique used by anyone else, but in my experience, it is a very useful innovation.

 

Cheers,

 

Bob Loomis, Spokane, Washington

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I've been using a pair of Trango Ice Clips for the past 8-10 years, a predecessor of the BD Ice Clipper. My wife got them for me for Christmas one year. I was skeptical at first, but...

 

All metal construction (no plastic to snap off in the cold), and they are firmly attached to the harness by a plate and screws (no wiggling around when you're trying to fiddle a screw on or off the hanger). This attachment scheme required me to buy a separate harness for ice climbing (the BD Alpine Bod without the padding), but I needed the next larger size anyway to fit all of the fleece and shells under the belt.

 

Despite what at least one other reviewer has said about the Trango, I've never accidentally lost a screw off the thing. And it's the easiest "off and on" that I've yet seen.

 

No offense to your tech tip, Bob. Just supplying another option.

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Anybody have problems with ice clippers breaking in extreme cold? I know John's snapped off on GCC but sounds like there were extenuating circumstances. I've used mine down to -40 with no problems but have only done that one day. Anyone refuse to use ice clippers in alpine? I've never had too much trouble racking on biners but ice clippers are definately an easier cleaner way to rack.

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I use my Trango's for ice cragging (single-pitch routes or short multi's), since they clamp on the harness. For alpine work, the daypack hip belt gets in the way of them. So for that, it's back to old skewl and racking screws on biners on a gear sling.

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They were Petzl for what it's worth though I doubt anything plastic would have survived... IMO given the distance falled/speed upon impact either brand would have broken at any temp.

 

I'm currently looking at other options as them breaking basically shut us down.

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Dear Fellow Climbers,

 

I appreciate all of your comments thus far. Just some quick responses:

 

1. I can try to take some pictures of my harness and post the pictures if I can manage to pry our family digital camera away from my wife which I never seem to be able to do, and if I can figure out how to post a picture on this site (I am not very electronic technology savy). So no promises, but I will try.

 

2. I used to use the Trango ice clippers and liked them in many respects, but did lose a couple of screws during the time I used them--once on a rappel--hand drifted up and lifted the screw off the clipper, the other time while wading through deep snow--the snow lifted the screw off the clipper.

 

3. For the first time in my life I broke a BD Ice Clipper last winter, and it was not a particularly cold day. Here is my supposition as to what happened (I am not a materials engineer, so concede I could be wrong). Most plastics tend to degrade over time due to the oxidation process, and typically that means the plastic will tend to become prone to shattering over time. So in my case it was a BD Ice Clipper I had purchased several years ago. On rappel I "bumped" a rock on the way down--yes, just a bump, and the ice clipper broke--down went my screws. Fortunately they landed in a snow bank and I retreived them at the end of the rappel. I do not think someone should adopt my tech tip just on the remote chance their BD Ice Clipper will shatter in mid-pitch after several years of use. I shared my tech tip because it is a fast, simple, and efficient alternative

 

I recognize this suggestion may not work for others, so if it sounds like a bad idea for you and how you climb, that is okay. One of the things I like about climbing is that, at least to some extent, there is individual self-expression in how we climb. Again, I wish all a great 2008-2009 season.

 

Cheers,

 

Bob Loomis, Spokane, Washington

 

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I have this crazy tech tip called placing your ice screws on a carabiner which is actually clipped into a gear loop on your harness. When you want to place a screw you unclip one of the ice screws from the carabiner, which required almost no energy and time at all. Pretty wild stuff.

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Wow, and I thought I was the Arbiter of Old Skewl on this here board.

I bow in humble reverence, O Old Skewl Master DH... :laf:

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Grand Central Couloir on Mt Kitchener (CAN rockies)

That was my guess, but if I had said that publicly and it turned out to be wrong, I would have been so embarrassed. :blush:

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Yeah, a real biner attached to your harness, just like an ice clipper is pretty reliable. Probably not as user friendly, but you're most likely not going to break it.

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arctyrx has a little yellow rubberband you girth hitch a bend gate biner onto your gear loop. never ever had an issue and it leaves my worries to actually getting the goddamn screw into the ice.

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