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WildBlue

How long should wands be?

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So I bought some bamboo wands at Home Depot to use for marking glacier routes. They are all five feet long, and that seems kind of excessive to me. It seems like all the wands I see on Rainier are much shorter. Should I cut the wands I bought shorter?

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I made the same mistake a few years ago on my first trip to Rainier. I bought 4-5 foot high bamboo poles. It's totally overkill.

 

Better option is to go to the gardening shop at Home Depot and get the thin green gardening wands. they're about 2 feet long and plenty for mountaineering.

 

Another tip I picked up, get some reflective tape, helps to find the wand if you're unlucky enough to be descending in the dark.

Edited by skeletor

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5 feet? Yes, too long for most climbing, unless maybe you're marking for longer-term applications such as a cache in winter conditions. I've made at least 6-foot wands for marking snow runways for planes in Alaska.

 

Three feet is actually ideal for most of our Cascades climbing. Two feet? By the time you pop that in, and there's falling or blowing snow, a two-footer can be easily covered up. My fav wands I've used are 3-footers: I make a split in the top, tie heavy duty flagging of two different colors (glow-orange or glow-pink, along with glow green) with a single overhand knot through the split, then wrap the top with 3M fluorescent tape. Easily seen in the dark with your headlamp, and the 2 contrasting flagging colors are more easily seen in white-out type conditions. Depending on how you carry your wands--most pop them into their pack's side pockets--3-footers are easier to reach back and grab when you want to place one. Get the heavy-duty, not thin, ones. You'll appreciate it if you're trying to place them in frozen or refrozen snow: I once mangled more than a dozen of the thin cheap variety on one particular Rainier trip.

 

Cutting your wands in half will work just fine.

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what everyone else says and add:

I would add one ribbon flag of very dark color, darkest available. Coming down in white outs, the day glow colors are hard to see. I end up only seeing the vertical wand and not the flags. A inverted "L" would be much more visible than a "I".

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I would get a cheap GPS and use the 5 foot bamboo stick to make a small fort for the neighborhood children.

 

I haven't had issues with reception on Rainer. Once you are on the glacier it's pretty wide open. You can keep it tracking the entire climb so you can retrace, or you can turn it on every few minutes to set a waypoint. Either way, keep it inside your jacket to keep the batteries warm.

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I would get a cheap GPS and use the 5 foot bamboo stick to make a small fort for the neighborhood children.

 

I haven't had issues with reception on Rainer. Once you are on the glacier it's pretty wide open. You can keep it tracking the entire climb so you can retrace, or you can turn it on every few minutes to set a waypoint. Either way, keep it inside your jacket to keep the batteries warm.

 

The purpose of wands is often not so much to mark where you have been and need to go but also to mark cracks. A GPS is of little use when it comes to cracks. Walking between two way points may just dump yer butt in a hole. While GPS have their uses learning to utilize all forms of navigation is best.

 

As for the length for wands - it all depends on their intended purposes. The longer the time frame and the softer the snow the longer they should be. Three feet is a good length for most. Stick a foot into the snow leaving two feet exposed.

 

 

 

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I recommend against relying on wands to mark cracks. The cracks don't really care where you put wands and will open up in the most inopportune places and times.

 

I used wands for a number of years. They made me angry, I realized there was a better way.

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Three feet is actually ideal for most of our Cascades climbing. Two feet? By the time you pop that in, and there's falling or blowing snow, a two-footer can be easily covered up.

 

Rounding error...

 

The other issue with bamboo poles, is they're thick. Those green gardening wants are much thinner. I'd return the bamboo if you still can...

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The size of the wand often depends on where in the world the wand is from. Which is a very unfortunate and flawed thing indeed. Asian wands tend to be the shortest, which is ironic seeing as they have the biggest mountains and therefore bigger 'cracks' to deal with. Just as ironic is that wands from Africa tend to be the biggest and longest but they have the least glaciers over there. Then there are North American wands that come in fancy packages, but are often not as long as they claim to be. Whats up with that? Beats me...

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The size of the wand often depends on where in the world the wand is from. Which is a very unfortunate and flawed thing indeed. Asian wands tend to be the shortest, which is ironic seeing as they have the biggest mountains and therefore bigger 'cracks' to deal with. Just as ironic is that wands from Africa tend to be the biggest and longest but they have the least glaciers over there. Then there are North American wands that come in fancy packages, but are often not as long as they claim to be. Whats up with that? Beats me...

Thats what she said.

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Three feet is actually ideal for most of our Cascades climbing. Two feet? By the time you pop that in, and there's falling or blowing snow, a two-footer can be easily covered up.

 

Rounding error...

 

 

No rounding error at all. Maybe I should have put in a new paragraph break for you after the first sentence above. Indeed I think 3 feet is ideal, and two feet is too short. However, if any woman asks, it's always at least five feet. :D

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Sorry, pindude, I guess I wasn't being clear. I meant my estimate of my wands' length at 2 feet was more a factor of rounding error...

 

I didn't go measure them, I was sitting in the office writing that. I know that being six foot tall I have to lean down to place one of those, and so I was thinking it must be less than three feet in length.

 

The wands I buy at Home Depot are about three feet long. You're spot on.

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