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jstluise

Advice on our next route selection...

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My climbing partner and I have been up DC and Emmons a handful of times, with a summit via Gib Ledges, too. I'm gathering beta for our next route choice, and was thinking Kautz Glacier or Kautz Cleaver. Maybe Fuhrer Finger/Thumb?

 

We both just have axes, no tools (and no experience using tools). Haven't climbed anything that requires a second tool, yet. That's why I'm curious about if our next route selection will require them. But, we are efficient and very comfortable with our axes.

 

Any advice/recommendations would be appreciated! Just looking to get away from the crowds and try something new, and it seems like moving to the south side of the mountain is the logical choice. I'd really like to get up to camp Hazard :)

 

Also, our busy summers won't permit us to get up on the mountain until the first half of August. By that time, these routes might not be feasible for us? Might have to save a new route for next year.

 

Thanks!

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Tahoma glacier route is a great next step up that doesn't require ice tools. Some steep snow in places but generally comfortable with just an axe. Probably too broken up in August, so you might want to want until next June or early July. It can be lonely over there, which is one of its great attributes.

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Tahoma glacier route is a great next step up that doesn't require ice tools. Some steep snow in places but generally comfortable with just an axe. Probably too broken up in August, so you might want to want until next June or early July. It can be lonely over there, which is one of its great attributes.

 

Thanks! I'll keep that route in mind!

 

This probably deserves another thread and I'm sure the answer is out there somewhere, but since I am here I will ask. What would you recommend as a "second tool"? Something along the lines of a hybrid tool (eg BD Venom) with a hammer, or a full technical tool (eg BD Cobra/Viper)? Seems like a hybrid would be a good next step, but I'm wondering if I should just skip that and go with a technical tool, since I really want to progress toward more technical routes.

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The Finger will out of condition in August as it is more of an early mid season route. In July it becomes bowling for climbers. The Kautz is a good choice though late in the season it becomes very sun cupped with rotten penitents but a with a good freeze the lower tongue can be ice.

 

Call me old school - but there seems to be a big jump to go to two tools especially on the Kautz. However, there is a lot to be said about learning to competently climbing short easy but icy sections with one tool. Especially on the Kautz where the sections are all of a couple hundred feet and get sun cupped.

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Fuhrer finger may already be out of condition. We ran into a group on Friday who were descending from it, saying they hit a crevasse that they couldn't find a way around. FWIW.

 

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I figured the Finger wouldn't be an option late in the season, just threw it out there as an option for our progression into more technical terrain.

 

Call me old school - but there seems to be a big jump to go to two tools especially on the Kautz. However, there is a lot to be said about learning to competently climbing short easy but icy sections with one tool. Especially on the Kautz where the sections are all of a couple hundred feet and get sun cupped.

 

I completely agree with you. That seems like the most natural progression (getting comfortable with 1 tool). I guess that will be a goal for next year. Now the question is what tool to get. Thinking something like the Petzl Sum'Tec or BD Venom would be a good step up from my traditional axe and will get me on those next routes. Time to do some research!

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My suggestion is to get a pair of tools for the steep stuff. If you need a second just take one and use it with your long tool and not worry about if it makes a good match. At some point you will be able to know when to take what - either two tools or just one and none of the mixed and match.

 

Regardless of what tools I do take with me I take a pair of ski poles. Using a ski pole with an ice axe will help with the shuffle if not on hard ice.

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The finger appears to be done for the season. I was in the group that breadbox referred to. Impassible crevasses at about 12K. It would be a fantastic route otherwise. Do it early in the season and it will provide 1800 feet of sustained 40-45 degree climbing and some route-finding up high. Good luck.

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The finger appears to be done for the season. I was in the group that breadbox referred to. Impassible crevasses at about 12K. It would be a fantastic route otherwise. Do it early in the season and it will provide 1800 feet of sustained 40-45 degree climbing and some route-finding up high. Good luck.

 

Thanks for the info! Sounds like a good route for next year!

 

My suggestion is to get a pair of tools for the steep stuff. If you need a second just take one and use it with your long tool and not worry about if it makes a good match. At some point you will be able to know when to take what - either two tools or just one and none of the mixed and match.

 

So are you saying get a pair of fully technical tools (eg cobra/viper), or more of a hybrid axe (eg venom/sum'tec)? I'm leaning toward picking up a pair of the BD Venom tools, as I'm sure they will get me through mostly anything I tackle in the near future. Just not sure if a fully technical tool is overkill...

 

Is it typical to use a traditional ice axe paired with a tool? It seems like if you in need of a tool, it would be better to have two tools rather than one tool and a traditional ice axe.

 

Thanks for the advice!

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Is it typical to use a traditional ice axe paired with a tool? It seems like if you in need of a tool, it would be better to have two tools rather than one tool and a traditional ice axe.

 

Traditionally climbers used a poilet and a second tool e.g. north wall hammer. Paired tools are typically used on waterfalls and technical alpine ice routes. My personal view is that on moderately technical mountaineering routes such as Liberty Ridge, Coleman Headwall/North Ride of Baker, Adams Glacier, etc a long axe is very useful as much of the ascent and all of the descent are not that steep and a long axe (60 -65cm) is better for that type of terrain. On very steep alpine routes (Triple Couloirs, NF Chair, NW Ice Couloir, Eldo etc) a pair of tools is generally preferred.

Edited by DPS

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Is it typical to use a traditional ice axe paired with a tool? It seems like if you in need of a tool, it would be better to have two tools rather than one tool and a traditional ice axe.

 

Traditionally climbers used a poilet and a second tool e.g. north wall hammer. Paired tools are typically used on waterfalls and technical alpine ice routes. My personal view is that on moderately technical mountaineering routes such as Liberty Ridge, Coleman Headwall/North Ride of Baker, Adams Glacier, etc a long axe is very useful as much of the ascent and all of the descent are not that steep and a long axe (60 -65cm) is better for that type of terrain. On very steep alpine routes (Triple Couloirs, NF Chair, NW Ice Couloir, Eldo etc) a pair of tools is generally preferred.

 

Exactly. So for instance, after you do Kautz and the Finger and want to do Liberty Ridge take a 60cm axe and 50cm hammer (which exactly what I took). Much of the time you will use just 60 cm axe so the longer length will be nice. When you get to the steeper sections and want the hammer whip it out and go. Then when you move over to Ptarmigan, take two tools. With both bring ski poles as that make life much easier on the slog up to high camp.

 

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Traditionally climbers used a poilet and a second tool e.g. north wall hammer. Paired tools are typically used on waterfalls and technical alpine ice routes. My personal view is that on moderately technical mountaineering routes such as Liberty Ridge, Coleman Headwall/North Ride of Baker, Adams Glacier, etc a long axe is very useful as much of the ascent and all of the descent are not that steep and a long axe (60 -65cm) is better for that type of terrain. On very steep alpine routes (Triple Couloirs, NF Chair, NW Ice Couloir, Eldo etc) a pair of tools is generally preferred.

 

Cool, thanks for the input. So, in a situation where you are carrying a traditional axe and a second tool, are you ever using them simultaneously, or do you stow the traditional axe and just use the tool by itself? I guess that is where I'm confused... And if that is the case (stowing the poilet), then I would think bringing a long a hybrid tool only would be a good compromise to bring a poilet and a second tool?

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So, in a situation where you are carrying a traditional axe and a second tool, are you ever using them simultaneously, or do you stow the traditional axe and just use the tool by itself?

Yes, when it gets steep the second tool is used in conjunction with the piolet. As the ice gets steeper/harder you go from plunging, to daggering to full on traction/swinging mode like you would with paired tools.

 

The technical piolet/hybrid tool does not take the place of a second tool. It does climb technical terrain better than a traditional piolet.

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I meant to add this comment: As for the BD Venom tools - meh. The issue with them is that the hammer would be fine for say Liberty Ridge and you could do water fall ice with them but they are not the best. The modern technical tools are over kill for most alpine climbs.

 

One of nicest all round tool is the first generation Cobra. You can plunge them as well as climb steep ice.

 

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Yes, when it gets steep the second tool is used in conjunction with the piolet. As the ice gets steeper/harder you go from plunging, to daggering to full on traction/swinging mode like you would with paired tools.

 

How well does the piolet do when in swinging mode? I haven't been in the situation where I've needed to swing my ice axe (raven pro), and obviously a reverse curve pick of an ice tool is preferred to the positive curve of a piolet tool when climbing ice, but I guess I won't know until I try it.

 

I meant to this: As for the BD Venom tools - meh. The issue with them is that the hammer would be fine for say Liberty Ridge and you could do water fall ice with them but they are not the best. The modern technical tools are over kill for most alpine climbs.

 

So even though a technical tool is overkill, it's really the only option (not considering the hybrid)? From what I gather, either a piolet with a tech ice tool would be good, or even a hybrid paired with a tech ice tool might be an option (since the hybrid give you almost the same functionality as the piolet). At least if I want to give ice climbing a try in the future, I'll already have a set of tools if I forgo the hybrid.

 

Hey Silly, in regards to a comment you made earlier in the thread:

 

However, there is a lot to be said about learning to competently climbing short easy but icy sections with one tool. Especially on the Kautz where the sections are all of a couple hundred feet and get sun cupped.

 

When you say one tool, are you meaning just that: one tool (a piolet)? Or do you mean your piolet with a tool? Seems like some people call a piolet a tool and some don't.

 

Thanks guys for the words of wisdom! Been wanting to get out on more technical stuff for a while and you guys are getting me started in the right direction!

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How well does the piolet do when in swinging mode? I haven't been in the situation where I've needed to swing my ice axe (raven pro), and obviously a reverse curve pick of an ice tool is preferred to the positive curve of a piolet tool when climbing ice, but I guess I won't know until I try it.

 

It depends on the piolet. The Raven Pro, not so well. Other piolets do better. My partner used a Grivel Air Tech Racing Axe paired with a Carbon Fiber Black Prophet (the same piolet - tool combo I now use) to climb Mt Hunter and the NE Buttress of JBerg in winter. A reverse curve pick does climb steep ice better, but a drooped curve is better for general conditions.

 

So even though a technical tool is overkill, it's really the only option (not considering the hybrid)? From what I gather, either a piolet with a tech ice tool would be good, or even a hybrid paired with a tech ice tool might be an option (since the hybrid give you almost the same functionality as the piolet). At least if I want to give ice climbing a try in the future, I'll already have a set of tools if I forgo the hybrid.

I think the line of thought is this; You currently have a piolet so if you invest in a pair of matched ice tools (e.g. Petzl Quark, BD Cobra, etc) then you can use the hammer with your piolet for moderate climbs and you will have a fully functional set of tools for waterfalls and steeper alpine climbs.

 

You certainly can buy a technical piolet (Petzl Sum'Tec, BD Venom, etc) and pair it with a waterfall hammer or even a matching hybrid hammer, but then you are buying another piolet which you already have as well as the matched pair of tools.

 

If money was no object I'd run out and buy a 60 CM Sum'Tec adze and a 50 CM Sum'Tec hammer just for moderate routes. As I don't have buckets of money laying around I use my 12 year old piolet and a third hand 50 cm hammer. For steeper routes I use a paired set of tools.

 

Hey Silly, in regards to a comment you made earlier in the thread:

 

However, there is a lot to be said about learning to competently climbing short easy but icy sections with one tool. Especially on the Kautz where the sections are all of a couple hundred feet and get sun cupped.

 

When you say one tool, are you meaning just that: one tool (a piolet)? Or do you mean your piolet with a tool? Seems like some people call a piolet a tool and some don't.

 

 

I think SS is referring to a single piolet, no second tool.

Edited by DPS

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DPS and I are pretty much on the same page.

 

A piolet will swing quite well. Especially something in the 60cm range (which IMHO the ideal mtneering axe length). But it needs to have bit of head weight. While some of the super light axes are fine for mtn. glacier travel they suck for swinging as they have no head weight and will bounce off ice.

 

Here again is where an old school axe is more functional because the head has some weight behind it. The problem is there seems to be a bit of a gap either super lightweight mtn axe or modern vertical tools being sold today.

 

I would not be hesitant to look on the used market for tools. For instance, here is a pair of first generation Cobras on flea bay:

 

261251139499 - search for this item number.

 

For the cost for one modern tool you can have a pair. And given the seller is in SC they probably did not get a lot of use. (Disclaimer - I do not know the seller or have any interest in the auction).

 

Regarding climbing competently with one tool. I mean just a single axe using your other hand simply for balance. For instance, on Kautz the icy sections are about 45 degrees and are often sun cupped. So you have places for you feet and not on your front points the whole time. And the angle is not so steep you need a tool for balance.

 

Pickup a copy of Chouinard "Climbing Ice" and take a look at it and the techniques for using a single tool.

 

 

FWIW here is my combo -

 

General mtneering - 60 cm Chouinard carbon fiber straight shaft - with interchangeable picks (std curve pick).

 

Technical alpine - 50 cm carbon fiber straight shaft black prophets

 

Technical water fall - 50 cm Cobras.

 

I do not use the black prophets as much these days because the Cobra are so nice but I would be hard pressed to give them up.

 

When I did Liberty Ridge BITD I took a 60cm axe plus a 50cm hammer that were the old first generation blue shaft tools from Chouinard.

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I just went through this exercise as I was preparing for lib ridge which got horribly weathered out :(. Anyhow, I'm an avid ice climber and already had a pair of tools. That being said, after a lot of discussion I bought a "technical axe" - what a great decision.

 

First off, Kautz is fairly easy ice and in the scheme of things, pretty darn short sections. Many of the guided groups DONT bring two tools unless they know the conditions warrant it. Additionally, when I climbed the Kautz (late July a few years ago), I only brought a Raven Pro that was 60cm (I'm 5'7"). So, it can be climbed fairly easy without two tools in the right conditions. In the wrong conditions, I'm sure I would have brought something more aggressive.

 

Secondly, I think in this realm of 40-60 degree, young climbers are far too eager to put emphasis on what tools they have and that experience. Using a tool (unless water ice climbing) is an additional protection but your primary protection is use of your FEET and CRAMPONS. In considering that, footwork is your primary protection. So, make sure you have that dialed.

 

So, on Liberty Ridge - which actually would have had vertical alpine ice - I settled on a Petzl Sum'tek and one of my Cobras. I could have taken BOTH cobras. However, the great thing about the Sum'Tek is that it has a SMOOTH section of the pick under the adze for comfortable holding while walking. This is huge to me. The Cobras have a sharp and aggressive blade on the bottom of the pick that would be uncomfortable to hold in a self-arrest position for any extended period for walking - I've found that because of this I end up changing the technique I use to carry them for long distances.

 

Also, I think the Sum'Tek is a better, more aggressive tool than the Venom. Quite a bit more curve and a fairly excellent movable pinky rest almost turns it into a good leashless second tool. The venom is ok, but I think that the Sum'Tek is a better tool for this kind of climbing.

 

For my height, I actually stuck with a short axe and a tool. So, I had a 52cm Sum'Tek and a 50cm Cobra Hammer. I was happy with this. For me, footwork is more important so I rarely plant my tool unless I absolutely need to. I also use some of those BD Ultra Distance trekking poles as a balancer for glacier travel. In seconds I can stash that and grab my second tool when the terrain gets steeper. The 52cm tool is tall enough for me for when we get above 30 degrees - I start to plant it.

 

Also, ScaredSilly's comment: "Secondary Market" - JUST DO IT. Tools are one of those things that people discard that keep their value. So, check out Mountain Project for sale and various other forums. You'd be surprised what you can get. Second Ascent sometimes has some tools too. I bought my first set of BD Reactors for $199 (two tools total) at Pro Mountain Sports in the U-District. I scored. I got 3 seasons of WI out of them before I upgraded to the Cobras.

 

Craig Luebben wrote a great book for Falcon Guides called "How to Ice Climb" (http://www.amazon.com/How-Climb-Ice/dp/1560447605) - Yeah, cheezy name. However, it has a full list of techniques and suggestions.

 

Finally, if you decide you're NOT ready for this right now... you can rent/borrow some tools and go ice climbing on the lower coleman glacier on Baker and test out all the techniques. It's a great place to dial those skills and an easy day trip. Keep in mind that with the road closed, it's a long bike ride to get there (6ish miles)! DOH.

 

Good luck! Let me know if you want any route beta on the Kautz. So far my favorite route on Rainier (until I finally get up Lib Ridge)

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Wow! Thanks guys! Excellent advice here! After all your advice, I think my best plan of attack will be to get myself a pair of full tech tools...I'll be keeping an eye out on the used market. As it was said, using my piolet along with a hammer will get me going, and then I'll always have a full set of tools for more technical stuff when I get to that point. Then, if I find that I don't like my Raven Pro, I can always pick up a Sum'Tec or Venom adze at a later date.

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