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Ben Beckerich

Ushba Ti Ice Axe - anyone have one?

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Howdy

 

Anybody used the Ushba titanium ice axe? Kinda thinking about grabbing one, but for some reason it seems like titanium climbing products usually suck... so I figured I'd ask around first.

 

 

-B

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I handled one about 15 years ago and was not impressed, especially given the price. Unless you absolutely cannot carry an extra 3 ounces in your hand, I suggest shopping around. I carry the BD Venom and love it. This obsession with going ultralight boggles my mind.

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This obsession with going ultralight boggles my mind.

 

All things equal, or at least within tolerance, why not?

 

My interest in this axe is actually more for strength than weight. My beat up aluminum-shafted Raven is light weight and flimsy... if I'm going to pack something lightweight, why not packing something lightweight and STRONG instead?

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I have no actual experience with this, but my impression is that titanium is bad at being sharp, so a titanium ax will make an excellent dead-man/anchor, but might be poor at climbing technical ice.

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Yeah, I realize my reply was probably less than entirely helpful - sorry. My experience with lighter axes is they generally don't swing worth a crap when you need them to, generally don't plunge well due to a lack of weight, and feel rather toyish. When I'm wanting to rely on a piece of gear to prevent me from dying, I want it to feel solid. I actually carry heavier axes (BD Venom) because they feel much more secure when climbing and are more versatile. I think the Venom is the perfect axe. That's just my opinion though, I'm sure someone has used the Ushba to climb WI7 upside down and loved it.

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I visualize the balance being really weird. With no real head weight, seems like the swing would need to be more of a whip crack than an axe swing, to get the pick into anything harder than neve

 

BUT.. this would just be my general purpose steep snow cane - not a technical tool. Tool it'd be replacing still has a factory sharp pick, if that tells you anything. If the pick ever gets used, it's in the form of high-dagger in firm snow, not swings.

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I haven't been able to locate one yet, in any condition or price... might not be a reality anymore. The Ushba site, which was operational as of at least a couple years ago, is now just a page indicating the company was bought out by Liberty Mountain, and there are no Ti climbing products for sale on the Lib Mountain site.

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One of my partners has one. Didn't feel very substantial but I wouldn't go so far as to say it felt unsafe. He generally only took it on long multi-day trips where weight was more of a concern. I never found it to be worth the money for the weight savings but if I found a good deal on one I'd be willing to use it. As others have said, I don't think it would swing well or hold a great edge but for basic self belay and arrest it would probably be fine.

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The Ushba TI weighs 12.5 ounces, there's a couple others at or below that but they don't have good spikes. The BD Raven Pro is at 14 oz

 

http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Ice-Axe-Reviews?n=0&sort_field=#compare

 

I've had an older Grivel Air-Tech for years, 13.8 oz. The spike isn't sharp and you have to really swing hard to stick hard water ice. But it's perfect for light occasional use.

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There was a discussion on Mountain Project about the ti axe with some similar comments that generally recognized that "yer gonna die!".

 

I see something super light as being a fairly specific tool that I'd be happy to add to my quiver too but probably not as a general axe. I'd be looking for something in the 12oz range for a ski mo axe, something I'll only be using for plunging or high dagger on snow soft enough that I'd be willing to ski back down it. I've often picked up some of the CAMP axes and wondered if the weight savings would be worth the cost.

 

For a general use axe I carry a Venom too and have a longer Raven that sometimes goes out but not much since I got the Venom. I commonly pair it up with a Whippet but the Whippet doesn't do much in the way of plunging and wouldn't be very reliable as a deadman.

Edited by Jason4

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Word. Just to reiterate, my desire is actually increase in strength for weight, not a decrease in weight.

 

I was going through my row of tools hanging in the closet last night, hefting each and looking at how they're made, how they've held up to what they've been through, remembering the trips they've been on and experiences I've had. I remembered a situation from just last spring where I was very glad for a nice heavy axe - I'd gone up for a quick run up Hood south side, took my 55cm Raven. I ended up having to chop steps for a guy who'd lost a crampon coming down icy slick snow from the Old Chute, and the Raven wasn't cutting it. I traded rescuee for his ancient 3lb 70cm ice axe, and was able to chop each icy step in two or three swings instead of the probably 7-10 swings each step took with the Raven.

 

I think one could take something from that.

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If your Raven otherwise satisfies your uses but is beat and showing signs of use/abuse perhaps it's reached the end of it's useful life and is simply due for replacement?

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I have two in my ice axe collection, purchased some 10-15 years ago new from the factory. The price even back then was  (by my reckoning) astronomical, but considering the fact that it was Russian 'state-of-the-art', fostered by development of a couple of Russia's more exotic fast-jet military aircraft) and as a 'compleat gearhead', I had to have some. It's a bit of an aesthetic disappointment from the design appeal standpoint but would certainly seem to be a strong asset on a steep slope (I once had a hickory-shafted Grivel that BROKE in two during a self-arrest on a steep slope in the Sierra Nevadas...that shook me up a bit; bought it from The North Face new and was a slight bit ...er, um...upset, shall we say?). I have one other Titanium axe in the same collection that was equally expensive but is certainly a much better-crafted example of the art.

Speaking of that collection of about 40 axes, it's up for grabs if anyone is interested. Contains many excellent (some new) vintage wood-shafted Swiss, German and French specimens, including at least three of the now-much-sought-after 'Willisch' Tasch-crafted axes such as carried by Mallory and Irvine on their fateful Everest assault in 1924. Also a WW2 10th Mtn Division ski troop US-issued specimen. Give me a shout if anyone is interested in more details.

 

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