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Light ax for High Sierra rock trips?
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sspssp


Dec 13, 2005, 12:59 PM
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Light ax for High Sierra rock trips?
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I'm looking to get a light weight ice ax to take on alpine Sierra rock climbing trips. I'm not planning on using it on long, technical snow climbs. Something for the short snow approaches you find below the rock cliffs, such as the approach to Sun Ribbon Arete on Temple Crag and the semi-snowy descents you might find earlier in the season. I have an old [heavy] full size glacier ax. I'm looking for something much lighter and I'm willing to trade some functionality to get it. So that when I have one of those, "gee, do I really need to lug this back there" debates, I'll be more inclined to actually take it. (Which means I get to do the route instead of chickening out because of the snow.) If the approach/route turns out to require more technical gear, I would bail to something else. But this might not be an opton for the descents.

So anyone have recommendations and what the various tradeoffs are? Any other suggestions for dealing with short sections of semi-technical snow on approach? I already have light, 6 point crampoons in mind. Do the treking poles with the small, ice ax attachment help any or are you just kidding yourself with those?


iceisnice


Dec 13, 2005, 1:33 PM
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use a sharp rock you can find at the base. i do it all the time and it works great.


davidji


Dec 13, 2005, 1:37 PM
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use a sharp rock you can find at the base. i do it all the time and it works great.
A nut tool often works really well.


Partner euroford


Dec 13, 2005, 2:13 PM
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use a sharp rock you can find at the base. i do it all the time and it works great.

having been in the situation you describe, and having tried the suggestion above; i think i'm going to be picking up one of the new BD Raven Ultra's for next season, and maybe some aluminum strap-on pons as well.


climbingaggie03


Dec 13, 2005, 2:31 PM
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I haven't used one of those ice axe on a trekking pole contraptions, so I don't know about that, but I say get the BD Raven Pro, or the Ultra, they only weigh 11-12 ounces, They are fully functional, and They are the most comfortable tools to hold in self belay/self arrest grip.


tomtom


Dec 14, 2005, 2:12 PM
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Re: Light ax for High Sierra rock trips? [In reply to]
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I have a BD Raven Pro. I've used it for alpine and glacial ice and it works reasonably well.


sspssp


Dec 14, 2005, 2:27 PM
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So is there much functional difference between the BD pro and the ultra? Anyone have comments on the tradeoff?


sspssp


Dec 14, 2005, 2:41 PM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
use a sharp rock you can find at the base. i do it all the time and it works great.
A nut tool often works really well.

I have an occasional parnter who swears by rigid stem Friends. But I'm also looking for something a little more secure.


bones


Dec 14, 2005, 3:53 PM
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I brought my BD Raven to do Sun Ribbon Arete one August. The snow was pretty hard in the morning and we probably would have needed crampons to climb it, but we found a way to skirt around the snow up some loose 3rd class rock to the start of the route. Having our axes with us just in-case, we decided we didn't really want to carry them up the rest of the route. I tied the axes together, threw them onto the ice in the hopes that they would slide down to the base, but instead watched them skid across to the other side of the couloir and fall into a moat about 100 feet from the base. Shit! There goes about $120 worth of gear.
On the descent, which takes you back by the base of the route, I decided that the loss of two axes was too big a bullet to bite. Using a my nut tool in one hand and a sharp rock in the other, I climbed up the now soft(er) snow in my even softer hiking boots, into the icy moat, and back down using the axes. Thought I was going to eat it once in one of the more icy sections, but pulled through okay.

Lessons learned: 1. Don't throw your axes into a moat... they're hard to get back. 2. A nut tool/rock does work in a pinch, but its not much fun.


josephgdawson


Dec 14, 2005, 4:00 PM
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Re: Light ax for High Sierra rock trips? [In reply to]
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I have a BD Raven Pro, and I like it. It is one of the lightest weight axes on the market. I think Petzl makes and ax now that is a couple of grams lighter. My only complaint about the BD ax is the diamond that is cut on the back of the adze. It basically creates a hole in the thing that a lot of snow escapes through when you are digging with it. So, it takes a little longer to dig a T trench or a flat spot on a slope.

Whatever you get, just get the lightest weight one you can possibly afford, if you dont, you will regret later.


tempestwind


Dec 17, 2005, 7:23 PM
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Re: Light ax for High Sierra rock trips? [In reply to]
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In reply to:
I brought my BD Raven to do Sun Ribbon Arete one August. The snow was pretty hard in the morning and we probably would have needed crampons to climb it, but we found a way to skirt around the snow up some loose 3rd class rock to the start of the route. Having our axes with us just in-case, we decided we didn't really want to carry them up the rest of the route. I tied the axes together, threw them onto the ice in the hopes that they would slide down to the base, but instead watched them skid across to the other side of the couloir and fall into a moat about 100 feet from the base. s---! There goes about $120 worth of gear.
On the descent, which takes you back by the base of the route, I decided that the loss of two axes was too big a bullet to bite. Using a my nut tool in one hand and a sharp rock in the other, I climbed up the now soft(er) snow in my even softer hiking boots, into the icy moat, and back down using the axes. Thought I was going to eat it once in one of the more icy sections, but pulled through okay.

Lessons learned: 1. Don't throw your axes into a moat... they're hard to get back. 2. A nut tool/rock does work in a pinch, but its not much fun.


:? Hmm-mmmm...If there was one thing I had to keep ..It would be my ice axe..


urbansherpa


Dec 19, 2005, 4:35 AM
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Take the baskets off your poles for self-belay.

I have a BD Raven (not the PRO) and it is very comfortable. The PRO actually felt too light when I swung it, (being used to heavier ice tools)although it does get excellent reviews.
The Raven PRO has a smaller head than the Raven.

-Karl


tempestwind


Dec 20, 2005, 10:37 PM
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Take the baskets off your poles for self-belay.

I have a BD Raven (not the PRO) and it is very comfortable. The PRO actually felt too light when I swung it, (being used to heavier ice tools)although it does get excellent reviews.
The Raven PRO has a smaller head than the Raven.

-Karl

Yes this is soo true..I am heading up the Sierras in Jan.I will be using the Raven Pro.I had the regular BD Raven it worked like a tank..I am wondering about this Bd Pro as well..but I am confident it will work.


punk_rocker333


Dec 21, 2005, 12:07 AM
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Cheap and light. This would be a decent axe for the type of terrain you discussed.

http://www.acmeclimbing.com/...=VIEWPROD&ProdID=148


rossgoddard


Dec 21, 2005, 4:56 PM
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bd whippets (trekking pole attachments) are sweet. I used them extensivley on Mt. Shasta this summer on 4 routes, w/ snow up to 45-50 degrees. not the smartest idea, but one in each hand allows me to do the piolet panne thing, inspiring a bunch of confidence.
for my piolet, i have a grivel air tech racing. its light, similar to the raven ultra. its made for what you discribe- short,"maybe i'll need it" snow, and light and really fast alpine climbs. bring it to Denali, and you'll find trouble.
-H


sspssp


Dec 22, 2005, 11:24 AM
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bd whippets (trekking pole attachments) are sweet.

The whippet is one of the ski pole/pick things I had in mind and I wondered how well it worked. However, after looking at it a little more closely. If I understand correctly, it weighs 10.6 oz and this is on top of the weight of the 1lb 5oz ski pole? And the whippet cannot be used with the lighter, carbon, ski pole?

So the ski pole whippet combo is 2 lbs? If you want to carry a ski pole anyway, I guess it might make sense. But the 10.6 oz for the whippet is the same weight as the BD ultra ice ax. So even though I usually carry an ultra light carbon trecking pole into the high country, carrying this plus the ultra is still lighter than just the BD ski pole and whippet. This seems strange. So I've decided that even if the whippet if functional enough, there wouldn't be a weight savings.

Is there any lighter combo of treking pole/pick than the one BD offers?

Also, I throw out again, anyone have a specific recommendation of the BD Raven Pro vs the Ultra. The weight is similar. Is the only difference the bottom and the rubber handle?

thanks for all the comments so far...


rossgoddard


Dec 22, 2005, 11:29 AM
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i dont know if they work on the new BD poles, but the published weights are misleading. whippets are attached to a top section of pole that you slip onto the other two. so the weight you are working with is a BD pole, whippet, and extra top sxection (which is the heaviest), not a bd pole-top section+ whippet
the actual weight should be 4-6 oz less
i dont know if i made any sense...


sspssp


Dec 26, 2005, 10:33 AM
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Ok, I am still researching this. I stumbled across the Cassin Ice ghost that is listed as 200g (7~8 oz!) for the shortest size. Anybody have any useful comments on this one?

As another aside: I just finished reading the latest edition of Accidents in North American Mountaineering and one of the stories involved a failed rap anchor during an alpine descent. The individual involved stated that he is never going into the mountains again without a few pitons for emergency rap use. So my quesiton is, on a one-off basis, would it be practical to pound a pin in with a light weight ice ax with an adze? I know you can get ice axes with hammers, but these tend to be for the steep/technical terrain (by the way, what is it like trying to self-arrest with a technical ice ax?) and the adze could be useful for chopping steps or softer snow where the pick wouldn't purchase.


sixleggedinsect


Jan 1, 2006, 6:55 AM
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I'm looking to get a light weight ice ax to take on alpine Sierra rock climbing trips. So anyone have recommendations and what the various tradeoffs are?

i used the Camp ultralight axe for a month in the bigs and winds this summer. it is so light i cant take it seriously, and figured id destroy it by the end of the trip, but it keeps on ticking. as long as you treat it right i think ill be using it the nexxt few decades.

ive played with the name brand ultralight options and woudlnt switch over.

i cant remember the name of the camp ultralgiht (they make a huge range of light axes) but i think it was something like xla 210. 210 for 210 grams, and i believe it.

i also like their ultralight al crampons, but havent tried others, and cant recommend them quite as heartily.


sspssp


Jan 3, 2006, 9:25 AM
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i used the Camp ultralight axe for a month in the bigs and winds this summer. it is so light i cant take it seriously, and figured id destroy it by the end of the trip, but it keeps on ticking. as long as you treat it right i think ill be using it the nexxt few decades.

ive played with the name brand ultralight options and woudlnt switch over.
...
i also like their ultralight al crampons, but havent tried others, and cant recommend them quite as heartily.

I didn't immediately find it with a web search (and the Camp web site was "under construction"). Did you think the name brand ultralights were inferior, or just didn't add anything for the extra money? It sounds like the camp is very similar in weight to the Cassin.

I was planning on getting the Camp ultralight crampons. I realize that they will be damaged easily (no walking on rock), but was there something you thought was deficient, or is it just that you don't have experience with other brands and can't make a comparison?

Thanks for the info.


dr_monkey


Jan 3, 2006, 10:15 AM
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To check out Camp's website go to http://www.camp-usa.com. I had the same trouble trying to find the site but it is only the international site that is under construction. I just checked this one and it is up.

DRS


sixleggedinsect


Jan 3, 2006, 11:12 AM
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I didn't immediately find it with a web search (and the Camp web site was "under construction"). Did you think the name brand ultralights were inferior, or just didn't add anything for the extra money? It sounds like the camp is very similar in weight to the Cassin.

howdy. heres a link to one page with the camp axe i have

http://www.backcountrygear.com/catalog/climbdetail.cfm/cmp400

i have no idea whether these folks have it in stock, but at least you see what im talking about. im sure its out there somewhere.

anyways, in reference to your questions: the name brand light axes are certainly not inferior in terms of quality. they are only inferior in terms of weight, at least when i bought the axe. petzl and bd and the rest of them may now make a lighter axe, but the camp model may still be superior in terms of quality&weight/price.

remember to compare like with like. for instance, a lightweight axe from one company may have a steel head compared to camp's aluminum. so it weighs more but swings better, or lasts longer, etc.

In reply to:
I was planning on getting the Camp ultralight crampons. I realize that they will be damaged easily (no walking on rock), but was there something you thought was deficient, or is it just that you don't have experience with other brands and can't make a comparison?

i did, actually, do a fair bit of walking on rock. no marathons, but sometimes you just have to if you want to make good time between stretches of snow. however, it doesnt matter much if you're not particularly aggressive. it is a problem if you want to keep your points sharp, but that sort of thing shouldnt matter if youre using lightweight crampons. ie: the terrain should be mellow enough that you dont need razors on your feet. i never sharpened my points, and they look pretty mcuh the same as when i bought them, but i digress.

my problem with them is that i worry about their durability. my partner and i both were using the lightweight strap on model over tennis shoes(i think it had the number 490 in the model name, as in 490g, a few less for the clip in models). halfway up a glacier, he broke the bar joining the front and rear plates and we had to spend a little while jerry-rigging it with a scrap of parachute cord. it wasnt catastrophic, but woudl have been a real downer on a bigger expedition or where the stakes were higher. camp is sending him a new one for free, but still. i also wonder about the rivets that hold the plastic strap-on pieces on. never trusted rivets that move around completely, but then- neither of us had problems with them, so perhaps im being paranoid.

they would be perfect crampons for me if the middle bar was made of thin steel or titanium instead of aluminum. much more durable in terms of the wear crampons get.

all in all, i like them though. have no plans to replace them. i jsut havnt used anything else and couldnt make any comparisons with other products.

anthony


brutusofwyde


Jan 3, 2006, 1:40 PM
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You could try this system:

http://www.summitpost.org/mountains/photo_link.pl?photo_id=127164&object_id=4109&type=mountain&mountain_id=4109&route_id=

Alternately, the afore-mentioned Camp sells adjustable 6-point aluminum crampons, lighter than any ice axe, and far lighter than any full 10 or 12 point crampons. I use these on glacier approaches in the Bugaboos.

at 216 grams a pair, in the Sierra they usually provide enough security that you can leave the axe in the car:

http://www.camp-usa.com/module/product/detail.asp?ID=184

For some Sierra approaches, I sometimes use the "poor-man's traction" dating back to felt-soled boots in the early alps: Go up the snow in wool socks.

Another option in addition to these (on Sun Ribbon for example) is to kick steps up the approach snow in the afternoon, when the snow is soft, providing a secure and frozen ladder of steps the next morning.

Brutus


xp


Jan 3, 2006, 1:48 PM
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As far as I know, you are not supposed to wear crampons that are more flexible than your shoe sole. So with tennis shoes or most non-mountaineering boots you'd want to have completely flexible crampons. The 490s are described as semi-rigid. I had scary times on a steep glacier with my semi-rigid steel Grivels and boots that could flex the toe at about 45 degrees rel to the rest of the sole.


brutusofwyde


Jan 3, 2006, 1:50 PM
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So my quesiton is, on a one-off basis, would it be practical to pound a pin in with a light weight ice ax with an adze? I know you can get ice axes with hammers, but these tend to be for the steep/technical terrain (by the way, what is it like trying to self-arrest with a technical ice ax?) and the adze could be useful for chopping steps or softer snow where the pick wouldn't purchase.

The axe or a rock. Personally I wouldn't take pins unless I'm taking a hammer. And I don't take a hammer unless the route requires pins (or drilling, if on an FA or rebolting). If the route goes clean, I have no problems leaving clean gear behind for bail anchors. So why take pins on clean routes again??

Brutus

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