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iceisnice


Feb 3, 2005, 3:49 PM
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I hope this doesn't get moved to another area cuz I'm mainly addressing alpine and ice climbers. Does anyone else feel that climbing has become too gear intensive? I guess I'm just wondering if there are other people out there who work harder on becoming good climbers, instead of getting the best gear possible to allow them to appear as good climbers. I realize that gear is necessary for many aspects of climbing, and I realize we all do it our own way..........but I seem to hear more people talk about how they could have done some better/harder had they had the "right gear". A good example has been my time spent in the Ouray ice park. I've heard people there talk more about tools than climbers. People will argue all day on which ice screw is the best, but who cares? We have it easy with the gear we use today and we still sit around and argue if the BD screw is better than the Grivel screw. Style seems to have taken a back seat, or at least it appears so. I guess that is what I'm trying to find out........are there any fellow "average climbers" who spend more time rising to the challenge of a climb than trying to figure out what gear will allow them to bypass that challenge for the sake of an ascent? Are there other people out there that like to put an element of risk back into climbs that have been made "safe" or "guarenteed" with the right gear? Many of the high level alpinists seem to have figured this out and I hold the utmost respect for them. I also have the most respect for climbers of the "Golden Era" of alpinism as they too relied more on their mental and physical capacities than on gear (more out of necessity as they didn't have much gear to choose from). I'm not saying we should all go back to wool knickers and hobnailed boots. Anyway, if you share similar fealings, please share your experiences and how they've made you a stronger climber/person. I'm sure there are others out there that feel the same, but I haven't run into any in a long time.


petsfed


Feb 3, 2005, 4:00 PM
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An old friend of mine said something profound to me the other day.

He said "I'm no Jack Roberts (his long time ice hero), if I wanna do harder climbs I need better tools"

Brook usually climbs with pulsars and sabertooths. And likes it. We have not yet reached the point in climbing ice where the overall tool you choose will not negatively affect your performance. However, we are nearing the "fit" stage of tool design, which is to say that the only improvement one can make to the tools will only fit one person, not another. Dig? We still bicker about shoes and carabiners in the dry part of the climbing world, why should ice be any different, especially at a venue where you can try each one?


iceisnice


Feb 3, 2005, 4:05 PM
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your friend pretty much proves my point......Jack Roberts IS amazing, but he's still human, which i'm sure your friend is too. NEEDS better tools to climb harder?.......no


timmy_t


Feb 3, 2005, 4:25 PM
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I have a great example for this one. Everyone remembers when Steve House dropped his overboot on the North Twin and just slapped a bunch of tape on his liner before throwing his crampon on it, right? Well, he made it out because he didn't use technology as a crutch to get up and back down (and because he is core). Technology will always make things more 'doable' and 'easier' but it really boils down to being self reliant, especially in the mountains where you can't carry enough junk unless you use crappy siege tactics. And also, as the saying goes "style matters." Take that one to heart too. I just soloed my first 5.10 today and could have reached past a 9+ section right before the anchors to grab the rope and rap, but I knew that I would have regretted it for a long time. Style matters, everyone knows what is good and poor style, and I will sleep much easier tonight knowing I knew where my line was.


vashie


Feb 3, 2005, 4:32 PM
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I agree with you Ray. Hell you've seen my X-15's, and I still managed to pull off WI4 with them. I doubt some miracle new ice tools will let me start climbing WI5 just like that. Save my fingers perhaps, but it'll take more work on my behalf.


sandbag


Feb 3, 2005, 4:38 PM
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Ive got Pulsars, and was climbing all last weekend in OUray with old BD screws without the speed grinders...did just fine. I actually didnt like the leashless tools i was allowed to try from my partner, go figure. I guess im an anchronistic climber, but i climbed WI5 Ice and hooked and hung and scratched my way to the top nary a fall cept when i used them fancy dealios....technique is always better than gadegtry, period. But i can see the improvements and understand what why and where they make a difference too.
And i saw the larger % of the people that were climbing hard schitt were leashed....


sandbag


Feb 3, 2005, 4:39 PM
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Ive got Pulsars, and was climbing all last weekend in OUray with old BD screws without the speed grinders...did just fine. I actually didnt like the leashless tools i was allowed to try from my partner, go figure. I guess im an anachronistic climber, but i climbed WI5 Ice and hooked and hung and scratched my way to the top nary a fall cept when i used them fancy dealios....technique is always better than gadegtry, period. But i can see the improvements and understand what why and where they make a difference too.
And i saw the larger % of the people that were climbing hard schitt were leashed....


cryder


Feb 3, 2005, 4:50 PM
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Good topic.

Another sport I used to pursue (cycling) struggled with the same crisis of technology verses soul. It started with Aero bars and Greg LeMond's tour win in the time trail. It evolved into bikes that did not look at all like bikes and provoked a long internal battle within the sport as some of the romance of athleticism was challenged by technological advantages. In the end, the governing body (something distinctly absent from climbing...) stepped in and forbid certain forms of technology from the racing scene because they felt it was erroding the essence of the sport. The irony was the all the while a obese white elephant called doping was allowed to live in cycling's closet until a certain incident in the 98 TDF had international repercusions that made the tech dispute seem rather silly.

I read in an old book of Chris Bonington's (The Next Horizon) last night as he bemoned the advent of wired nuts in the early 60's because they took some of stout nature out of those early sends where they would use small stones wedges (carried in their pockets) tied off with a 1000lb max load sling. He did the FA on the Central Tower of Paine with that stuff. :shock:

My take? Learn to advance technolgy with a foundation of soul. And remember that it's easier to kill white rats before they become white elephants.


Partner euroford


Feb 3, 2005, 4:54 PM
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when down on flat ground, gear is a good conversation topic, and sadly being a weekend warrior i have more than enough time to spend talking about it. being less than superhuman financially i also have to suss things out to make good choices.

becouse of good choices in gear, i've never been let down by it. i leave the being let down part of climbing to the weather, my planning, my strength and my fear.

to win at this game you have to have your thumb on all the pieces of the puzzle, including gear, and i'm sure the top climbers are just as if not more concerned about this than i am. of course, the articles in Alpinist usually leave out the part about (insert badass alpinist name hear) spending countless hours sitting on the can with the mountain gear catalog prior to sending his brutal FA on (insert nasty and remote mountain name here).

in the end its about what your head and body can do, but only a fool would discount the importance of your toolchest.


iceisnice


Feb 3, 2005, 5:02 PM
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that's very interesting about the problem in cycling. is there more information on that situation and how it was resolved. that would be some interesting reading.

i'm not a fool. by its very nature climbing will require gear of some kind at some point. especially ice climbing. that is not my point....far from it. i'm not looking to bash those who have chosen gear to pull them through a crux. i don't really care. as i keep saying......to each his own. i'm more interested in hearing from those who have challenged that evil beast called fear with their mind, not their toolbox. i truly hope you don't think that i believe the elite climbers are not using gear, or something like that. but when you hear them talk about a climb, they talk about style and rising to the challenge, not about how their sweet radically curved tools saved their a!@#.


petsfed


Feb 3, 2005, 5:06 PM
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your friend pretty much proves my point......Jack Roberts IS amazing, but he's still human, which i'm sure your friend is too. NEEDS better tools to climb harder?.......no

My real point is that rather than take the time to become a better climber, he's just going to get better tools. At this stage in the game, the variance in tool design still allows for that. As soon as we hit the point where one tool isn't better than any other, we'll hit a point where the climbing, and not the tools latched to us (or unlatched as the case may be), define the real difficulty.


slavetogravity


Feb 3, 2005, 6:27 PM
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Personally, if there’s one thing that I find as being a personal annoyance its superfluous gear. Now what you call superfluous is only relative. But there’s noting I find more satisfying then topping out on lead and only to have enough gear to build the anchor. Nothing more, nothing less, and all the gear bellow me, in use. Some people I climb with can’t stand the thought of being unprepared for some unseen situation. Consequently they insist on carrying everything but the kitchen sink with them when they climb.
I once recall encountering a party of two guys on Dark Shadows Falling, a popular 3 pitch 5.8 at Red Rocks. Between the two of them (and this is not an exaggeration) They had 2 sets of nuts, A full set of wild country friends to 3 inches, a full set of fixed stem wild country friends to 3 inches, a full set of Aliens, God knows how many draws, about 20 metres of webbing daisy chained off the back of their harness hanging down 4 feet. Miscellaneous beiners, cord, belay devices, and about 10 sewn spectra slings slung over their shoulders. Despite all this gear they couldn’t make it past the second pitch and had to bail. I couldn’t help but think it was the weight of all that gear that prevented the leader from pulling the crux. In retrospect I should have proposed that they just pile up all their gear at the base, climb to the top of the pile and clip the anchors at the top of pitch 3.


rendog


Feb 3, 2005, 6:29 PM
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Well for me when i first started the sport of ice climbing I had a straight shaft Rambo axe and a straight shaft Stubai. the rambo was ok, but let me tell you the stubai sucked major butt. I had to chop a hole the size of a canyon to get the axe to sick. that and using bash in SNARGS on the sharp end made for a very difficult trial for ice climbing.

afterwards I went out and got a pair of Lucky's used them twice and promtly had them stolen form me, so back to the old tools i went. Then in '99 I went out and got a pair of Cobras. it was like going from a moped to a Lambourgini. I felt confident on lead like I'd never felt before. Now after a few years using those tools, I realized that the tools didn't make me climb better, it was my confidence in using them.

I still get freaked out on climbs, but there is no way in hell it's my gear that gets me out...directly that is. My ability in keeping my head together wehn i'm in a tricky spot, and the confidence in knowing what my tools are capable of withstanding in the ways of punishment, and knowing what my physical limits are is what gets me safe on a dangerous (or even easy as it sometimes happens) climb.

Bottom line in my mind is no matter what type of gear you use...if you have faith in what they are capable of withstanding, then you should be able to use them to the fullest extent of design limits. be that a Solo of the North Buttress of (gnarly MT) or a mellow day of TRing at the local ice crag.


johnhemlock


Feb 3, 2005, 6:39 PM
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As more gym and sport climbers move into the mountains in winter, I think you will continue to see an erosion in what you understand as “style” as it applies to ice climbing. Most of these folks aren’t concerned with the history or future of alpinism, and the “Golden Age” started whenever they first swung a tool. They are out for the same things as the rest of us – good times with friends in the hills – but they are evolving from a different place.

I’m not much better on ice than I was when I started ten years ago living in Bozeman, which I suppose doesn’t say much for my learning curve. Too many long layoffs, banishment to ice-free locations, etc. I have owned 2 sets of tools in that time, both of them the nicest on the market at the time I bought them, and never gave tools another thought. Style is important to me (although I put on a “French-free” clinic in the Alps last month) but I don’t pretend to be it’s sole interpreter.

The old schoolers didn’t give much thought to gear stuff but they didn’t have websites and gear cooperatives and glossy magazines pimping the merchandise, either. The “Golden Age” was a nationalistic time and its best climbers were sponsored or allowed to practice their craft without distraction. I love reading about Heckmair riding his bicycle from the Dolomites to Chamonix and sleeping in haystacks in order to climb. His commitment was totally without compromise, just as yours is today. But I think there is room for those whose commitment is lesser, or even more about the look than the life.


jimdavis


Feb 3, 2005, 6:42 PM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
your friend pretty much proves my point......Jack Roberts IS amazing, but he's still human, which i'm sure your friend is too. NEEDS better tools to climb harder?.......no

My real point is that rather than take the time to become a better climber, he's just going to get better tools. At this stage in the game, the variance in tool design still allows for that. As soon as we hit the point where one tool isn't better than any other, we'll hit a point where the climbing, and not the tools latched to us (or unlatched as the case may be), define the real difficulty.

I dunno, I think the gear you bring is very important. People's style, comfort, and budget, will all effect what gear they have; but we still NEED our gear to climb.

I'm sure the OP was looking for opinions of those that use heel spurs, leashless tools, and mono points...so:

Pure technical ice climbing, and mixed climbing is still a new sport. It's background may be routed in Alpine ascents, but it's now been transformed into road-cut cragging, overhanging dry-tooling, and other-wise new aspects of the sport. I think the equipment we use is still evolving to perform for these circumstances.

We use gear that suites our style. Many of the alpine climbers I know, use Sabertooths or G12's, and predominatly alpine tools. I'm not into the Alpine ice thing, so I have leashless tools and mono's.

I think it just boils down to preferences, style, and ethics. Leashes, heel-spurs, turbo screws, ect all go here. It's up to the indivigual to decide what's for them.

Cheers,
Jim


fishbelly


Feb 3, 2005, 7:17 PM
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Better tools maycover up some poor tehnique. Good technique can do more for you than anything


iceisnice


Feb 3, 2005, 7:30 PM
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petsfed, that may have come off as harsh on my part (my friends say i'm too blunt sometimes). i am in no way critisizing you or your friend. i come from a different mindset than that. so it seems like you are saying you (meaning you or your friend) feel like the new gear will allow you to progress to a certain level and then after that it will take skill and technique? i've always been of the opinion that skill and technique should be developed first. of course, at what point do you decide that your skill can no longer advance and you need the crutch of some new piece of equipement to move you forward. don't get me wrong, i don't go soloing in bare feet.....i don't use straight shaft tools with classic curved picks........
I guess i'm more interested in the mindset that people have when they wish to pursue advancements in their climbing grade. do you first buy the best piece of gear thinking "this will let me finally do that WI5 climb", or do you find yourself once in a while thinking "i couldn't have done that WI5 climb without a tool like that". both thoughts seem self limiting, but the later acknowledges your (our) own weakness. which to me, would make you a stronger person.


petsfed


Feb 3, 2005, 7:45 PM
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Don't think I'm offended, I'm not. I made the same case to him.

Actually, the topic came up when I was looking at getting my first set of tools and I made some passing reference to his pulsars. He got those things ages ago. Anyway, his goals are such that he wants to get to the point where he can camp out at a high grade and then improve his technique. He really feels like his tools are holding him back. I can't really comment because I don't spend anywhere near as much time as he does with sharp things attached to my person. And to be realistic, his primary improvement in climbing ice in the last three years has been a mental one and not a physical one. He's not technically any better of a climber, he just has a better grip of himself in sketchy situations.


iceisnice


Feb 3, 2005, 7:48 PM
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also, this thread has trended towards ice climbing which, by its nature, is VERY gear intensive. what are people's experiences in the alpine setting? i'm really interested in hearing if people have willingly put themselves at more risk/committment by not using the latest gear, or not using gear at all, in order to maintain a level of style and what their outcomes were. and i don't mean success vs failure. i mean do you find you've gained more about yourself and your abilities, or do you feel you've risk foolishy with no benefit?


rendog


Feb 3, 2005, 8:35 PM
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Hey Ray

I had climbed Mt. Victoria in Lake Louise a few years ago, and i tried it in a different style than my partner. Chris was using both of his ice axes and all that stuff. He climbed very well that day and truth be told he wupped my ass.

BUT...I decided to use 1 single Mountaineering axe, granted I had crampons on, but i still chopped many many steps up the steeper ice sections. I had clothes on that were suited more for going sledding than being out in the mts (I had full Gore at home, but chose to leave it there).

I did this for a reason. I wanted to feel as if I'd climbed that mountain, if you know what I mean. Chris and I could've done that show in about 12 hrs car to car if i wasn't so far behind him...we did do it in just around 16 as it were; but when i came down from there I truly felt like it was me and my ability not me and my good gear that got me up and back again.


scarpenter


Feb 3, 2005, 11:59 PM
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I'm not sure what makes some people so gear obsessed, that they feel they can't live without the best new widgets. The thing is, I'm an engineering student and love pouring over gear designs and reviews and whatnot. I love gear! I just don't like to feel dependent on it.

I'm new to the alpine scene, I guess (started as a kid, got into other things), but I've been climbing my whole life. I like my rock shoes, but for me a great deal of enjoyment can be added by climbing with footwear not suited for that use. I really enjoyed my old Vans skate shoes, and yesterday I went climbing in running shoes.

Style should matter more to people, but I guess it doesn't. When I start a new hobby/sport/whatever I like to read about it and see what the most hard-core purists are doing, because those are the people to look up to. Since most people now learn to "rock" climb on plastic, the people they look up to are the ripped dud(ette)s that get all the hotties staring at them.

I'm not sure where I'm going with all this - the sleepy rambles are taking affect, but there are some more cycling analogies worth noting. First, I'm not going to talk about "cycling" - I'm going to talk about mountain biking :) Ten plus years or so ago when mt. bike racing boomed and everybody was buying bikes, there wasn't much technology available to consumers. Riding rigid bikes was holding people back (think straight tools or 10 points) - then suspension became available and downhill racing became more popular. It was found that having suspension actually taught people to ride better. Ten years later, suspension has gone from 1.5" travel to 8" big hit bikes, and people are launching themselves off cliffs instead of just riding over logs. Now, the cross-country racers are still using hard-tail bikes and >4" suspension forks, because they are lighter and more effecient, and thus faster. Meanwhile, your average recreational mt. biker has 4" plus front and rear suspension, and there is a growing discontent against the racing community because the pro athletes aren't riding anything like what a normal person would ride! Take what you can from that, I just thought it was interesting.

Back to climbing, I see people come into my store all the time looking for the greatest new gear, because they are going to go climb Mt. Rainier. "I need plastic boots, and..." :roll: I had the opportunity to get Koflach plastic double boots for $5 and chose to use something else, even if I had to really pay for it. Sure they weren't fun to walk in, but I knew that every route on Rainier was first climbed (and many of the repeats) by guys in leather boots with wood handled ice axes and wool clothing.

The real skill in anything comes from doing more with less. After riding a full suspension bike for a few years and getting pretty good with it, I went back to a rigid bike because it was cheaper and more fun. I push my climbing limits in rock shoes, but like to see what I can climb wearing boots or street shoes. I got into 4x4s at some point, too, and kept pushing what I could do as a driver, tackling trails that only people with more built rigs were doing. (Always Tread Lightly!)

Please excuse all this nonsense, if that's what it comes down to. When I'm awake maybe I'll have to edit this down to just "The real skill in anything comes from doing more with less." Until then, hopefully I've added something useful to someone.


akclimber


Feb 4, 2005, 1:53 AM
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I get what you are saying. I like to take what I have and push it. See what it is made of. (Also find out what I am made of) :oops:


tradmanclimbs


Feb 4, 2005, 4:40 AM
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Ice climbing is gear intensive so don't be so fucking up tight about it. there is no need to climb with shitty gear just to prove that you are a bad ass. The new toolz save your knuckles and the new screws and screamers save your ass if something goes wrong. If one of my partners showed up with aincent crap just to prove a point and was slow as $hit because of it I would be finding a new partner ASAP. Freeze your a$$ off on you own time but not on mine. I did enough freezeing 20+ freaking years ago. I see George Hurly out there with Quarks. he does carry an ancient hammer as a3rd tool and some old ratty looking rock gear but he looks extremly styling cruising up Dracula with them fancy Quarks. Quit you Fkn whining and go climbing :twisted:


sidepull


Feb 4, 2005, 6:35 AM
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http://www.patagonia.com/design/on_tools.shtml


cryder


Feb 4, 2005, 7:40 AM
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what are people's experiences in the alpine setting? i'm really interested in hearing if people have willingly put themselves at more risk/committment by not using the latest gear, or not using gear at all, in order to maintain a level of style and what their outcomes were. and i don't mean success vs failure. i mean do you find you've gained more about yourself and your abilities, or do you feel you've risk foolishy with no benefit?

My style in the alpine is simple: I am there for the experience. That means the approach counts, the climb counts, and the people I climb with (or lack there of) count. If it inriches the experience, I am goaled towards that. If it counts towards safety, I will go hitech everytime. Sometimes good gear allows me to experience more. More speed, more mountains, more climbing, and that enriches the experience.

Granted, I am motivated to some degree by wether a line goes or not. But overall its about how I feel when the day(s) is done and its now just a memory as I drive back to domesticity.

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Forums : Climbing Disciplines : Alpine & Ice

 


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