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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Nomics? 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation?

Ally Swinton on a 15 hr ascent of the Colton- MacIntyre, GJ, 9-2011. photo courtesy of Dave Searle

The 1st gen Nomic and Cold Thistle hammers. Dbl click to get the full effect of Daves' photo.

Below Colin Haley photo of Bjørn-Eivind Årtun on their new route, Dracula, Mt Foraker, June 2010.

"The old Nomic and a pair of C-T hammers"

Up front...the old Nomic is every bit the equal for climbing difficult ground as the new Nomic.

No need to panic. (and that remains true)

Info on th current thiord generation Nomic is at the bottom of this article..which was first published last fall 2010.

Major change on the new Nomic? It is the new pommel that has a serrated stainless blade. It will add some stability on hard ice and can be used to give the pommel some stability as a cane on easy terrain. Better yet just use the top of the Astro or Dry pick while reversing the tool in that same easy terrain. Not suggested by Petzl but the new pommel can be retro fitted to the old Nomic. Just bolt it issues what so ever.

Biggest over all improvement? New pommel fits bigger hands and thicker gloves much, much better. But it can be bolted right on no fuss, no muss to the older tools if that is something you want to try. The new Pommel offers a tiny bit more support and more coverage and hand protection on the upward curve towards the ice. Maybe the most important improvement is a metal to metal interface where they mate up on the end of the shaft. BUT...the metal to metal female/male fittings have some slop in the mating surfaces so they move backwards and forwards a bit even when cranked down tight . That is not an improvement. You won't get every advantage of the size improvements for big hands using the new pommel on the old tools but a good bit of it. Worth buying that piece of kit and trying it on your old tools. It is an option now.

I don't like the serrated blade in some places on hard technical gets in the way during extreme rotation. I put the old pommel on my new Ergos because of it. But I do like having the option.

Hammer and adze? Yes you can add either the hammer or the adze designed for the new Quark to the Nomic. A small bit of round file or Dremel work to the tool head will allow you to fit the new Petzl hammer to the old style Nomic head. (see the detail photos below) But why would you? Needing a hammer is one thing, using the one Petzl made for the Quark is another. There is a better answer that is about to get even better shortly. That would be the Cold Thistle, 4mm, Nomic hammer. If it was not a LOT better than Petzl's offering I wouldn't bother making it. C-T hammers will also be much, much easier to change in the field using the newest Petzl picks or older style picks we cut for you. And the C-T hammer will fit the old and the new Nomic head with NO changes. Having it difficult to fit the hammer or change picks with the required spacer is a down side to the newest Petzl pick/hammer design. The new pick and spacer is truly a bitch to change in the field if the pair of Nomics I have here is any example.

C-T hammer info and pricing can be found in this link:

The new umbilical attachment? Good move on Petzl's part but if you want it to hold more than TOOL weight on your umbilicals you need to do a small mod on the newest Nomic's pommel. There isn't enough clearance between plastic and aluminum to get even 3mm cord through which you'll need to opened up for 4mm + cord. The hole Petzl drilled in my samples are 5.9mm. But these samples had some threads showing internally which will need to be taken out if you want to use 4 or 5mm cord there. The edges of the hole are well chambered on these but I would check that as well and do it if there is a sharp edge on either side of the shaft. Easy enough to drill out and chamfer the hole. I like 5mm cord there because you always know what the knot will do and it is easy to inspect cord for wear. Again easy to modify the older Nomic and now even easy enough to modify the new Nomic as well.

After cutting up the pommels on my first new set of Nomics I might modify these a bit different the next time around and cut up the grip a bit instead of going under the pommel. Looks like to me that you could now easily run a cord from the full strength hole in the handle and go behind the new smaller pommel. Done right it might be a better answer. I'm undecided at the moment. But the new tools are easy to cut with a Dremel or a round file where I used a vertical milling machine on the original Nomic's pommel. The best answer on the new tools is still a work in progress. What ever the answer the factory version isn't it for me.

New picks...DRY and ICE? Same materials, same heat treat, slightly different designs from the Astro and the Cascade. Still great picks...all still 3mm tips. Now rated as T picks instead of B picks. Little or no change in strength more likely just the label. Truly awesome picks, old or new!

Old picks fit new tools, new picks fit old tools. New picks require a spacer...which is a major PAIN to replace in the field. Buy the old Astro or Cascade if you need to carry spares and think you'll break or bend a pick or need to replace them on a climb. I like the original Cascade pick design on pure ice better FWIW. Either way buy the old picks because they are easier to replace and no spacer required if you aren't using a hammer.

Is it worth selling your old Nomic to get the new one? Obviously way in fact. Worth making a few mods on either tool to suit your own bet.

My old Nomic and umibilical about to pull a bulge on Curtain Call

Here are the details:

Tool weights:

old shaft 366g (+4g)

2nd gen. shaft 362g

3rd gen shaft  with 4mm steel insert 362g

pommel old 20g (-4g)

pommel 2nd gen (one tooth) 24g

pommel 3rd gen (2 teeth) 28g

old Cascade pick w/weight 188g (+8g)

new ICE pick w/weight 180g

Old Nomic is 8g heavier with the old pick design. Old Nomic is the same weight with the new "ICE" pick design.  3rd gen has gained 4g of that back with the new pommel.

8g = 1.4 oz.  4g= .7oz    Few, if anyone, will ever know the difference climbing on them .   Dbl click the pictures for the details where required.

The same change in the first tooth profile on the ICE and DRY pick can been seen when you compare an older Cascade to a new ICE here.

My appreciation to Daniel Harro for loaning me his new Nomics for this review :) But..... you'll need to get in line for the hammers!

The link below is worth a read as well.

More on the newest version.  Comparison photos are 1st gen and 3rd gen here.   Bigger umbilical hole is easily seen.  Teeth are now bigger and more square on the cut than the 2nd gen version.

The flip side of 1st gen and 3rd gen tools shown below with the pressed and swaged steel insert clearly visable.

Below is the 2nd gen pommel on the right and the newest version 3rd gen on the left.
Same thickness of tooth but bigger teeth over all and a second one added for security and durability. 

They look good to me!


Dan and Claire said...


Top post as ever. I've just received my oder of 'upgrades' for my 1st gen Nomics. They seem to have sent me 2nd gen pommels...are these safe with 1st gen axes?


Dane said...

Guys have been using the second gen pommels with 1st gen tools. But when they fail and they will, you'll wreck your shaft's end. Third generation pommels are less likely to when mating two steel teeth to the original shafts.

Dan and Claire said...

I had already installed the grip set (pommels) and tried them out on my training wall. I then removed them from the tools to see how the internals of the pommels look: Both pommels have cracks in the plastic bolt housing, this is from 30 minutes of actual climbing/training. Moral of the story make sure you get 3rd gen pommels from the shop. Really surprised that shops are still selling 2nd gen pommels with all these known problems...

Anonymous said...

I don't know where to put this post but here goes. Many (most?) of us are not super buff, super hard core climbers, but more like wanted to be in better shape, 15 lbs. overweight, the approach is worse than the climb..types. But we still want the edge if gear can make a difference. Perhaps you could put together a 1 pager that condenses all your posts with gear recommendations. Axe, boots, crampons, helmet, harness, screws, biners, inner-outer layer, headlamp, etc.


Dane said...

Hi Charlie...that would be some post. Here is my list of "best" for the winter of 2010/2011. May be that will help.

New one amost due for 2011/2012

Problem is this stuff does make a difference....3 months ago I was over weight (pre cancer diet) and trust me good gear does help but the gear changes quarterly these days and is always improving as the last glove blogs shows.

Anonymous said...

I just talked to James Good at Petzl and he told me that the Cascade picks will not fit the newest gen of Nomics....what gives?

Dane said...

"Cascade picks don't fit the new Nomic."

That is simply incorrect...they fit perfectly. But the Cascade picks will not accept a hammer or adze. They do how ever climb ice much better than the newest ICE picks.

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