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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Love it! If you don't make the best..spin it!

BD has now determined their picks are good for a single season of climbing.  Seriously!

"Under normal use (20 to 50 days per year), the lifespan of a pick on a Type T ice axe is 1 year. More frequent use or extreme climbing can reduce the lifespan of your ice tool. Some activities that would reduce its lifespan are hitting rocks, twisting the axe and pick, and drytool climbing on rock."

I have never even heard of a broken Petzl pick...bent ones sure.  Broken?  Nadda and I ask.

Love the broken Astro pick in the front of the video.  Had some of my Cold Thistle picks broken on the 4 banger as well.  So I have an idea what BD is doing here besides the obvious sales spin.   Convince your customers that poor quality gear is acceptable and it shouldn't last?  That is a new one for me.

More here:

We are promised a up coming crampon conversation as well.  That one will likely just "kill" us with the comedy and excuses.  And a year late.


Ian said...

What is the claimed service life of B and T rated picks from Grivel and Petzl?

James said...

BD are lucky I bought my Stingers before seeing this. Given their latest conduct I am rapidly going off Petzl and BD...

Steve Barratt said...

I know it doesn't matter much where you are, but for my own uses (UK, 60% mixed, 40% ice) the bd picks are my favourite. I've climbed on petzl, grivel and bd picks over the past three winters. The BD picks stayed sharper for longer. The only pick I managed to bend was a grivel evolution (and i was climbing like an idiot so it was largely my fault, plus its not designed for what i was using it for anyway).
I did (for me) a decent number of mixed routes with the bd B rated laser a and even with some very shallow thin torques they stayed good. More importantly for me they retained a decent sharpness - all day. For me this is important, its good to still have pics that are reasonably sharp after the first couple of rock impacts. Furthermore, its also nice not to be having to spend tons of time sharpening and reshaping the picks (plus working to pay for new ones), when you just want to get some sleep to get up the next morning for your next day out. I would say that I spent around 1/3 of the amount of evening time with a file in my hand when i was using BD, compared to grivel before and petzl i'm using now.
The petzl and grivel steel seems softer, i'm not metallurgist but I assume this is why they don't break, I remember reading a while back on here you discussing the more expensive super alloys. As low temps make stuff more brittle, would it be fair to say that picks break more in very cold climbing conditions? For my own uses, petzl and grivel picks are weaker because they deform more easily, as i don't think I'll actually be able to snap any pick here, I'd say BD are the strongest.
Controvesial chat for this blog Ii know! But, I know you've got a lot of readers outside of north america, from soggier climates, I thought I'd just pitch in this point of view.

Anonymous said...

I've been climbing a little over two years.

In my area most people are using Nomics, Quarks, Vipers, Cobras, Fusions, more or less in that order. There are also Grivel and other tools floating around.

I've never seen or heard of a broken Petzl, or Grivel, pick, including those abused from rental companies.

I've seen or talked to at least a dozen people who've broken BD picks.

BD's chart claims their picks are as strong or stronger than competitors. Anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise.

jerry said...

I started climbing with Dane in the mid 1970's (thanks Dane). I had never broken a pick except for one from a Chouinard bamboo axe in around perhaps the late 70's. In the last two years I broke two BD picks in pure ice - no twisting, no mixed. This year I almost fell when the knurled knob fell off a screw as I was placing it. BD customer service was a major pain in the ass about fixing/replacement and I finally just gave up.

Love my new Petzl tools. Enough said.

Karl Henize said...

The relationship between strength and toughness is somewhat complicated. However, in general, there is a tradeoff between strength and toughness.

Softer steels are more likely to bend and less likely to break in a brittle manner when subjected to high stresses.

The BD study only compares the fatigue resistance of the picks, which is not highly dependent on strength or toughness (i.e., resistance to brittle fracture). Fatigue resistance is primarily a function of the stress concentration at the crack tip due to applied or residual stresses.

From a design perspective, the fatigue resistance could be substantially improved by:

1. modifying the geometry of the pick to reduce the applied stress concentration at the normal crack initiation point, and/or

2. introducing compressive residual stresses at the normal crack initation point.

At lower loads, I would expect the results shown in the BD study.

If subjected to "maximum" load and torque after a fatigue crack had been initiated, I would expect the BD picks to fail earlier (in a brittle manner). With the available information, I can neither confirm nor deny this hypothesis.

I hope that you will find this information to be useful.

Disclaimer: I am a materials engineer by training and profession. However, I do not claim to have any special knowledge of the materials and manufacturing processes being used by each company.

Karl Henize said...

Adding to my previous comment, I think BD should address failure mechanisms other than pure fatigue in order to be more transparent with their customers.

David said...

So I read the article carefully. I climb on Petzl, but my usual partner uses BD equipment.
In the section where it says the lifespan is 1yr, they are showing excerpts from 4 different manufacturers, saying one of them is their own warning on lifespan, but not telling us which one.

The second warning down, the one that begins "certain extreme techniques..." is from petzl, I found it in my papers from them.
Is the first warning actually from Black Diamond themselves? Has anyone checked their BD manual for this wording or should we all be upset with another manufacturer that they've simply quoted without citing? None of the warnings sound terribly positive. Perhaps we should be upset with the state of industry for thinking that we'd rather shave 10 grams off the pick and need to replace it twice as often.

Anonymous said...

I found little connection between this testing and real world pick failures. See my detailed comments on the BD page.


Anonymous said...

Hey man, the wording of the BD article is weird but what they're trying to say is that an axe should last for 5-10 years (at 20-50 climbing days / year). That's a lot of use dude. Cost is about $0.50 / day / axe (250 days of use / $125 / axe).