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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Friday, December 20, 2013

Your new Ice tool selection?

1973 Terro and a 2008 Nomic
The linage should be obvious

From the very first post here at Cold Thistle I have been hesitant to suggest any one ice tool is better than the next.  Took me 10 months to enter the discussion the first year.  The result is linked below.  I still think it all applies to the conversation today.

But I still don't generally recommend a specific ice tool on Cold Thistle.  Not because I don't have a preference.  I do, indeed!   But I am also aware that most of my own decision/choice is nothing more than personal preference.  I could just as likely base that choice on the paint job and cosmetics and then tell you why the tool is better by design.  And be just as accurate.

I have climbed on almost all of the modern technical tools made in the last 5 or 6 years.  Certainly climbed on and generally owned all the most easily available tools currently.   And a good majority of the ice tool designs produced in the last several decades.   So yes I am aware of what is available and I am aware of the nuances between them.  Compared to what we had available in previous generations of ice tools, there really aren't any "bad" tools these days.

Picks, handles, balance and technique required might change a tiny bit but it isn't really as much or  a big change in performance as you might first think. 

An example is the BD green Fusion.  And I could just as easily have this same conversation comparing any other two technical tools available today.

I've climbed M7/8 and WI6 with a Fusion.   Doubt I have/could climb anything harder no matter the tool choice.  I felt secure and happy with a Fusion on that kind of terrain.  But I "feel more comfortable" on difficult terrain using a Nomic or Ergo.  Likely because I have used them more/longer.   The Fusion is not my favorite tool or my least favorite.   Always happy to climb on them however.   DreamX and Camp tools are solid tools.  As are any of the Grivel tools.  People have bitched (myself included) that a Fusion could climb ice better.   Really most of what I climb is just ice...easy ice at that.   Eventually BD offered a "ice" specific pick for the Fusion.  Most Fusion users simply adopted their technique a bit to climb ice better/easier early on.  For a skilled user the ice "issue" just isn't an issue.  To be honest I could have changed my own technique to use the Fusion with less effort on ice.  Just didn't care to make the effort.  I don't climb hard enough to worry about it.  I simply found I liked the Nomic more  (it is black after all;-)  and I am lazy.  I really didn't want to change my climbing technique.  No because I am awesome or couldn't/shouldn't improve.  As I said I am lazy.  Simple as that.   I don't climb hard enough to require the small change in technique where a Fusion would have a small advantage over a Nomic.   The tool I choose isn't going to make a difference if I succeed or fail on a climb.  Lack of courage will.

That is just one example on tool comparisons.

There are so many really good ice and mixed climbers playing at our game these days.  There is room for every tool maker to have someone on their gear that climbs harder than most of us ever will.  My suggestion is don't get stuck on the tool choice.  Pick what best fits your pocket book and local terrain/conditions.  Find out what your buddies are using.  Borrow their tools.  Abuse them!  Or just as easily and may be just as appropriate pick a color/design you like and the paid professional using your choice of tools to emulate.   Hard to go wrong with any method you want to use choosing a modern ice tool.

All the newest tools climb extremely well compared to a Piolet or a Terrodactyl.  Might pay to remember most of the classic ice climbs world wide (including all the early WI6 climbs)  were done with those same and now seemingly ancient tools.

Jeff Lowe and Mike Weiss did the first ascent (and FFA) of Bridalveil  (WI6)  with 70cm bamboo Piolets and short, curved pick, north wall hammers in 1973.
Life is easy these days on ice.  If it were not, I wouldn't still be climbing it.


Unknown said...

Speaking of modern Ice tools have you gotten a chance to play around with the E-climb ice tools?

Best regards Zach

Dane said...

One of my oldest climbing partners, Carlos Buhler is the NA field rep for E-climb.

Anonymous said...

Great reminder about the Lowes. Don't forget the almost-mandatory 3rd tool -- often an Alpine Hammer -- to turn in screws...

Alpinglow84 said...

Mike Weiss was Jeff's partner on bridalveil.

Dane said...

Yes, typo on my part late last night. Thanks for the catch!

I had wondered where the previous guy got the idea of "the Lowes". Enough of the around I just blew it off. My unintended mistake on Bridalveil.