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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ski poles? A2.16 Pro Trailer, Mountian Pole! again.

Here is a pole drive by for ya....

My current pole collection dating back to the late '70s from right to left.
And until recently everything was still in use.  No more.

Good idea, but a poor understanding and  follow through on my part here:

Stripped the Scott poles again and did a 2.0 version.  $2.60 for plastic top caps and .97 cents worth of foam pipe insulation from Lowe's.  Foam is sliding around a bit but it is closer to the A216 Pro.  Cober likely the best deal at 44 Euro.  A216 Pro was close to double that.

Way easier and more simple than I first imagined.  And no need for the extra pole length.

I simply didn't understand the real benefits of the original A2.16 Pro Trailer, Mountain Pole.  I do  some what better now.

I will still use a alpine ski pole lift skiing and on the occasional short side country effort.  But I'll  seldom do any thing in the back country again with a typical pole no matter what you call "typical".   I am convinced the "full grip" poles  that I first saw as the A2.16 Pro Trailer, Mountain Pole is the  only pole I'll be using in the mountains from now on.

Black Crow and Cober  are doing similar "full grip" poles.  I would expect someone like Dynafit,  La Sportiva or even K2  (Tim you reading this?)  to eventually have something similar.  The design is too good to ignore.

The design is brilliant..."less is more".  A LOT more.  Lighter in weight, easier to use every where.  Better.  Simple as that. 

As I teased Oscar a few times on our trip..."this pole will change your life!"   I was being some what serious ;-)
Having others stop you to take pictures of and ask about your poles seemed rather unusual, even for Switzerland.

After the Haute Route Oscar bought two pair.  And I bought two spare pair.

Really liked them touring..and for all the same reasons, really liked them on the steeps.


brian p. harder said...

You beat me to the pole post. I feel similarly but waited too late to get the Black Crow pole. They'll likely ship late summer. Good enough.

I bought a long grip Trab pole while in Cham after seeing a number of locals with the concept in hand. Like you say, brilliant. Adjustable poles simply don't get adjusted that often to make them worth while. But like Fritchi bindings, they'll be lots of Americans buying them. You can lead a horse to water but...

One point Vivian Bruchez raises about using straps is how the fixed position of the uphill planted pole can throw the steep skier off balance as he finishes the turn. By going strapless on these style poles, the hand can slide down the grip as needed. Of course, risk of dropping the pole goes up but it's still an interesting point.

Bruno Schull said...

I have become a convert to single aluminum poles. I like the A.16 design but they are too short for me...great for steep terrain but almost useless for anything else, so I stay with slightly longer models from other companies, but still all aluminum. Movement makes one of my favorites. I do still have some of those very light three-section folding BD poles, because they are so light they just disappear in your pack, but for real "work" with the poles single aluminum is the way to go.

Dane said...

I use to like a really long touring pole for skinning.
Thought th A16 would be too short myself...but they aren't. Little long actually.

Semnoz said...

Alain’s pro trailer poles are great, there are a few reasons why they have struggled to take off, from a user point of view, one is size options in the product line, the other is stowing them for long trail races like the UTMB.

For skiing, I personally use an adjustable pole (two pieces) that has nice foam below the grip for the climb. I lengthen them for the skin up (and adjust hand position accordingly on switchbacks), and then adjust them to my ideal descent length for the ski down.

Regarding the strap on the descent for steep terrain, I think it’s highly personal, and depends what you are used to and how you ski. I certainly don’t have the resume of Vivian Bruchez when it comes to steep skiing – that guy is an amazing skier, and one of the few steep skiers around that is a guide and has a racing background a great combo – but I have skied some of the classic steep lines above Chamonix and in the French Pre-Alps, and wearing straps has never been an issue (wearing them is how I ski). I know a small handful of people who have made 5.4 first descents in the French Alps, and none of them adjust their hand position on their poles when on the descent.

Dane said...

Anyone skiing grade 5 terrain consistantly is going to be squared away as a skier. I am not one of them. I do like the Pro poles as they offer a lot of hand positions/ options while touring will zero fuss.

I'd rather have my standard length poles with a fixed grip skiing stuff I consider steep (that would be Grade 4 terrain). But wondering if that isn't just habit and a false sense of security on my part. I do like choking up on the uphill pole that is so easy on the the Pro poles. But as sugegsted is all just personal preference. At some point poles are the least of your concerns.

brian p. harder said...

I certainly agree with all that. Bruchez could likely do what he does with broom handles. But I thought his observation was interesting and something I'd not considered. I've certainly been "pushed around" by the uphill pole on steep terrain but haven't experimented with the idea of varying the hand position mid turn. Never even seen it in action. But I thought I'd throw it out there anyway.

Jason4 said...

What's your take on Whippets or other self arrest poles? Do you think a whippet head with a taped shaft would be worthwhile?

Dane said...

Hey Jason! Interesting question. Brian H. likes them. Colin Haley thinks they are better than a axe most places. I have two and seldom use them. But then I don't willing ski stuff as steep as either of them. For most things I an willing to ski and in good snow conditions I am not concerned enought to use a Whippet. On really steep stuff and hard snow I'd want one or two in hand. But more than likely now to just take a decent axe of one flavor or another. It is a tough question for me and not one easily answered, yet for myself. So my advice isn't worth much, sorry.

Jason4 said...

Thanks for your thoughts Dane.
As a splitboarder I'm really only interested in using the whippet on the ascent. If I'm getting into something that needs a way to arrest a slide on the way down I'll carry my regular axe. I have taken a couple of slides when I've pushed too far before going to boot crampons, one convinced me to buy a whippet and more recently one which I arrested with a whippet. I feel like the last one really should have been a good indicator that boot crampons were warranted at the bottom of the pitch (in the Grouse Creek drainage on frozen corn).

I had wrapped my poles with bar tape but the direction of force on the tape cause it to eventually unravel. I might take another shot at it this summer. I'd go for a simple fixed pole but that doesn't go so well with the poles in the pack for splitboarding.

Dane said...

Ya the whole split board, snow boarder thing gets pretty confusing quickly.

On the down an axe seems easy enough. On the "out", flat or booting collapsable pole makes more sense on a board. Easier to pack up easily. A think a whippet makes perfect sense for what you are thinking. But I wouldn't use a whippet as a crutch for a soft boot or not putting on crampons.

Biggest thing I saw this Spring on boarders is a flexible boot sucks and is dangerious on steep difficult terrain where a rigid soled boot makes things simple...

Not good to need crampons when no one else does yet. I won't do a steep route again with a mixed party of soft and hard soles boots. FWIW...

Nick said...

While a single piece fixed length pole may be stronger, two-piece poles are no doubt more convenient for a variety of settings. FWIW, if it's properly maintained, I've never seen the older version BD Traverse pole collapse at the joint, despite hundreds of days of use. Basic but bomber IME.

But what I have had happen on steep terrain - with both fixed and adjustable poles - is the basket suddenly push through a crust into a softer layer below, which can quickly throw you off balance during a turn. In my experience, this is a bigger deal and more common than a pole joint slipping or a shaft breaking. Technique and practicing a quick recovery seems the only solution here.

Dane said...

"two-piece poles are no doubt more convenient for a variety of settings."

I have and have used 2 and three piece poles going back 30+ years. I simply doubt the wisdom now using a multipiece pole for touring. They are obsolete IMO.

Lots of other places..snow boards or trekking for example where they make sense. Skiing isn't one of them for me. Personal preference for sure.

Jason4 said...

Don't have any concern for the hardness of my boots. I've been touring on Dyna toes for a couple of seasons now and know the advantages of AT boots for the up. Most of the serious split mountaineers that I know have gone to the TLT mountain boots or at least the Deeluxe Spark/XV or Fitwells that will take a semi-auto crampon and have mountaineering boot soles.

My best lessons on the split have been to transition quickly and to recognize the signs that it's time to transition early instead of trying to push on. Sometimes I get caught in the trap of trying to keep up but not too often anymore.

My orginal question was to the value of a whippet with a wrapped shaft. I'll give it a try this summer and see how things go in the fall.

Dane said...

Jason, just thought I'd point out the obvious on the boot issue. More than just us reading the comments.

Have friends that have yet to grab hold of the clue bus on the boots.

Jason4 said...

There should have been a smiley face after that first sentance. :)

Splitboarding can get confusing fast and in general most splitboarders that I know just want to walk for an hour to get better pow turns and they're ok in regular snowboard boots. It's the splitmo riders that are matching boots with our objectives. I think the same can be said for AT skiing and the range of boots/bindings that can be seen in use.

If you ever make it up to the 542 corridor and want to get out with a splitboarder let me know.

Unknown said...

Hi Dane

Have you used the Cober Ultra Trail pole much. Looking on their website it is under the summer trail running category. Is the pole tough enough for skiing? I'm interested in trying a non adjustable long grip pole and these poles are a more friendly price than the A16 poles. Do you know how it compares to something like the Black Crows Oxus as that's the only similar pole i can get my hands on here in Cham.


Dane said...

He Alistair,

Thanks for the heads up. I had hoped the A2 was still available. Hadn't looked around yet. I use the Cober as a touring pole where I won't be doing a lot of down hill. I wouldn't use it as my primary ski pole. Black Crow is a proper ski pole and the one I'll be searching out next.

Dane said...

Found the A2 a couple of places here in town and in several sizes. New black grips instead of the red, might be why you missed them. But some good copies available for the same price or a bit less as well. Black Crow seems to be the only ones makes a really stout version...not that it is needed. And I much prefer the longer grip foam of the A2 versions.

Anonymous said...

Not a full grip pole but very similar...check out the Komperdell Poles, especially the Contour Titanal II:

Dane said...

Thanks. Id's seen the Komperdell prior. Bought the Black Crows and used them some last season. Over built for what I wanted. Bought another pair of A2 as the foam started to delaminate on my original pair (they replaced them on warrenty) after three seasons and many KMs/Vert.