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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2006 11:13 pm 
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ttriche wrote:
The new style whippet can accept a 3-piece expedition lower; call Black Diamond and they'll be happy to sell you the right ones. They are about $25 if memory serves (probably doesn't).

That's cool. I talked to someone at BD last season and he said they were discontinuing the ones for the trekking poles (including the 3-section expedition pole), and it didn't sound like there was going to be a replacement.

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Heelside would be a bad way to fall in an icy chute. You're probably fucked regardless of whether you have an axe or a Whippet. Also regardless of which hand you hold it in -- I have always held an ice axe for self arrest in my stronger hand, which is my right hand (as I am right-handed). Injury is probable in that scenario unless you somehow get the leashed axe in sideways or across your body and manage to rotate. Not likely but who knows. Don't fall like that. Sometimes a belay might be the only "safe" answer. Without a board on your feet, it is a relatively easier matter to get the pick slammed in and your feet rotate themselves if it sticks. On a board I would think you'd be preoccupied with trying to get the edge to stick. That tends to be my initial reaction if I blow my heelside edge.

That's pretty much what I thought. I have experienced what you're talking about with being preoccupied with getting the edge to stick. On at least one occasion I have blown a heelside turn and tried to recover instead of self-arrest even though I had a tool in hand. I guess that's the natural reaction, so some practicing is in order. Or better yet, as you say, don't fall that way... :)

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Stowing the Whippets and their picks is trivial. Pop the picks out and stick them in the lid of the pack, then stow the poles as usual.

Maybe it's just me, but with my whippet it is a friggin' pain in the ass getting the pick out. In fact the last time I tried I couldn't do it even on the workbench using tools. I guess the good thing is that it ain't gonna pop out when in use... So I just always leave the pick in. No problem strapping the poles to the side of the pack on the way down. Just make sure the pick isn't facing into your back. :shock:

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I tend to descend with poles in hand, for balance as much as anything. I didn't do this at first, until a stronger AT/tele/split rider pointed out that you can plant a pole riding a board just like you can riding on skis.

That's true. I find this especially useful when descending with a full overnight pack. The folks who poo-poo this as "not snowboarding" should try it before passing judgement. On steeper stuff with a daypack I prefer strapping the poles to the pack.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 10:36 am 
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Thanks for all the info, it has been very helpful. As far as whippets go, I don't know if they would help me on the ascent. I am typically skinning on relatively safe terrain. If it gets very steep, I am bootpacking b/c I don't feel confident enough to skin on very steep terrain. Therefore, I will probably have my axe out while hiking up these steep sections (I don't have enough money to buy multiple axes, so I am stuck with my long hiking axe). On the descent, I never contemplated having my axe out, but I may try it. As previous posters mentioned , after I fall I am concentrating on getting an edge, and I don't think I would even remember that I have an axe in my hand. Another reason that I am not really interested in whippets is that I don't think I would use my poles on the descent. I just don't think that I could get used to it, but I will try. I don't think, however, that using your poles means that you are not really snowboarding. People who say that should stay at the resort. When you are in the BC, you should do what you need to in order to have fun and be safe, regardless of how it looks. "Image" is for getting chicks back at the resort, it has no place in the BC.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 4:34 pm 
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I just bought a Whippet. Some thoughts:

The whippet is good for frozen/crusty snow, the most likely thing we'll encounter while hunting for turns. It's not going to have the leverage of an iceaxe--the whippet will give you leverage and some grip, and stop minor slips. But it's not going to save you from a catastrophic fall. But then an iceaxe isn't guaranteed to either. Rule #1 of the mountains is DON'T FALL.

Anything that actually requires that you have an iceaxe to climb, is probably going to be too sketch to ride. Sure, you could imagine "snowboarding" something with two ice tools, inching your way down with self-belays. But then you might as well have left the board at home. However, if you did make the mistake of thinking you could make turns on something that is hard to climb, you could take one whippet and one axe, and have two good points of contact, for less weight than two axes.

One last thing, poles CAN be used actively while riding. It's rare, but there are conditions and situations where pole support helps, either to push along, to stabilize, or help with hop-turns.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 4:42 pm 
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huevon wrote:

Anything that actually requires that you have an iceaxe to climb, is probably going to be too sketch to ride. Sure, you could imagine "snowboarding" something with two ice tools, inching your way down with self-belays. But then you might as well have left the board at home. However, if you did make the mistake of thinking you could make turns on something that is hard to climb, you could take one whippet and one axe, and have two good points of contact, for less weight than two axes.


Not necessarily true.... When it gets in the range of 4000+ feet of exposure, above 40 degrees, I want an ice axe. Chances are that if I'm on that type of slope, it's pretty hard, or icy snow... wouldn't consider riding something like that in powder, as the relative tension of the slop eowuld be enormous, and it would be very likely to slide. A fall on something like this can get out of control pretty fast.

Also, picking apart technical runs is its own kind of fun.

Zach

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 4:53 pm 
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A legendary ski mountaineer once said:

"I had to turn and look down to make sure my climbing ability hadn't exceeded my skiing. Sure enough, it was well within my limits."

He never used an iceaxe.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 5:00 pm 
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You're right... I have no idea what I'm talking about :roll:

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 5:05 pm 
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No offense Zach, I'm sorry for the attitude. Not trying to pick a fight. But here's how I see it:

Consider a slope such as depicted below. You fall, you die. There is no self arrest. The only way an iceaxe serves you is as a climbing aid, and as a self-belay. Which is exactly what the whippet is designed for. If you take a tumble on something like this, it's over, iceaxe or no.
Image
Jason Hummel skis the NE Face Fury. Photo by the late Ben Manfredi.

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volando vengo volando voy
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 5:17 pm 
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No offense taken.

For that example, sure.... to a degree. There are so many possible factors, though, that you can't necesarily say, definitively or not, that an ice axe is a good or bad idea.

On a slope like that, at 12,000', I wouldn't use an ice axe. Put it above 20k, though, and I might consider it. Most of the really aesthetic lines ski'd or ridden, above 20,000 are done with a high degree of caution... you won't find anyone making GS turns at that altitude... witnes the guy in the picture.

When you're struggling to get half-capacity breaths, and your legs are rubbery from hypoxia, dragging an ice axe is a good way to mantain a cautious speed.... on icy sections, you may also need to use 1 or 2 axes to shimy down.

I missed my chance to ride the upper sections of the West Buttress Headwall, last summer, because I kept thinking I would get a chance at the Orient or the Messner, and i wanted to play it safe. If I had, though, I definitely would have had my short axe out. It was about 42 degrees (not super steep), but there was only about 2 inches of slush on top of ice... Mix in 5000 feet of exposure, and falling is not an option. I would have used my axe to regulate any speed and to some degree as a reminder to keep it slow and controlled.

BTW - skiers can't use ice axes on descent... Hence the invention of the Whippet. Every serious ski-mountaineer that I've spoken to about it, though, was jealous of a snowboarder's ability to ride with an ice axe.

Zach

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 5:35 pm 
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It seems you should be able to drag a whippet equally as well as an iceaxe, for the purpose of self-belay. All that shaft is irrelevant unless you're two-handing the axe, or holding it in swing position. But I have yet to compare the two.

People always mention gnarly descents done by snowboarders wielding double axes, and I have to wonder if there's really a point to having a snowboard on your feet if you need to use iceaxes to get down (except to say that you "snowboarded" or "skied" some line :roll:).

Certainly few if any of us here splitboard.com are going to put ourselves in the above situation. I do think it is dangerous to believe in a notion that holding an iceaxe is going to save you in the event of a fall. But I'm sure it can't hurt (unless you stab yourself...).

My understanding is that the whippet is a lighter substitute for all of the non-disastrous functionalities of an iceaxe. And that if you want to get on some gnarly route, you should ask yourself truthfully: am I going to want crampons on my feet, or a snowboard?

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 5:37 pm 
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Luckily skiers don't need to use an axe to 'regulate speed', they can do that with their edges. ( Do you plan on doing hop turns to self-arrest? :shock:)

Plus, we can sidestep. And you can't. So it's little wonder that snowboarders feel the need to resort to extra tools to keep themselves from tumbling.

:P

PS Zach, don't worry, Huevon doesn't like ice axes because he needs his hands for his two poles. I'm guessing that most snowboarders actually manage to leave their hands free; he's just the exception. :P


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 5:41 pm 
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pbelitz wrote:
Plus, we can sidestep. And you can't.


We sort of can. Especially if we go toeside, and drag or plant a pick. Then it's actually pretty easy, because this is similar to self-arrest position. But I wouldn't call that snowboarding. Nor would I call sidestepping, skiing...

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 6:05 pm 
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There are many times when I would use an axe for the climb, but not during the ride. For example, we did a hairy ridge climb near Jackson Hole to get to a slope. The slope itself was about 45 degrees and not too sketchy, but I would have loved to have an axe for the ridge.

I don't see the advantage of having two axes. From my experience, the self arrest power of an axe comes from holding the head of the axe with your other hand and driving the pick into the slope. If you were holding two axes, you would only have a hand on each shaft and could not put the necessary force onto the head of the axe. Does anyone have a contrary experience?

Regardless of all of these wonderful comments, I don't have the money to buy various axes and whippets. So for me, it will be my ice axe or nothing. I will be in Utah in March, so I will try out the axe


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 6:53 pm 
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cbaumga2 wrote:
Therefore, I will probably have my axe out while hiking up these steep sections (I don't have enough money to buy multiple axes, so I am stuck with my long hiking axe). On the descent, I never contemplated having my axe out, but I may try it.


Got an email about this thread and read your post -- it's sometimes possible to find Grivel and Charlet "3rd tool" axes for a low price, eg. on eBay. Might consider that. Your full-size ice axe is probably exactly the right tool for your style of ascent and descent, though. The only reason to switch to a ski-mountaineering axe would be to shed weight, really. Hell, I'd sell my little Grivel tool for $35 if someone wanted to buy it.

For me, I always push to keep on skinning and stay in a rhythm until the bitter end, so I like to have my whippets available. I am a better and more experienced climber than skier/snowboarder (ask patroller420 about this ;-)) so my perception of risk may be very different than people who come from a snowboarding background. Either way, your comments about getting a pick slammed in, and poles vs. axes, are quite valid. Whatever allows you the greatest margin of safety given your style, is the right tool for you.

Hope you're enjoying your season. Cheers.


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