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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 8:20 am 
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To respond to the axe length question, I think it all depends on what you plan to climb and ride. A shorter ice axe may have some benefits like weight, but if you plan on doing light snowboard mountaineering or glacier travel I think a longer axe is better. Most things you will be climbing will not be completely vertical and your axe can double as a support instead of your pole, and can make a much better anchor. A shorter basic mtneering axe just doesn't make sense you might as well use a ice climbing axe. I also don't know why someone would not choose to use some type of arrest tool on a descent like the picture of the one posted. Their are many lines that I have used my axe on that were between 35-45 degrees. I used it going up and coming down mainly because the conditions were bulletproof and if i can barely kick a step and barely hold an edge I want an ice axe to help me achieve my goal. And even though their are many lines that you could probably slide down on your butt, an axe helps you to stay in control especially when hop turns are required, so you can atleast look like you should be up there.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 9:14 am 
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Normally your axe is use for traversing steep terrain or going up or down steep slopes. In either case a long axe (anything over 60cm) just gets in the way. A long axe is fine for glacier plods when used primarily for balance (and possibly crevasse rescue) but for touring or mountaineering makes no sense - if you want help for balance/stability use ski poles. A 50cm classical mountaineering axe is not a technical ice climbing tool which have bent shafts and reverse picks. A short axe is much better for self arrest as you're able to exert a lot more force with a shorter axe.

Stuff about axes touching the floor/ankles when holding vertically is pretty much outdated (unless you are glacier trekking).


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 9:44 am 
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
I would not consider an axe that weighs more than 440 grams (1 pound). I like my Whippets, but I have thought about resuming using an axe for some of the reasons people brought up. I probably won't, though, unless I try snowboarding something like Denali or Logan.

Length isn't as much of a concern as weight to me. I like my Whippets, at 11 ounces they are functional for me. Part of this may be a holdover from climbing -- I have plenty of friends who are perfectly happy strapping a nut tool to a biner with pipe clamps and using that for self arrest. But for someone who hates poles, the BD Raven Ultra is about 11 ounces with a steel head, as is the Grivel Airtech, and there are a number of aluminum-headed axes around 8 ounces (I would not choose to carry one of those).

About 50cm is really all you should need for self arrest. If you look at a lot of the objections people have to Whippets, the excessive length plays a big part. I just don't ever see anyone (at all) carrying long axes in the mountains anymore. They're too damned heavy and offer no real benefit.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 10:09 pm 
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Location: Santa Cruz, CA
jimw wrote:
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.

I checked into this. Turns out you can't buy a whippet shaft for a 3-piece pole anymore. You can only buy the entire 2-piece whippet pole (however, it's about the same price as the old whippet shaft - which is about 3 times what's quoted above... :)). If you buy the 2-piece pole, you can cut down the upper shaft and use it with an existing 3-section pole, and have an extra spare lower. You have to cut out the notch for the flicklock as well. Dutch Marc had one of these that he had done this mod to at splitfest.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 10:34 am 
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jimw wrote:
jimw wrote:
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.

I checked into this. Turns out you can't buy a whippet shaft for a 3-piece pole anymore. You can only buy the entire 2-piece whippet pole (however, it's about the same price as the old whippet shaft - which is about 3 times what's quoted above... :)).


nb. the price I quoted was for the lower sections of a 3-piece pole, which BD sells separately from the top (grip/Whippet) piece. The whippet has always been around $70-75 regardless of whether it was sold as a shaft or a complete 2-piece pole.

Last season, I bought the complete-pole version, immediately replaced the one-piece lower with two-piece Expedition lower pieces (hence the price quote), and haven't ever regretted it. The recent incident with a guy collapsing the cornice above Chute Out has got me thinking about carrying a ~250 gram axe or a picket for anchoring a belay, though. Can't see how a Whippet would do much good for this above treeline (although in most snow conditions, I could just cut a bollard and use that instead).

At some point on the risk scale, I no longer care to push the boat out any further. My suspicion is that the people who strongly prefer an axe to a Whippet are taking more risk than I am comfortable with regardless of what self-arrest tool I carry. I find the additional peace of mind while skinning, booting, and descending to be worth the sacrifice in self-arrest performance, but that's because I rarely descend lines where a fall would likely result in death. Serious injury, sure; death, no. The extra margin of safety from an axe might be worth a lot more if I took bigger risks.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 2:58 pm 
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ttriche wrote:
nb. the price I quoted was for the lower sections of a 3-piece pole, which BD sells separately from the top (grip/Whippet) piece. The whippet has always been around $70-75 regardless of whether it was sold as a shaft or a complete 2-piece pole.

Ah, I was confused about what you were saying. Gotcha now. I checked into this yet again, and it's even more confusing. The Expedition pole changed sometime in the last year or two. The new pole is apparently a different diameter than the old one. If you have an old Expedition, you can get lowers (both mid and lower) for $18.50. If you have a new Expedition, you can get the mid and lower sections independently (mid = $5.57, lower = $9.40). I think that the new Whippet fits the newer Expedition lowers, but not the old ones. The old Whippet Trek fits the older Expedition lowers. Confusing!

Quote:
Last season, I bought the complete-pole version, immediately replaced the one-piece lower with two-piece Expedition lower pieces (hence the price quote), and haven't ever regretted it.

Did you cut down the length of the upper Whippet shaft?

Quote:
The recent incident with a guy collapsing the cornice above Chute Out has got me thinking about carrying a ~250 gram axe or a picket for anchoring a belay, though. Can't see how a Whippet would do much good for this above treeline (although in most snow conditions, I could just cut a bollard and use that instead).

From the incident description, it sounded like the guy didn't know he was on the cornice, or in an unsafe area, in which case if it goes you're probably screwed no matter what tools you have (except for maybe a parachute!).


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 Post subject: Axe Length
PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2006 9:32 pm 
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Location: Reno
Thanks for all the feedback, I ended up getting this in 50cm: http://www.bdel.com/gear/raven_ultra.php


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2006 5:07 pm 
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jimw wrote:
BGnight wrote:
When riding I just hold it in my rear hand by the handle. This grip allows me to arrest whether I lose my toe or heel edge.

Can you explain how you self-arrest with this grip (or any grip) when you're heelside? Does it involve trying to turn over toeside, i.e. akin to what you would end up doing to self-arrest if you fell from the same orientation but with no snowboard on?

The one time I truly self arrested was in the chute out(ellery bowl). I had rode perfect corn down to the last 100 ft. of the chute proper when I entered a section of the chute that had not seen sun yet and was bulletproof corn. I was gingerly traversing on my heel edge trying to find a spot soft enough to make a turn when my edge just blew w/out warning. I started to rapidly gain speed when I just leaned to my left side and buried the pick in the frozen corn (left hand on top of pick, right hand on shaft). I stopped immediately. If I didn't have it I was going for a nice 500 ft. slide. Ever since I feel naked w/out it. Sure, there's a chance of hurting yourself w/ the axe itself, but these outweight the times you really need it.


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 Post subject: Re: Axe Length
PostPosted: Sun Apr 09, 2006 5:08 pm 
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SteadyB wrote:
Thanks for all the feedback, I ended up getting this in 50cm: http://www.bdel.com/gear/raven_ultra.php


This is similar to the one I use. This one looks sick 8)


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:55 pm 
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BGnight wrote:
The one time I truly self arrested was in the chute out(ellery bowl). I had rode perfect corn down to the last 100 ft. of the chute proper when I entered a section of the chute that had not seen sun yet and was bulletproof corn. I was gingerly traversing on my heel edge trying to find a spot soft enough to make a turn when my edge just blew w/out warning. I started to rapidly gain speed when I just leaned to my left side and buried the pick in the frozen corn (left hand on top of pick, right hand on shaft). I stopped immediately. If I didn't have it I was going for a nice 500 ft. slide. Ever since I feel naked w/out it. Sure, there's a chance of hurting yourself w/ the axe itself, but these outweight the times you really need it.

OK, so typically if you were going to self-arrest with that hand position, you'd be facing the slope. If you didn't have a snowboard on, and started sliding "heelside", it's easy enough to just roll over as you're burying the pick (rolling to the left in this case). Were you able to fully roll over with the board on, or did you just put the axe in on your left side while staying in the heelside position? Just trying to picture the positioning. Seems amazing you could get enough purchase with the axe to stop immediately in this position. Thanks for the input.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2006 11:07 pm 
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jimw wrote:
BGnight wrote:
The one time I truly self arrested was in the chute out(ellery bowl). I had rode perfect corn down to the last 100 ft. of the chute proper when I entered a section of the chute that had not seen sun yet and was bulletproof corn. I was gingerly traversing on my heel edge trying to find a spot soft enough to make a turn when my edge just blew w/out warning. I started to rapidly gain speed when I just leaned to my left side and buried the pick in the frozen corn (left hand on top of pick, right hand on shaft). I stopped immediately. If I didn't have it I was going for a nice 500 ft. slide. Ever since I feel naked w/out it. Sure, there's a chance of hurting yourself w/ the axe itself, but these outweight the times you really need it.

OK, so typically if you were going to self-arrest with that hand position, you'd be facing the slope. If you didn't have a snowboard on, and started sliding "heelside", it's easy enough to just roll over as you're burying the pick (rolling to the left in this case). Were you able to fully roll over with the board on, or did you just put the axe in on your left side while staying in the heelside position? Just trying to picture the positioning. Seems amazing you could get enough purchase with the axe to stop immediately in this position. Thanks for the input.


Yeah, I just leaned over to my left sliding on my butt (heelside). The key was I hadn't gained a huge amount of speed, thus I stopped easily. I don't think you need as much purchase as you think in certain snow types. In fact I worry about dislocating my shoulder from arresting at a high speed cuz those picks work pretty darn good. A friend told me a story of a girl in Ellery bowl on a firm day hiking up w/ an axe w/out a leash on. She lost her footing and tried to self arrest and the pick just stuck in the snow and blew out of her hands and she went for a 300 ft. slide. She was fine, just a little rasberried up. I guess it's a good thing I don't have a lot of "live" experience self arresting. Sometimes I think just having an axe gives me confidence that I'll at least have a chance if I lose it. For the most part I get the most use of my axe for ascending and for scetchy entrances on firm snow where I don't have enough confidence in making that "do or die" turn. I'm talkin' about entering toeside plunging and wiggling down until I am ready for my first jump turn to my heelside.


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PostPosted: Mon May 01, 2006 9:06 am 
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Location: California
Thanks for all the info, guys. I just bought my first self-arrest tool. I decided on the Black Diamond Raven Pro 50 cm. Shasta and the East side here I come!!!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 8:05 am 
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Joined: Sun Nov 28, 2004 6:05 am
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Location: Basque Country, Spain.
i prefer not to hold the axe when is not absolute necesary.
when i reach a safe terrain but i expect to need it later. I use to do this:

Image

Image

Image

I would hold the axe on the red lines, and i would put it on the board on the yellow ones

Image

enjoy!


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