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Ice Axes and Crampons
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J Her
(sailfast3r) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Ice Axes and Crampons on 10/26/2008 19:02:13 MDT Print View

Looking to get some info from others about a few things. I am preparing for a winter route in the Adirondaks and looking at gear that will suit the High Peaks region and for a future 14-er trek in 2009. Specifically looking at info on Ice Axes and Crampons.

I like the idea of steel for the durability on mixed ice and rock but am open to alum for the lightweight.
CAMP Stalker Steel
Stubai Ultralight Alum
Petzl Irvis Steel

For axes I am considering:
Black Diamond Raven Pro 13.5 oz
Omega Pacific Mountain 23 oz (heavy I know)
Petzl Snow Walker 14.5 oz
Simond Ocelot 15 oz
SMC Shuksan 23 oz
SMC Carpa 16 oz
Black Diamond Raven 17 oz
Stubai Tourlite 14 oz

Again, I like the idea of a forged steel head with alum shaft... but I am not totally against an alum head with alum shaft.

General mountain use, predominantly for walking, alpine, mixed snow/rock/ice. This prob wont be the last axe or set of crampons I buy, but looking for a good first set and each to be around $100 or less. If I can get away with a good setup for under $200 that would be nice.

Any info and advice would be greatly appreciated.

nanook ofthenorth
(nanookofthenorth) - MLife
Crampons on 10/26/2008 19:56:11 MDT Print View

Would recommend a steel pair unless you expect to be able to take them off for rock and don't expect ice.
Used a pair of the CAMP ones this summer, would like to sell them for a more technical binding but otherwise very happy.

ed hyatt
(edhyatt) - MLife

Locale: The North
axe n crampons on 10/27/2008 03:42:49 MDT Print View

I have the BD Raven Pro and the Petzl Irvis.

Both do their job well; the Irvis are very sharp, but that can be fixed with some mixed ground work. There is not a lot else to say.

nanook ofthenorth
(nanookofthenorth) - MLife
axe on 10/27/2008 07:49:32 MDT Print View

I also have the raven pro but after looking at my friends Grivel would probably get that one next. the Raven pick is kinda wide if your going to be using it on pure ice.
Also might get a heavier axe next time, or at least one with a heavier head - the lighter ones tend to rebound off of hard ice rather then penetrating if using the pick or adz.

Have you looked at the BD Wippet? With some crampons might fit your needs.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Ice Axes and Crampons on 10/27/2008 10:42:51 MDT Print View

Consider adding Kahtoola Steel crampons (21 oz) to your list. I find them pretty lightweight for tough, steel crampons and they have worked great for the White Mtns. in New Hampshire which are similar to your conditions. I don't have to worry about a mix of rock and ice underfoot.

Paul Tree
(Paul_Tree) - F

Locale: Wowwww
Grivel USA closing down ! on 10/27/2008 11:14:53 MDT Print View

closing down !! Chraaaaaaap!

J Her
(sailfast3r) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Ice Axes and Crampons on 10/27/2008 19:39:05 MDT Print View

I had the chance to check out a few pieces at a couple shops around town today.

Here are my "first impressions":

CAMP stalker- Nice, very beefy heel and toe lashing, will fit the wifey's boots well. The Vibram insert is nice too and they adjust really easy. Steel is nice and the weight isn't terribly heavy. Decent price range at right around $90.

Black Diamond Contact Strap- Also nice steel and someother adjustment features. Not sure if they adjust more or are more finnakey to get the fit right. They are a bit larger than the CAMP ones and a touch heavier. Heel and toe bails are more flexy and will hug the boots nicely. Front points rubber protector nice, and they fit the boots well too. At $120, not fully satisfied they would be worth the extra $$ compared to the CAMP.

Ice Axes:
Black Diamond Raven- Decent axe. 70cm feels too small and 75 almost too long for me at 6'1" (lanky and long arms too). The head fits well in the palm and the pick is robust. The head is only afixed with epoxy. I would prefer to have rivets AND epoxy to hold on the head. End point is also pretty robust. Good feel in the hands and light enough. $80

Simond Ocelot Hyperlite- Nice axe too. For some reason the 75 felt better in length than the BD Raven. The head design is more "classic" I guess and not quite as nice in the palm. I do like the fact the head and spike are epoxy and riveted in place. 15oz is just fine for me on weight and the head still feels pretty darn robust. $80

That is all that I have looked at in person thus far and I was pretty impressed with the Simond ice axe.

Edited by sailfast3r on 10/27/2008 19:41:15 MDT.

J Her
(sailfast3r) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Kahotolla Crampons on 10/27/2008 19:58:04 MDT Print View

The Kahotolla KTS are steel and look to be pretty decent and similar to the CAMP Stalker. Either would seem to fit our needs.

The Grivel Mount Rainer and SMC Shiksan are very similar in design and weight. They do appear to be very stout and I do like the thru-rivet of each. Both are priced very similarly too at around $80.

I really want to check out the Petzl Charlet Snow Walker. It looks to be the combo that I am looking for in the head design, that is also epoxy and riveted in place. Looks to be a good fit in the hand and also a decent spike design. 14.5 oz is right in there and the price is around $80 also.

I will make a leash for my axe out of Ultrex, Vectran or Amsteel. Large loop spliced in to be secured to the head luggage tag style and another smaller loop to double back for around the wrist. 3/16 line will be plenty strong (overkill actually) and very light.

Edited by sailfast3r on 10/27/2008 19:58:53 MDT.

Douglas Ray

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Ice Axes and Crampons on 10/27/2008 21:17:11 MDT Print View

Of the items you mention I think the two best would be the Raven Pro axe and the Petzle Irvis crampons.

The BD Raven and Raven pro axes have the best ergonomics of any Piolet's available, hands down. Their is a small weight difference which makes the raven chop a bit better in hard conditions, think chopping out a tent platform on a glacier, but the Raven Pro has a thinner pick that is more useful on any sort of ice. You can get the Pro pick to stick in water ice, not so with the Raven. If you need to do much where the lack of head weight is a problem you are probably better off with a real ice tool of some kind. I like it better than the Pezle Snow walker because of the rounded off head (if you are going to use an ice axe for days on end his really does make a difference) and the slightly larger shaft is easier to hold on to. I am not aware of any problem with the head-to-shaft connection, and I think Rivets would actually make it weaker.

For crampons I would definitely reccomend steel. If you spend much time in technical terrain in the mountains you will learn to climb rock in crampons and do so often for a variety of reasons, aluminum crampons won't survive this sort of abuse.

The camp ones are probably good, but I don't know much about them, the pictures look good. The BD Contact has poorly shaped front points that make it not that useful on ice, for ten dollars more you could have the Irvis which is actually a very versatile crampon with excellent front and secondary points and the ability to be made rigid. You can climb technical ice in these better than most 12-point mountaineering crampons that don't convert to rigid.

The steel KTS look like a very light and durable set up for what they are intended for, mild terrain. If you don't think you will ever need to front point on slopes steeper than say 50 degrees or climb anything harder than 3rd class rock in them they are probably the way to go.

All that said used crampons and ice axes can be an excellent way to go. For the vast majority any 10 or 12 point crampon not designed for waterfall ice and pretty much any axe can be used, and $50 used crampons and $40 used axes are not hard to come by in used gear shops or on climbers bulletin boards online.

J Her
(sailfast3r) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Ice Axe on 10/29/2008 19:31:09 MDT Print View

THANKS!!! for the info. Great stuff.

I listed to the advice and went ahead with the BD Raven at Backcountry, I took advantage of the free shipping and 20% off coupon.

This weekend I will be heading to the DC area to check out a few more stores that carry a better selection of crampons and stuff. I am bringing my boots for test fitting too.

nanook ofthenorth
(nanookofthenorth) - MLife
Camps on 10/29/2008 21:48:42 MDT Print View

If your looking at the CAMP's let me know. I ended up buying a set of Saberteeth after this summer for the alpine (climbing) so I'd like to get rid of my Ice Riders.

J Her
(sailfast3r) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Petzl Irvis and rope on 11/06/2008 19:09:07 MST Print View

I went with the Petzl Irvis FL strap crampon for the versitility and positive reviews here. We decided on the CAMP Stalker for her, they fit her boot well. I also found a used (but in like new condition) Black Diamond Raven Pro for her.

What are your thoughts about a walking rope for the "just in case". I have a 70 ft, 10mm rope that is a few years old (mostly used for indoor wall climbing, but I'm out of that now), it is still serviceable.

douglas ray
Walking rope on 11/07/2008 14:22:57 MST Print View

The idea of a lightweight rope for "just in case" can be a bit complicated because it leaves un-answered "just in case of what?"

The do you want the rope only to have the option of rappelling than you can be fine with a piece of accessory cord and the appropriate technique. If you have a disparity of skill in the party it is not uncommon for the rope to be used only to belay a second and to rappel, for this something like a Biel Rando or Better yet the Mammut Pheonix 30m would work fine. But if you want to be able to lead on the rope you need either something stronger or to fold the skinny rope in half. Only having the option to lead 15m (especially considering you probably only have a few runners for pro)isn't much or an option really, when I ran into that circumstance we turned around.

I eventully bought a 50m half/twin rope for such uses, and glacier travel. It's been quite good. I kind of wish I had bought a 60m because there are quite a few alpine rock climbs where all of the pitches are less than 30m and so are the rapells, so one can use a 60m piece of 8mm rope for a lot of rock climbs with a team of two or three.

So far I haven't folded the rope in half and led on it. I have simul-climbed on a single strand of it though. It's nice to have that much length for rapells, and it's about the minimum size for two-person glacier travel in my opinion.

A lot of times I decide which rope to bring after I figure out what pro I'm taking. It's a complicated process at times. I would be really nice to own every sort of rope out there :).

"Alpine Climbing" by Cosly and Houston, is an excellent book to look at about all of these techniues.

BTW I wouldn't hesitate to take that 70ft rope out in the mountains with you, it could have all sorts of usefulness.