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Ice Tool Feedback

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Ice Tool Feedback

Postby GregV » Wed Sep 01, 2010 6:51 pm

Hey everyone,

I am an Industrial Design student at Cal State Long Beach, and am designing a technical ice axe for a project.

Wondering if anyone has some general thoughts on the drawbacks in existing equipment on the market. Is there any particular inconveniences, or flaws, or simply unaddressed circumstances in current equipment? Do you have a wish list for features in an ice axe? What works well and what doesn't?

Any feedback at all is greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Greg
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Postby robpatterson5 » Wed Sep 01, 2010 7:04 pm

the nomic is great, new one has a spike which is nice. could use a easy way to attach umbilicals w/o cord, the spike always threatens your face. But is good to have climbing neve, helps in the mountains.
nice that the new ones can take a hammer or adz but also nice that they are not built in (safer for drytooling/hard ice). lightish and well balanced are key - should be very precise to swing (so you can easily hit your placement).
I like tools with some curve on the shafts to keep my hands out of the snow when I'm daggering them in on 45-50 degree snow/ice
Be nice for them to be comfortable to hold from the head.

Are you talking piolet or technical ice axe? I like the BD Venom for its versatility, add a grivel slider and you have one of the best alpine tools. For pure ice/hard alpine/drytooling its hard to beat the nomic. Really it comes down to geomotery/preciseness of the tool/penetrating power/adaptability.
I'd stay away from gimmicky stuff and work on something that really feels great in the hands, some company makes an ice axe you could use as a belay device?! stuff like that seems awkward to use, like you would wear out your axe before its time - do you really want an axe there! I'd stay away from it. Brooks Range Rocket Tent is a good example of that kind of multi-tasking done well in outdoor gear.
Some ideas/precedents:
Camp has a super light axe with a riveted on steel pick that can still climb ice.
they used to make axes with interchangeable handles. Considering modern ice/drytooling and the forces involved I'm not sure how much I'd trust them
Camp also has an axe simpler to the venom which has a pop-out pinke rest in the handle, and Grivel has an aftermarket sliding pinke rest for their piolets.
BD has the new fushion with removable spike/clip in point; likewise Nomic spike can be removed and replaced.
Grivel has the Monster line lasercut but they are not as nice as other axes
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Postby nartreb » Wed Sep 01, 2010 7:12 pm

First, it's important to get the nomenclature straight.

An "ice axe" usually means the type of axe used for glacier walking and two-handed self-arrest. This has a smooth, straight shaft for easy plunging into snow as a crevasse probe or temporary anchor, enough length to be used as a cane, a nice big adze for digging, a comfortable head for gripping, and a pick that's designed chiefly for self-arrest. The BD Raven is a good example of an "axe".

An "ice tool" is designed to be used in one hand for vertical ice climbing. It has a short, curved shaft with a grippy handle, a narrow pick with a fancy curve that is stable when inserted yet easy to remove from the ice (but isn't very good for self-arrest), and is usually used in pairs - one with hammer, one with adze, and the adze is often reduced in size. For an extreme example of a "tool", look at the Grivel Monster.

There are lots of "hybrid" designs, but they are all compromises - not ideal for either task.

What do I want in a design? Lighter and cheaper! Also, there is room for improvement in leash systems. If you're not up for inventing the perfect leash (adjustable length, quick and reliable hand insertion and release, some way of ensuring it won't dangle or tangle), make it easy for people to attach their own leash (or none).

For glacier axes, most people wrap some kind of insulation around the head so they don't lose heat through their hand in cane position. That insulation could be built-in.
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Postby hepcat241 » Wed Sep 01, 2010 7:53 pm

For ice and mixed climbing, I'm a big fan of the Grivel Matrix Tech. Light, with a good portion of the weight near the head/pick. The pommel is handy for leashless climbing and protects your hands a bit. It also has a spot to clip some tethers to. I like the "wavy" design of the shaft that allows you to bump your hand up higher on the tool without adding a little piece of material to the shaft. My biggest concern with that tool is the Monster pick is a pain in the a#% to change. Now, I've never broken a pick in the field, but if I did... well I don't want to think about it. Definitely need to have a simple/burly pick attachment system. Black Diamond has a good thing going with the Viper as well. Good clearance and thoughtful designs in all the right places.
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Postby Dave Dinnell » Wed Sep 01, 2010 8:09 pm

I want one with a bottle opener in the adze, please. And maybe a hidden flask style tube in the shaft for, um, hydration support. 8)
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Postby nartreb » Wed Sep 01, 2010 8:44 pm

Has anybody on here actually broken a pick? I sure haven't.
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Postby asmrz » Wed Sep 01, 2010 9:12 pm

Bent a pick (US Made) 90 degrees, twice in one month, two separate picks. Send the first bent one back to them, received replacement, it bent too. Send it back, was told that a flawed manufacturing process was used and that they both were defective. Never used tools from the same company again. Never broke a pick, chipped piece off one pick while mixed climbing.
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Postby climbxclimb » Wed Sep 01, 2010 10:28 pm

Has anybody on here actually broken a pick? I sure haven't.


if you climb hard enough sooner or later you will break a pick...
BD picks are more prone to breaking, but I broke twice the petzl pick...one time on hard black ice on an alpine climb, and another time last winter leading the M5 section of a mixed climb in the Dacks...
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Postby GregV » Wed Sep 01, 2010 11:59 pm

Great feedback so far. Thank you everyone for the responses. What I will be designing is an Ice Tool, specifically for more aggressive technical climbs, right now, that is about as far as I am. Most likely I will be looking primarily at the grip, the leash systems, and material selection.

As I get a little further along, I will undoubtedly ask you all some more questions. In the meantime, feel free to let me know anything that may help.

Thanks!
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Postby brokesomeribs » Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:47 am

GregV wrote:Most likely I will be looking primarily at the grip, the leash systems, and material selection.

As I get a little further along, I will undoubtedly ask you all some more questions. In the meantime, feel free to let me know anything that may help.

Thanks!


If this project is only an intellectual exercise being completed to get a grade for the class, then go right ahead, but if you have any secret hopes of using (or marketing) this axe, don't even bother with leashes. No one uses them anymore.
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Postby MRoyer4 » Thu Sep 02, 2010 1:14 pm

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Postby kozman18 » Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:36 pm

How about an axe with a hinged shaft? Keep it straight for glacier travel and low angle stuff. Bend it when you need a technical tool. The pick could be a hybrid. The keys, of course, would be the hinge mechanism, the ease of use, and reliability in cold weather.
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Postby rhyang » Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:12 pm

Laser guide on the head, with option to pre-drill a pick hole :)
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