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Two Axes vs. One

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Two Axes vs. One

Postby ascasson » Fri Jun 22, 2012 7:09 pm

Hi folks,

I was just daydreaming at work and was suddenly thinking about what it's like using two ice axes on a climb instead of one.

Aside from on ice climbs, how often do you choose to use two axes, and what factors affect your decision? Is it mostly for mixed outings? Exceptionally steep snow?

Also, do you have different sized axes?

Just curious!

Anthony
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Re: Two Axes vs. One

Postby Dow Williams » Fri Jun 22, 2012 7:30 pm

A steep alpine route, typically up a north face. Will pack in a tool and a very lightweight straight shaft alpine ax. The alpine ax is used for glacier travel to the face of the climb, in hand to arrest a fall. Once it is steep enough to place protection, mostly ice, then I grab the tool and use both in the same way we would for climbing waterfalls, only one is a an alpine ax. I can climb WI 3 waterfall ice with an alpine ax no worries. Some might not have the experience to be comfortable with it. In any scenario for me, there would be little to no reason to own two alpine axes. When steep enough to require two picks, obviously one ice tool makes sense and then you will have same if you ever decide to climb waterfall ice, in which you will then want two tools.
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Re: Two Axes vs. One

Postby Ben Beckerich » Fri Jun 22, 2012 9:29 pm

I've found myself looking up ice steps that weren't supposed to be there, and been glad I had a secondary tool strapped to the pack. But if the route is known non-technical, why bother? I don't generally climb non-technical routes, but if I were going up any of the dog routes on any of the volcanoes, I would most definitely not take a second tool.

I was eyeballing this guy, recently...http://www.petzl.com/us/outdoor/vertica ... sum-tec-43 For a possible side-job guiding up the dog routes... could come in handy
where am i going... and why am i in this handbasket?
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Re: Two Axes vs. One

Postby ExcitableBoy » Fri Jun 22, 2012 11:03 pm

I climb with one axe on non technical routes < 50 degree snow/ice. Steeper than that I find a second tool (a hamer) to increase comfort, safety, and speed. I climbed many of the PNW volcano NF routes with a a 60 cm REI Shuskan axe and an SMC Himalayan Hammer. A supurb combination for the varying snow steepness found on Rainier's Liberty Ridge, NR and Coleman Headall of Baker, Adams Glacier, Hood's steep west side routes, etc.

My partner opted for his 58cm Grivel Air Tech Racing axe paired with a carbon fiber Black Prophet hammer for a technical route on Alaska Range's Mount Begguya, wheras I opted for two technical tools. He also climbed 4,000 ft of WI 4 and only three screws with this set up. But I digress.

Like Ben B said, the Petzl Sum' Tec 59 cm axe and the matching 52 cm hammer would be the modern (and darn nice) version of this. Very, very versatile. I personally think the 43 cm hammer would be too short to climb eficiently.
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Re: Two Axes vs. One

Postby Kiefer » Sat Jun 23, 2012 7:51 am

What Dow said!

I only take an ice tool IF I know I'm going to encounter WI or AI. (IE: the route crux describes it). Otherwise, I only use one technical mountainering axe. Keep things simple. I believe in being as versitile with as little as one can get away with. Cavaet: Route choice.

However, I DO believe in carrying extra hardware, slings, webbing, duct tape etc.

ExcitableBoy wrote:My partner opted for his 58cm Grivel Air Tech Racing axe paired with a carbon fiber Black Prophet hammer for a technical route on Alaska Range's Mount Begguya, wheras I opted for two technical tools. He also climbed 4,000 ft of WI 4 and only three screws with this set up. But I digress.


Whoa! :shock:
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Re: Two Axes vs. One

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sat Jun 23, 2012 12:05 pm

Kiefer Thomas wrote:
ExcitableBoy wrote:. He also climbed 4,000 ft of WI 4 and only three screws with this set up. But I digress.


Whoa! :shock:


That was on our nearly successful attempt at the second winter ascent of the NE Buttress of Johannesburg Peak. A climb we turned around on due to a malfunctioning stove. I thought it would be mostly snowed up rock so we took a large rock rack and Nick threw in two cheap, Russian titanium screws. I tossed in a third when he wasn't looking. Instead of snowed up rock we found pitch after pitch of of plastic, steep, ice. Nick shrugged his shoulders and led off. Foruntately we did find belays in rock or vegetation. I told my friend Colin Haley about the climb and next winter, as a consolation prize during the worst five day storm of the winter, he and Mark Bunker made the second complete winter ascent of the route. A climb Colin claims to this day writes was his hardest relative to his experience level.
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