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Ice axes and tools on alpine routes

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Ice axes and tools on alpine routes

Postby infinityjellyD » Wed Jan 20, 2016 7:29 pm

I have a BD Raven Pro as my standard mountaineering ax. I also have a pair of Nomics as my ice climbing tools.

So far, my glaciated mountaineering experience has been relatively easy routes on Rainier and Baker, nothing requiring technical tools. But as I transition to harder routes, I'm trying to decide whether it is worth purchasing some Quarks (or similar) for more technical alpine routes. Can I use the Nomics on technical routes? I figure they are pretty useless for self arrest. I have read of people taking a mixed pair w/ one mountaineering ax and one tool, but am not sure how common or advisable that approach is. Oh, and by "more technical routes", I mean AD or even D.
Last edited by infinityjellyD on Fri Feb 05, 2016 2:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ice axes and tools on alpine routes

Postby sharperblue » Wed Jan 20, 2016 9:45 pm

sure - you can mix and match; quite common actually, especially in the AD and D- range. The Nomics with their grip/handrest might be a little harder to place on lower angled terrain obviously, so they're not 'ideal' but they're perfectly adequate. Conditions are so variable on those types of routes that one week you might prefer two technical tools and the next week a mixed pair, so ultimately it's unpredictable
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Re: Ice axes and tools on alpine routes

Postby ExcitableBoy » Thu Jan 21, 2016 12:48 am

I have found that for moderately technical alpine routes (i.e. 'AD' and 'D' - Mt. Rainier Liberty Ridge, Mt. Baker North Ridge, etc.) having a 60 cm semi-technical piolet (Petzl Summit Evo or Grivel Air Tech Evo) paired with a 50 cm semi-technical hammer (Petzl Summit Sum'Tec or Grivel Air Tech Evo) to be an ideal combination. These routes have more 30-50 degree terrain where a 60 cm tool is ideal than 70-90 degree terrain where Nomics are ideal.

I think the concept would work fine with your BD Raven Pro and Nomic. Currently, I use a first generation Grivel Air Tech Lite 58 cm piolet with a 50 cm BD Carbon Fiber Black Prophet. If I had the money and inclination I would upgrade to the Petzl combo I described above.

FWIW, I am a Charlet-Moser /Petzl fanboy, and I did not care for the Quarks, in fact I just sold a pair. Also, I find less technical tools like Petzl Aztars and BD Black Prophets to climb steep ice better than the latest generation ice specific tools like Nomics or BD Fusions climb alpine routes. I think most climbers would disagree, as I see really hard alpine routes getting done with decidedly non alpine tools, but I place a lot of pitons and use the adze to build T slot anchors, clear placements, build bollards, and have even chopped bivi ledges. Hard to do those things without proper hammers and adzes. The ones on many tools are jokes.
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Re: Ice axes and tools on alpine routes

Postby infinityjellyD » Fri Jan 22, 2016 6:03 pm

Thanks guys. I agree that the Raven Pro/Nomic combo is a little awkward (Raven too straight and Nomic too curved) for 40-60* alpine pitches, but good to know it will do the job. Luckily, I'm attending the NH Ice Fest in two weeks and all the major manufacturers will have demos, so I'll try the Petzl combo you mentioned ExcitableBoy if possible. Will also try the Air Tech, as that seems like a popular choice.
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Re: Ice axes and tools on alpine routes

Postby ExcitableBoy » Fri Jan 22, 2016 8:17 pm

infinityjellyD wrote: Luckily, I'm attending the NH Ice Fest in two weeks and all the major manufacturers will have demos, so I'll try the Petzl combo you mentioned ExcitableBoy if possible. Will also try the Air Tech, as that seems like a popular choice.


Do me a favor and try out the Grivel North Machine Carbons if you can and report back. I just sold my Quarks and am looking for a replacement and they look like the ticket.
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Re: Ice axes and tools on alpine routes

Postby infinityjellyD » Mon Jan 25, 2016 4:28 pm

ExcitableBoy wrote:
Do me a favor and try out the Grivel North Machine Carbons if you can and report back. I just sold my Quarks and am looking for a replacement and they look like the ticket.


Will do.
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