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Tethers

Postby blazin » Wed Jul 13, 2011 8:57 pm

Any opinions on or recommendations for tethers for ice tools? Are there any options beyond the BD and Grivel offerings that I should be aware of?
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Re: Tethers

Postby alpinejason » Wed Jul 13, 2011 9:26 pm

I just ordered a Boa by Blue Ice from Dane over at Cold Thistle.

http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2011/03/boa-leash-by-blue-ice.html

I like it just fooling around. I trashed my ankle days before my trip out west a couple weeks ago so haven't used it in the field yet. It doesn't come with clips/biners to connect to the tools so I'm just using some DMM Phantoms I had to clip to my Cobras, any old small biner would work Camp nano, Metolius mini come to mind.

Read Dane's blog for his reasoning why it's better than BD or Grivel.

Cheers.
Jason
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Re: Tethers

Postby alpinejason » Thu Jul 14, 2011 7:36 am

Take leashes into the mountains, don't take them cragin' on mixed terrain or any single pitch climbs. They're meant to keep your tools nearby when you could really be up the creek if you drop one.
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Re: Tethers

Postby Dane1 » Thu Jul 14, 2011 5:24 pm

Hi Jason, thanks for the link to the blog. The video of Colin using the BD version on the Midi is good.

"I'm not sure you need them. I've dropped two tools, one with a leash and one without"


Some of us are obviously slow learners :)

The idea of a tether is to keep leashless tools attached where you can not afford to loose one. Typically that is technical terrain you can't climb with one tool and higher than a pitch or two. Things that are not easy to retreat from or get off of in other words.

The three commercial umbilical sets, BD, Grivel and Blue Ice all offer a slightly different system. I like the strongest and prefer to not use any sort of biners to make the attachemnt. So I girth hitch directly to tools and harness with the blue Ice version as inteneded. That may or may not work for your tools and climbing style. I have used all the commercial versions and all have value and technical strengths.

No design will trump user skills or user error. Tangled tethers happen, but are not a fact of life if you pay attention. They are if you don't pay attention, no matter what is incorporated into the design.

More info that you asked but even more here:

http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2011/01 ... epost.html

A search on the blog will find a number of comments on umbilical strengths. If you are not attaching directly as I do on the Blue Ice version there are comments on why anything but a locking biner for tether/umbilical attachment is a bad idea as many BD Spinner owners are finding out. And a way to make the BD version more reliable. Grivel was the first to offer a commercial tether sytem. There is a reason they went from a wire gate to a locking biner early on.

Since it was mentioned, I also rack in the alpine and on ice with a gear sling. More on that as well:

http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2011/05 ... sling.html
Last edited by Dane1 on Thu Jul 14, 2011 5:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tethers

Postby blazin » Thu Jul 14, 2011 5:40 pm

Thanks all for the insightful replies and discussion.

Knoback - I agree with many of your points and don't intend to use tethers at ice crags, on shorter routes, etc. But I agree Dane, on larger, alpine faces you want to minimize room for error.

Dane - the one thing that is sort of bothering me about the Blue Ice tethers is the need to girth hitch them to the tool. On routes that combine snow slopes and ice--ie where you'll be plunging the shaft in snow (cane piolet) in addition to climbing ice--I would imagine that having the tethers attached to the spike, without an easy way to remove and re-attach them, could prove a PITA. Thoughts?
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Re: Tethers

Postby Dane1 » Thu Jul 14, 2011 6:23 pm

blazin wrote: the one thing that is sort of bothering me about the Blue Ice tethers is the need to girth hitch them to the tool. On routes that combine snow slopes and ice--ie where you'll be plunging the shaft in snow (cane piolet) in addition to climbing ice--I would imagine that having the tethers attached to the spike, without an easy way to remove and re-attach them, could prove a PITA. Thoughts?


Good question.
First off, my answer is, several options on tethers, buy or make what you think will work best for you.

Not a sales pitch just an observation. I choose to girth hitch the Blue Ice. But you can use what ever biner you think appropriate on them as well or have the option of doing either/or depending on the tools you use and the conditions you climb in. You don't have that option with Grivel or BD. Both of which I have seen people cut the production biners off and add their own. But no option to girth hitch with the original slings on BD or Grivel.

That said here is my take. I've used tethers for a long time. My first were home made and always tied to the tools and girth hitched to the harness. No option removing them easily on route. The crux (or at least the scariest part) for some big climbs, like Slipstream for example, is using your tools plunged into the snow on sketchy terrain with no pro available. The tools/tethers work fine that way. You just drive the tools into the snow and the tether follows. Used everything up to the old style Quarks done up with tied tethers and never had an issue. Not saying it was the best answer just saying it works. If you fall on the tool the leverage isn't the best. But if you fall snow climbing and loose the head of your tool ...a tether isn't likely to be a big help. Tether on ice with a good stick? Different story.

These days, I might also take a lwt aluminum axe with a simple wrist loop with me if I think I might need to do a lot of piolet canne. No tether attached, for the same reason, we are now talking about snow climbing. But I generally climb everything with either Nomics or Ergos. If I am not simply just reversing them for Piolet Canne, the added aluminum axe is worth the effort/weight because the technical tools climbs so well on steep ground. I'd be happy to take that same Nomic/Race axe combo on Slipstream if I were to do it again and likely be happier/safer as the end result.

I have, but seldom use the Cobra and the newest Quarks. I don't do a lot of climbing where I use piolet canne. If I did I would use those tools (or something better like a simple straight axe) more often. But if I am doing a lot of piolet canne I would generally just remove the tethers altogether with rare exceptions.

Clipping directly into an axe's spike with in a wire gate like the BD spinner is a quick way to loose a tool as the spike and wire gate easily lever the gate open. Pretty common occurance actually. Don't clip steel to steel unless you use a locker is my thought. The amount of time to remove a girth hitch on a Cobra or Quark and start doing piolet cane without a tether isn't time prohibative for me...it is just a few seconds. Obviously not as quick or as easy as a biner but the issue isn't the change over, it is loosing a tool when you make a mistake and drop it. No question the change over might well be the place you drop the tool though.

For me it gets boiled down to this: "What is my priority for the tether?"
1st..keep the tool attached
2nd..be as strong as possible
3rd..be fail safe for me the klutz (as in keep the tool attached)

The rest I can work around. You may not want to.
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