/ Dodgy climbing axe bought on ebay

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Gerry_Doncaster - on 25 Jan 2013
I bought a Mountain Technology Vertige Glencoe axe from ebay a while ago. Yesterday when I was using it for only the second time I whacked it into a patch of hard ice and this happened:

http://www.roxcalibur.com/pix/dodgyaxe.JPG

I've never had an axe fail like this before so I'm thinking the pick can't have been a genuine. I get the impression now that someone has replaced a worn pick by cutting one out of a piece of tin or something. Is this what has likely happened or is there a problem with Mountain Technology picks? I'd be interested to hear from anyone who can shed some light on this.

In fairness I've bought loads of climbing equipment off ebay over the years and this is the first time I've ever had a problem with anything.
Stone Muppet - on 25 Jan 2013
I have vertige alpinist axes and despite years of abuse they have never done that.
NottsRich on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster: I think you should contact Mountain Technology and ask them. I'm sure they would appreciate it.

FWIW, you must've hit something very hard to do that. Even if it was just mild steel! Is it magnetic? That's as far as my metallurgy skills can go over the internet I'm afrad.
Withnail - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster:

I had a set of vertige axes for a few years a while back. Brilliant axes and totally bomproof.

If someone has knowingly sold you this axe as a fake they are clearly an egit. That kind of catastrophic failure could obviously have dire consequences in the wrong situation. Ive never seen any axes do this. Itd be interesting to have the material tested somehow.....

Jon
Dan_S - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to NottsRich:
> (In reply to Gerry_Doncaster) I think you should contact Mountain Technology and ask them. I'm sure they would appreciate it.

HB (Mountain Technology's parent company) closed down in 2005, and I believe MT were defunct before then.


Bimbler - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster:

Maybe its been sharpened using a grinding wheel and lost its temper making it soft?
Milesy - on 25 Jan 2013
I am sure you could still drop Hamish an email through his website.
Jimbo C - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster:

Is that a steel pick? It looks incredibly soft and ductile.
danm - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster:

The colour of that pick doesn't look right to me. Does the pick have any markings on it like the manufacturers name or a CE/UIAA marking? It's either a fake or it was never tempered properly. The picks are almost impossible to get hold of btw.
timjones - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster:
> I bought a Mountain Technology Vertige Glencoe axe from ebay a while ago. Yesterday when I was using it for only the second time I whacked it into a patch of hard ice and this happened:
>
> http://www.roxcalibur.com/pix/dodgyaxe.JPG
>
> I've never had an axe fail like this before so I'm thinking the pick can't have been a genuine. I get the impression now that someone has replaced a worn pick by cutting one out of a piece of tin or something. Is this what has likely happened or is there a problem with Mountain Technology picks? I'd be interested to hear from anyone who can shed some light on this.
>
> In fairness I've bought loads of climbing equipment off ebay over the years and this is the first time I've ever had a problem with anything.

Hard to tell from that angle, but are you sure that it is a Vertige?

JohnnyW - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster:

I have both the older and newer Vertiges, and they would never do that. The picks were all tempered stainless, so what you have there IMHO is a copy, made because the owner couldn't get spares. The colour looks like mild steel to me too.

I have been successful in obtaining some through here and through EBay, and indeed have a spare, (though I'm saving it for obvious reasons), so I'm sure you can. The axes are excellent, you just need to do a better job of getting replacement picks....

Good luck
wheelsucker - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster:

I agree with Timjones is doesn't look like a Vertige axe.
Kid Spatula - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster:

It's a Vertige Alpinist. Still shouldn't be doing that like.
iksander on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster: Wow, that pick looks like it's made of lead!
tom290483 - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster:

I've bent many a BD fusion pick and a few grivel ones and some have been fairly new picks. It's always going to happen when your swinging something metal anywhere near rock. Sure you didn't hit something under the ice?
The Ivanator - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster: Seems like you have a bit of an axe to grind ;-)
SimonCRMC - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to iksander:

I have several MT axes (admittedly not Vertiges) and the colour of the head/pick is much brighter than in your photo. I'm no metallurgist but that seems to support the view that your pick is an inferior replacement.
HTH.
DerwentDiluted - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster:

I'm not the metallurgist of the family but that looks wrong squared. I had an MT axe which had been sharpened on a grinding wheel, it hit rock and the end broke off clean with no deformity suggesting that heat generated in sharpening makes it brittle and therefore less likely to deform. I don't think this is due to heat altered tempering. Looks like poor quality metal and so not original pick.

Diluted, Son of emminent metallurgist. Not much knowledge passed down though!
muppetfilter - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to DerwentDiluted: Im not a metalurgist either but I do work with metal and to do that to steel would require one hell of a whallop with a big hammer than just the weight of the axe.
gethin_allen on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to JohnnyW:
I agree with you on this, it looks like someone has home made a pick because the replacements are so hard to get hold of and the result is this.
ads.ukclimbing.com
wee jamie on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster: I had the same problem with some MT front points on hard water ice. They folded on me! Still got them.

On the bright side, you now have a specialised tool for reaching around corners
Gerry_Doncaster - on 25 Jan 2013
Thanks to everybody for the replies. The axe is a Vertige Alpinist. I'm convinced the pick is an inferior copy. There are no embossed markings on the pick and the surface is covered in thin parallel lines which in hindsight doesn't seem right. I was whacking it into a thin patch of ice so it probably hit something hard underneath but I still don't think it should have bent like it did.

I should have said in my original post that I've also got two much older Mountain Technology axes that have seen a lot of action and never let me down.
Joe G - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster:
Looks like a slightly worrying learing experience!
I made my own pick for a MT Vertige, it didn't look too bad until I used it and discovered the difference between the kind of steel used for making iceaxe heads and the kind used for some old bracket... suffice to say I won't be selling it to anyone!
Joe G - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Joe G: err, I meant learning, not learing, or leering, even if you are showing us pictures of your funny shaped tool on your bed :-)
NottsRich on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster: So is it magnetic?
Misha - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster:
Wow, that's unbelievable! No way a real pick would do that. Suggest sending it to the BMC technical officer for investigation or at least email them the photo.
Roberttaylor - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster: Looks like that pick is made of cheese string.
Gael Force - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster: You've over driven into a rock, must have seen half a dozen like that over the years.
Murko Fuzz - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gael Force:

Likewise. Especially Grivel, whose steel is a wee bit mild and blunts and bends like anything.
elcid on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Murko Fuzz:
Mountain technology were based in Onich and was run by Hugh McNicholl, Hugh moved to Australia a while ago and passed away last August 2012,
Hugh's axes were well made so to see one fail like the one in the picture is strange to say the least. Head replaced? possibly, hit a rock? possibly
Difficult one anyway, contact the seller and see what he says.
steveej - on 25 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster:

I've bent a grivel goulotte pick before now, and I have seen others also.
dankey - on 27 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster: It looks like an inferior copy. I was looking at replacing the picks on my Vertige axe's and came across an article describing the correct hardness and strength required in picks. As i have previously made bushcraft knives in the past i thaught i woult try it.


It basicaly said that 17/4 ph stainless is the correct material to make new picks from.
Nic DW - on 27 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster:

It dosn't look right [the metal]. Only time i've ever seen that before is when someone used a super lightweight alloy ski-touring axe on mixed ground (oops!).

I'd be tempted to report the seller. Tantamount to criminal negligence if it was done knowingly.
Sean Toms - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster:

These must be fake picks , real ones would not deform but simply break.

I have never seen any genuine pick deform like this & I have climbed on lots of different technical axes.

Respectfully , you would be better off saving money on things like buying second user clothing as its just not so critical if its not 100% genuine.
KellyKettle - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to Sean Toms:
> (In reply to Gerry_Doncaster)
>
> Respectfully , you would be better off saving money on things like buying second user clothing as its just not so critical if its not 100% genuine.

Easy to say, but in practice, I know that I simply haven't got the money to justify buying much if anything new... Second hand is a godsend for those on a tight budget, you do however have to accept a certain risk that unless you can give it a thorough visual inspection and hold it in your hand before parting with cash, you may end up with something you'll have to bin... Of course that's actually relatively rare.

Ropes are particularly sketchy, as there's more to miss when inspecting them and as such I'd rather not buy them from someone I didn't trust, especially not sight-unseen.
All the Gear, No Idea on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster: I cant help thinking about this. I would assume pick is a fake, no pick I have ever used/abused or seen used and abused has ever looked like this, and I have seen some shit axes.
First point grinding the pick sharp is NOT necessarily a bad thing to do, if you are careful not to introduce too much heat into the metal , and to lose the temper to this level would result in A loss of so much material it would be f*cking useless after and B discolour it so much warning bells would be ringing LOUD and clear.
So Fake pick seems likely, OK where does that leave the situation, Did the seller know what he/she was selling? if so, they are happy to endanger someones life,,,,,,,why not just hit the buyer on the head with it, Trotsky style?
Advice,,,get a Hammer, not too big, but one you can weild swiftly, find seller of Axe and break all their knuckles with said hammer, and then extract money from their debit card/wallet, explaining that it could have been worse, you could have stuck it in their eye.....
CALM Down, Deep breath,,,,,,,,,
Sebastian Fontleroy - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster:

Well dodgy that pick mate, but the important thing is that you're ok. Personally, i've never bought any item of climbing gear second hand and i never will. Is it worth the risk?
Misha - on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to Sebastian Fontleroy:
You'd think that hardwear with no moving parts like an axe would be ok though! You'd want some photos of the pick in particular to check how battered it is but a fake pick is not something you'd expect...
itsThere on 28 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster: So if you heat it up and cool it slow its soft and malleable. If you heat it put and cool it fast its hard and brittle. I think. This is called tempering. If you sharpen it and it gets hot you can reverse this process. The marks on the side might be from crap machine work.

What i think you might have is a copy which has not been heat treated or the material is not good enough. So you have bent it. If you send the pick off(BMC) they will be able to tell if it is a fake.

If you get an old file and heat it up with a blow torch then drop it in a bucket of water, let it cool. You will be able to break it on the side of a table. Ive seen it done.
Gerry_Doncaster - on 29 Jan 2013
Again, thanks for all the replies. I'm convinced the pick is fake. This has been a learning experience for me. It just never occurred to me before this that there were axes with fake picks out there. Luckily I had one good axe with me at the time (also a Vertige but an older one) so I was able to finish the route safely.

I'll be a lot more careful about buying used gear now and will examine any pick closely before using an axe. If I had a nice 50 grand a year job, I'd buy all my gear brand new, no problem, but I'm self employed and times are hard. If it wasn't for the likes of ebay I wouldn't be able to afford to pursue this wonderful but expensive hobby.

Double Knee Bar - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to itsThere:
> (In reply to Gerry_Doncaster) So if you heat it up and cool it slow its soft and malleable. If you heat it put and cool it fast its hard and brittle. I think. This is called tempering.

To clarify, this isn't called tempering. Thats a water quench after the initial quality HT.
Tempering is a low HT after quenching to reduce brittleness.
stumc - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster: Gerry, I may have access to new, picks for Vertige's, let me have a look and get back to you.
Gerry_Doncaster - on 29 Jan 2013
In reply to stumc: OK Let me know, thanks.
sgiand - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster: Are you absolutely sure the axe is a genuine Vertige? Even my very old Vertiges have neatly recessed Allen bolts to hold the pick in place rather than great clunking bolts with heads and nuts visible on either side of the head as in your photo. Looks like it would give a very uncomfortable carry so I don't see why Mountain Technology would have made a good design worse.
andic - on 30 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster:

If you are interested I would love to take a closer look at that pick, we'd do a few micro-hardness indents and some metalography, maybe some back scatter SEM and x-ray diffraction if anything interesting came out of the light micrscopy? I'm guessing you are in Donny I would do the testing at Sheffield uni so you could even watch if you like, I wont be back from china til march tho
PeteA - on 31 Jan 2013
I still have two Vertige axes and once had the traditional curved pick bend after being twisted as it was stuck in ice. This was an original spec pick as I had taken the recurve off to put on a home made hammer as I couldn't afford two tools at the time. It was not as severe as in the pic of the OP and after being straightened it is still ok 20 years odd later.
PeteA - on 31 Jan 2013
Jim C - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to Stone Muppet:
> I have vertige alpinist axes and despite years of abuse they have never done that.

I work in Procurement, including safety sensitive materials, and we have to watch out for fake products, and of course they target the premium brands as people will pay more for them, so more profit. (No point in faking an inferior product, if you want to make money. )

We find that the manufacturers are very keen to find out what the fakers are up to, so I would let them know, even if it was bought on eBay.
L.A. on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to Jim C: The manufacturers, Mountain Technology, shut down about 10 years ago. The 'demand' for replacement picks must run to about half a dozen a year and declining year on year as more people retire their axes due to the axes age/fashion trends. I really doubt if theres a counterfeit pick operation going on.
My question to the OP would be 'Why on earth would you buy an axe on Ebay that you know must be at least 10 years old, not know its previous history and still expect it to perform?
summo on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to L.A.:
> My question to the OP would be 'Why on earth would you buy an axe on Ebay that you know must be at least 10 years old, not know its previous history and still expect it to perform?

because that company made fantastic axes(for time) with a reknowned build quality? And he is cutting his cloth to suit his budget?
blurty - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster:

I have an old vertige pick you can have, to keep you going. It's old, rusty and has been sharpened a lot. It's only 165mm along the bottom egde. You'll be banging your knuckles I'm afraid. Couldn't post it until next week though.
In reply to summo:

> because that company made fantastic axes(for time) with a reknowned build quality

I worked in a shop and solds of MT tools; they broke as much as any others, particularly the batch of Technicals with name stamped on the blades!
summo on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to TobyA: well mine lasted, until replaced with some Aliens, and that's all that matters in my argument! ;)

I do remember the bolts being a pain to remove at times and loosing some skins from knuckles too.
Gerry_Doncaster - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to summo:
> (In reply to L.A.)
> [...]
>
> because that company made fantastic axes(for time) with a reknowned build quality? And he is cutting his cloth to suit his budget?

Precisely. I already had a Vertige climbing axe and walking axe, both nearly 20 years old that still perform very well to this day so I thought a newer Vertige would be at least as reliable. Also, yes I can't afford to splash out 300 quid on a brand new pair of Quarks or such like so I look for stuff on ebay to suit my limited budget.
rossn - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster: I think you're right, cut from a bit of mild steel plate and probably sand blasted to give it that finished appearance. No tempering etc. Bloody annoying.
RN

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