/ One handed placing of ice screws

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Roberttaylor - on 09 Feb 2013
This is something that I seem to struggle with. Mostly the issue is getting the damned things started, a couple of times recently I have bashed them with my hammer to get them going. What I am looking for is

Advice on how to place screws quickly on steep ground using one hand.
Recommendations for screws that are really easy to place (using BD turbo express atm)

R
Dan Arkle - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Roberttaylor:

use your pick to create a 1-2cm deep hole and start them in that.
Most brands of screws are ok if they are new and sharp, I always save my sharpest screws for the pumpy bits.
Dan Arkle - on 09 Feb 2013
and placing them low, at waist or belly height makes it easier to apple force into the ice.
GridNorth - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Roberttaylor: BD Express and Grivel are both easy to place. Plant an axe well and hang from it at arms length, put your rope over the head or clip into the base of the pick for additional security as the action of placing the screw tend to push you off. Aim to place the screw somewhere between your chest and your waist so you can get your body weight behind it. Don't be tempted to place too high. Put your hand over the head of the screw and rotate left and right several times to get a hole started. (some people start a hole with the pick but I have never found this necessary) With your hand in the fully rotated, anti clockwise direction and rotated as far as is comfortable push and turn clockwise until the screw begins to bite, Grip the handle and screw in all the way.
Roberttaylor - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Roberttaylor: Thanks Dan. Hadn't thought use the pick to make a starting hole, think I was placing them too far to the side to get any real force behind them as well.
9Stevo - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Roberttaylor: yeah you wanna place them right by the hip so you can really drive them in dont be tempted to try to place them head height so theyre above you it will just take a lot more time and hence energy. a starter hole followed by a couple of well driven half turns should be enough to get a sharp screw going in most ice, then get it spun in as quick as possible.
Dave Williams - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Roberttaylor:

The type of screw you're trying to place is also a factor as are the gloves you're wearing, not to mention the hardness and quality of the ice are other relevant factors.

Because of their head design, I find Grivel 360s to be a bit of a faff to get started compared to others. I also think that DMM screws have the most ergonomic head of all current screws and so are the easiest to get started - and I've placed BD Express/Turbo, Petzl, Camp, Grivel Helix/360 and DMM, not to mention Russian titanium ...

Without wishing to teach you to suck eggs, another suggestion is to find an icefall that you can easily stand next too and simply practise placing screws.

Dave
niallk on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Graham Stephenson:
> (In reply to Roberttaylor) yeah you wanna place them right by the hip so you can really drive them in.

Usual bumbly, IMO caveats apply, but I would concur. Right next to the side of you, without being inbetween your body and the ice (which pushes you away and reduces the force/leverage you can apply).

Ideally spot a decent stance or ice for screws and chip the hole mentioned earlier when you're below it and is at axe-swinging height. Move up, place bomber tool and then the screw. Obviously, it doesn't always work out that way.

I think it's something worth practicing. For the most part, the steep sections in Scotland are pretty short and with a bit of confidence you can avoid having to place any screws on them (instead doing so on easier-angled section immediately beforehand). So it can come as a bit of a shock on longer sections or harder/bluer ice.

The first time I got on a sightly longer patch of steep ice (Peter Pan with hard ice at the time) I really struggled with screws, ran it out and was the most scared I've been on an ice route.
niallk on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to niallk:

And to add to that - twisting the screw back and forth at the start can deepen the hole you've chipped and cut a better channel for it to bite before you nervously take your hand off for the next twist...
GridNorth - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Roberttaylor: That first releasing or slackening of the grip on the screw can be nerve racking and is probably the moment when you are most likely to drop it. I used some Grivel Speedy ice screws last week. Removal was much safer but putting them in is not as straight forward and foolproof as the Stevie Haston video makes it out to be. What looks easy on a sanitized flat surface without gloves is complicated by the reality of uneven ice, cold hands and gloves. I do however like the idea of not having to carry as many QD's.
a lakeland climber on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Dan Arkle:

Yup, think of the classic western gun-slinger pose - that's about the position you want to be putting them in.

ALC
iksander on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Roberttaylor: This is the sum of my inexpert opinion.

Racking your gear well really helps. I have a few screws and QDs on either side of my harness. Know where everything is before you set off.

Get really good foot placements and hang straight armed in an A shape, off your less dextrous hand if possible. Choose a spot that between nipple and hip height. Make sure it's as good ice as possible, placing a screw in crappy ice is a waste of time and energy. Concave placements of solid ice are the strongest. Clean the placement til it's solid and you have enough flat surface to sink the screw to the handle (less if it's a 360). Chop a little "x" with your pick to reduce the chance of the screw skating around before it bites.

Try and gauge how thick the ice is and choose the longest screw you have that you're confident won't bottom out on rock. Personally I think it is a fallacy that shorter screws are meaningfully quicker to place, you're talking about less than 1-2 seconds difference between a 22 and 10cm screw. IMHO looping the rope over the head or handle of the axe is risky and should only be a last resort.

Practising at the foot of a route is a great idea.
GridNorth - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to iksander: I only place the rope over the head of the axe when it is very steep and I am pumped but I'm not sure what you mean when you say it's risky? Please explain.
iksander on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to GridNorth: It's just my opinion, and as a last resort it's better than falling off. But better still not to put extra slack rope in the system and faff around with quickdraws to clip your tool. Many tools don't have a head that suitable for looping the rope over, and I'm not convinced this adds much security as it would seem easy to dislodge. Plus the tool of the tool is pretty sharp should it slip down that way. Assuming you're leashless, wouldn't it be better to swap hands momentarily and have a little shake out?
steveshaking - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to iksander: I've the suggestion but not actually done it of clipping a quick draw onto the tool spike, then the rope into the qd. Then place screw and transfer the qd to the screw. Its only only extra step and a safer bet perhaps than rope of tool head depending on tool etc - an alternative anyway?
GridNorth - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to steveshaking: I have Quarks which are suitable for this but sometimes I just hook the rope over the horn on the pick which answers the objection with regard to the slack in the system. My memory may be faulty but I'm sure there was one manufacturer who designed an axe head with this specifically in mind. For me it's just a bit of added security as and when it's required, usually on long steep pitches of WI4 and above. I acknowledge that none of the components used are designed to be load bearing but we are only talking about body weight, if that and I can't think of a valid reason not to do it. But one never knows :-).

To ikSander: If it was easy to dislodge, I assume you mean the axe, I wouldn't ice climb, after all a well placed pick quite often does take near as dammit your body weight.
neil the weak - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to GridNorth:
I acknowledge that none of the components used are designed to be load bearing but we are only talking about body weight, if that and I can't think of a valid reason not to do it. But one never knows :-).
>
> To ikSander: If it was easy to dislodge, I assume you mean the axe, I wouldn't ice climb, after all a well placed pick quite often does take near as dammit your body weight.

It was DMM who made the axes with that in mind, but that was quite a long time ago now and they don't do that anymore. I'm not necessarily knocking the technique (though I never do it) but if you did fall off we're certainly not talking just bodyweight onto the axe, it'll be your weight, plus the belayers, plus the slump if you flop off unexpectedly, so you're looking at a few kn at least.
It might also be worth bearing in mind that the outward force on the pick will likely be greater from having the rope over the top of the axe than you pulling on the base of the handle, making the placement that much more likely to rip. If you don't believe that try choking up very high on every placement you make and see if you can feel a differnece in security...
GridNorth - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to neil the weak: I'm not talking about weighting it. It's a just in case, like a piece of marginal gear and placed on the basis that in most instances anything is better than nothing if you fall. With regard to forces on the pick, don't you ever perfom what is essentially a mantel shelf on the head, I know I do and it feels totally secure. We will have to agree to disagree on this, I think it's good practice and will continue to do it.
vscott - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Roberttaylor: lots of good advice - if you place at your hip you can often hold the screw in during the initial turn with your hip allowing you to shift your hand to turn again.
Dave Williams - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to neil the weak:
> (In reply to GridNorth)
>

> It was DMM who made the axes with that in mind ...

DMM Predators to be exact - http://www.tribevine.com/product/11591/DMM+Climbing/Predator+(Discontinued)

The well-designed and functional rope groove is easily visible and it worked really well too. I often used to loop a rope over the top of one of my my Predators when placing a screw, but wouldn't dream of doing so now with my Nomics.

Dave
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AdrianC - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Roberttaylor: The screw's threads are your best friend. Do everything you can to get them engaged in the ice as quickly as possible, including making a starter hole with your pick, using your previous pick placement (this often works well as you already cleared away the dinner-platey ice from the surface when you placed your tool there) & using hollows in the ice.

Make sure your screws are sharp - it makes a big difference. You'll find sharpening instructions if you google and my top tip is to take a couple of close-up photos of the business end of a brand new screw so you have a pattern to work to when you're sharpening them.

Whilst I've clipped the rope into a tool above me as a last resort rather than falling off, I'm very careful not to load the tool dynamically - there's a fair chance it'll either rip out or even break. Personally I think that unless you're really about to fall off, you're better to keep the screw-placement process as clean and simple as possible with a minimum of additional steps.
neil the weak - on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to GridNorth: Fair enough. I still think that if you want your high axe to serve a piece of backup pro during screw placement than a quickdraw into the clip point at base of handle is better, but each to their own.
GridNorth - on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to neil the weak: I don't disagree I'm just describing a number of alternative options both of which can be quicker and easier if you are pressed.
GridNorth - on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to GridNorth: I'll take that back. If I was pressed and thought a fall was likely I would clip the axe with a cows tail to minimise the forces. The other scenario really is just in case of an unforseen slip.
Sean Toms - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Dan Arkle:


Hey Dan what is Apple Force is this a winter new technique ? must try it

rossn - on 11 Feb 2013
In reply to Roberttaylor: Dans right. Putting in at waist height also means you dont have to draw up handful of slack to clip it which can cause a bigger drop if you fall off in the process.

RN

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