/ Screamer or Extra Screw?
Should I buy another screw (and which size) or my first screamer?
Definitely another screw. Screamers are psychological protection at best, and at those grades you really shouldn't be falling off.
Agree with Jamie, stopped carrying screamers, However extendable slingdraws are great
Was there not some evidence that screamers didn't actually make any difference?
Personally, on water ice, I like Screamers for the 'first' placement off the belay where forces will be highest and any thin or dubious placements on a pitch where you'd feel happier if the forces on the gear were kept to a minimum.
Edit: but in relation to your question, I'd go for another screw or two over Screamers
In my experience, have never placed a 10 or 13cm on anything less than say V, if the ice was too thin, it wasn't in V condition!!
You would possibly be better with some hooks, maybe even a deadman for snow gullys. Experience gained climbing many such routes with what you already have, will help you decide what pieces are invalueable on such a winter rack!!
My first post here, so hello. Ive been living in Colorado and been on ice a lot using screamers in the past 6 seasons. But first purchase should be ice screws, build your rack - ice screws last forever, im still using some over 15 years old. Screamers do work (look at anyone working in three point harnesses on high steel buildings) and work very well from personal experience. However they are far from essential, particularly if you climb with double ropes. 13 to 16cm are great and very handy, my long screws (I carry two) get mostly used for V threads. Get out there and enjoy ever climb! Good luck
Welcome to ukc - it's all down hill from here!
Good points made in your post.
Indeed, welcome to UKC.
Thanks for all the replies. The main thinking was for the screamer was to protect the belay. The rest of my winter rack is up to scratch, as last year I was doing mainly snow and mixed routes.
I'll pick up an extra 13cm screw in that case and leave the screamer for when I'm climbing more tenuous stuff.
I bought a screamer two years ago and it's never left my rack in winter or summer. It's like bottled confidence and IMHO worth the purchase if you envisage being scared above gear in any situation. Though admittedly it only works if you've enough gear to clip it to!
My two cents.
I wouldn't use one to protect the belay, you may end up tearing it if your partner takes a rest. The best way to protect the belay is to make sure that you are in the system and take part of the load before the belay (ensuring that there is no slack...)
I'd recommend a 22cm screw as they are the strongest for belays and most useful for making ice threads. I wouldn't be that keen on buying anything shorter than 16cm either, as you can tie off longer screws but you can't extend short ones.
You may well be aware of this already but since you mention tying off screws…
Just to complete the argument - I'd go for a 16cm as the standard 'decent screw' length. In the UK you'll be lucky to find ice thick enough for a 22 and even if you do, there will probably be a better alternative belay. If not, your 19 will have to do. Don't think I've ever carried a 22 in Scotland anyway - fat water ice thingy really IMHO.
A bulldog/hook is useful. You might want to consider a 'get out of gaol' kit of a bulldog, a blade peg and another peg that is a bit thicker than both of those. You'll use the bulldog and be very grateful for the others when you need them.
Screamers - first screw north of the belay gets a screamer. It might do nothing, but on the other hand it might, and anything that prevents a leader fall onto a rubbish belay is a winner. I have not tested one, and have absolutely no desire to do so. It's part of my little psychological shell. I have a second screamer - that goes onto poor gear that might stand a chance, or on more decent gear that looks like it might become very lonely.
I don't think they meant put one in the belay (does anyone do that?) but by putting one on the first bit of gear you put in after the belay. I think BD did some research on this didn't they? For their KP testing blog? The idea being you really should never fall directly onto the belay, so should get some gear in ASAP and then put a screamer on that.
I've actually fallen onto an ice screw with a screamer attached and half activated the screamer - it wasn't a big fall. On short steep ice routes where I climb, I'm never sure whether a screamer is a good idea (short routes, little rope out so high impact forces and likelihood of hitting the ground) or bad (short routes, stretchy ropes + 60 cms of activated screamer = hitting the ground?).
You're probably right, but I've built them into belays before.
...but BD have! http://blackdiamondequipment.com/en/qc-lab-to-screamer-or-not-to-screamer.html and it looks very much like you're doing exactly the right thing.
"I wouldn't be that keen on buying anything shorter than 16cm"
Tied off screws are not as good, plus they are extra hassel when pumped. Having climbed a fair bit in recent years in the lakes / snowdonia I'm very glad I own some screws less than 16cm as on many of the routes having ice deep enough to get anything longer than 13cm in can be a rareity!
Agree with CurlyStevo. Even in Scotland I find it is unusual to find all screw placements on a route to be of ideal thickness. One or two 13cm screws are very handy as I dislike standing around on steep ice trying tie off a screw, much preferring just to have one the correct length on the rack.
Cheers for that, Will Gadds comment that "I carry mostly 13cm screws with one 19 for threads, maybe a few 16s for grins, and a some stubbies," interests me most because I have always wanted 16cm screws as standard and 22cm for threads, belays and for the start of a steep section. I've never trusted short screws that much and would rather run it out with bigger screws in between than stop to place more short screws, especially as I imagine that I will need the gear more on less perfect ice than on good ice!
On fresh or chewy water ice the pull test data for the shorter screws shows they are fine from what I remember. I'm sure google will turn up the results. I guess if your ice climbing is mainly Scotland, your opinions on screws may differ from Gadd's - based on North American water ice - for obvious reasons.
Ofcourse sometimes the outer ice is more brittle or not very well bonded to the layer underneath (or both!). Last year in cogne there had been Föhn winds a week or two before our visit with a very cold spell after this. This has lead to meltwater creating a 10cm thick ice layer that was very brittle and seperated quite easily from the layer below. The smaller screws really didnt feel very bomber unless you cleared back this layer which was a right hassle.
Also with smaller screws I reckon you have to be extra vigalent flattening out the ice surface whilst with good thick ice a 19cm screw can be more safely just drilled in and clipped.
Id get the 13cm screw.
Personally I find racking a whole bunch of different lengths confusing and annoying. I've recently sold almost all of my old screws and will be rebuilding almost exclusively with 13cm BD Express, as I've found that to be the best balance between reassurance and likelihood of not bottoming out, in Scotland at least. Add one longer for belays and one stubby for desperation and that's me sorted.
That sounds brave to me! But it goes to show how much we come to think of what we know as "normal". When I bought my screws there were just three sizes from BD - stubby, medium, and long. I've had 4 BD mediums (17 cms?) for over a decade and very much come to think of them as normal. I guess my stubby is more like 11 or 12, and that's for 'special occasions'. I think it would take some time to me to get used to only having 13s - but then if its good enough for Gadd, I'm sure it's good enough for me. :)
Realised I'm having a (hungover) brainfart this morning. I meant 16cm.
That's what struck me about the Gadd article and the stats from the BD testing. 13cm screws SEEM to be suitable where I would normally want something bigger. I really don't know if I have the guts to put it to practise though. Especially on ice, which puts the shivers up me anyway...
Good Morning Jamie!
I have done a very similar thing, sold my BD 19cm's and brought 16cm. Again, like Jamie I find having different lengths a faff so I keep them on different clippers. Two 19cm, two 13cm rest are 16cm BD express.
I do like a few screamers, one for the first piece of gear of the belays then one more for the scary gear or if I know I shall be running it out.
Every bits helps!
>I wouldn't use one to protect the belay, you may end up tearing it if your partner takes a rest.
Screamers kick in with 4kn of force so you'd have to be climbing with a WWE wrestler for this to happen. 4kn equates to a hanging weight of 400kg; removing this impact from any placement is always attractive to me. I'm not religious about 1st runner if the it's bomb proof anyway as I'd rather keep for the unknown above. I use 2 in summer and winter for any routes I don't know well.
Screws- One point that hasn't been mentioned is that short screws are far less likely to topple out after that crucial first twist when placing single-handed (think centre of gravity).
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