/ Ice/Mixed/Scottish Axe Axe Suggestions?
I am wanting to get involved with Scottish winter climbing next year and go to the Alps again in the summer with a view on getting in to mixed and winter ice climbing. I was hoping that someone would tell me a well regarded pair of axes that I could use and not be overkill at the start but what i wouldn't expect to want to replace quickly either. I looked at the Quarks but also the Nomics by Petzl. Either of these or are they both overkill?
Obviously, other recommendations would be welcome.
You can't go wrong with DMM Fly's. Great to start on as not too extreme so nice and variable. Bomb proof axes. And still do you on steeper stuff too as you get better.
I've got quarks. I think they are brilliant. Good for everything from a steep walk to hard mixed. But go swing some in a shop and see what you like.
DMM are bringing out some new axes for the Winter so I would wait for them before making a choice. If you are going to the Alps this summer I would borrow a pair and see how you get on before committing £300 to something that you don't get on with.
I say this in hindsight as I spent a lot of cash upgading my Alp Wings for this winter to something less than perfect. Now I have an idea of the set up I am after I will shop with vigour this autumn.
However, feel free to completely ignore that advice as it is a law nature that 95% of climbers can't resist shiny kit.
FWIW I climb grade V ice and grade VI mixed fairly happily with a 17 year old pair of Mountain Tech Vertiges that I've spent £20 on by adding Grivel Triggers and use leashless with a Grivel spring leash.
if you're thinking between quarks or similar and nomics and you are comparing prices, consider that quarks come with hammer and adze as standard whereas nomics you have to buy them seperately. Off the top of my head 40 quid each.
Personally I'm quite happy without an adze and certainly wouldnt want to climb harder mixed with one on but can be very useful on easier stuff and in the alps. Hammer is essential for me.
As for which axes, I have nomics and use them on routes in the alps as well as scottish winter from II upwards...I'd agree with whats been said above in that you should probably just get a cheap pair for your first ones (i had a pair of bent shaft pulsars for my first season) though saying that id still go leashless...its just generally more fun and less hassle.
If you want brand spankers then if you're expecting to be climbing up to around scottish grade V I'd say quarks/vipers that sort of ball park. If you're thinking more long term and want to be climbing harder than V then nomics will really come into there own.
Hope this helps
I use Quarks as I like Ice and Gully/ mountain type mixed. I Like to carry the hammer on summer mountaineering too.
My husband likes to do a bit of that overhanging type mixed too and swears by Nomics. Not as useful as an apline tool ( won't plunge etc) but he's not really into things that aren't steep.
What do you think you'll really do?
why bother getting a cheaper axe that the user will resent. I have climbed with loads of people who took your advice from someone and regretted it pretty soon after because they weren't technical enough for the routes they were doing/wanting to do.
If you are spending £100+ on something you might as well future proof your purchase by buying something that will cover most bases rather than the lower level stuff.
I suppose you'd recommend they get a pair of B2 boots over the not-much-more expensive B3's just in case they don't like the sport? it's just not logical to do so as they will only grow to want to do more stuff that's beyond the boots. and if they don't, they can always sell it on to recoup some money back. the same applies to axes - they are an asset, not a commodity.
If someone is an f8a/E6 climber then it is perfectly obvious that they should just buy a brand new pair of Nomics or similar as they can perfectly safely jump on Grade VII mixed routes as they have the depth of technical skills to protect that sort of terrain and are pretty unlikely to actually fall off anything.
Equally if someone if a really solid HVS-E2 trad leader, in theory, they should be jumping straight on grade IV/V and will not need to worry overly much about adzes or plunging for more general mountaineering use. A second hand pair pair of Quarks would be ideal.
However, in my experience, that rarely happens. For UK recreational climbers who are starting out, even if they are technically capable of climbing grade V in short order, the vast majority end up spending a disproportionate amount of bit of time on grade II/III routes whilst they get a hang of things. This is due to many factors, including:
- there is a very steep learning and even 'easy' Winter routes never feel that easy, meaning climbers are readily discouraged from a quick progression to trying harder routes.
- climbers are trying to learn new skills in an unstructured and stressful environment so struggle.
- there is a general tendency to play it safe in marginal conditions or poor weather.
- conditions are more reliable for that grade, especially late season.
- the most accessible locations having quality lines at that grade.
- there is often more information available about what is in condition at that grade.
A decent adze, the ability to plunge and an axe the lends itself to being used singly on mountaineering style routes would therefore be more useful, although by no means essential on the routes many climbers actually attempt. Set against that is that fact that most of those climbers actually want to get past the grade II/III stage and onto classic grade IV/V routes. The two best ways of doing that are professional instruction or spending more time climbing, both of which are generally expensive.
I am sure some climbers, if given the choice, would prefer to be climbing Point 5, Smiths Route or Indicator Wall with a battered old pair of Flys after spending several hundred quid on a week of instruction with a MIC/Guide rather climbing Tower Scoop off their own back with a shiny pair of Nomics. Or, as seems to be the case most Winter weekends, making an utter horrlicks of climbing Tower Ridge with £1000 worth more climbing equipment that is either needed or indeed sensible.
You can easily pick up a cheap pair of quarks or something on here, have a couple of seasons out of them and not expect to make much of a loss when selling them on. The ability to plunge and have the adze in his first couple of seasons will far outweigh the advantages of having a more aggressive tool.
And no I wouldnt recommend he get B2 boots instead of B3, nice one for the assumption though. I suppose you're the type of person that tells people if your rock shoes dont hurt they arent small enough? No i dont actually think you're that type of person, I'm just making a point that you can't judge peoples views on all gear purchases based on one.
Wow, thanks for all the opinions shared on here, lots to think about!
Second hand isn't really something I'm interested in as far as climbing goes. I tend to buy quality new and I'm happy with that. Money isn't the factor here so i'd rather pay £400 for something ideal then £200 for something that isn't.
Great debate though, i'll let you know. I dare not ask about crampons!
This way a quality set of do-it-all second hand tools will allow you to get that experience and decide what will be best for you a few seasons down the line. You can then sell them on, or keep them as a second pair for your mates, and get the right tools.
Same goes for crampons.
Check the grivel tech wings nice and light. And u can buy them in carbon fibre for full climbing bling effect
For the approaches and easier climbs up to Scottish Grade 2 or Alpine PD a single alpine style axe with curved shaft will do. Axes such as Grivel Evo Airtechs or Petzl Sum'tecs will be much safer on easier ground and fine for easy climbing.
For harder climbing you can pair the axe up with a hammer or other axe for the easier snow and ice climbs.
Above Grade 2/3 most modern axes and hammers are petty good and it makes very little difference which one, apart from weight and whether thay have been sharpened, until you are climbing Grade 4/5 and above.
The new Quarks are very similar to the old Petzl Aztars but lighter/flimsier but still a good all round tool.
The Petzl Nomic's are good for vertical rock and ice. They are pretty crap, dare I say dangerous, for the approaches and all the easier angled snow stuff and corniced exits...
The ice tools I mention are the ones I like and use and while I own the Nomic's I'll very rarely use them on anything other than Grade 5 alpine water ice and above!
The New Quarks are a much more useful tool in most situations while the old Quarks were better for the harder stuff that I'll now use the Nomic's for...
Basically, you have the same issue as with axes; what is great for grade V upwards is less good for easy routes and vice versa.
In this case the main issues are the design of front points, cost and weight. For general use, crampons with twin horizontal front points are ideal, much cheaper and lighter. However, for the most technical climbing, forged, vertical (and replaceable) front points are much better with many favoring a 'mono-point' set-up.
However, in this case, my advice is a far more straight-froward - go for technical crampons straight away.
As far as I am concerned the above advice on spending priorities is spot on - prioritise boots and crampons over protection and axes.
I never at any point during a winter or a month of new routing in Tien shan think to myself "I wish I had quarks instead". With an adze and hammer they are a very competent mountaineering axe which climbs extraordinarily well on all terrain. The only thing that they don't do well is low angled ice but that would be the angle good french technique would be better anyway
*quark can be interchanged with matrix tech or vipers if you will.
ive never missed an adze on my nomics or anything that a quark will do for that matter...
Boots and crampons would be yet another long thread...
For me, Grivel Airtechs for walking, alpine approaches and easy mixed.
Grivel G12's for everything else and Petzl Dart or Dartwin for steep hard water ice.
G14's and similar are far too heavy and clumsy on easy ground.
If I had to buy only one set of crampons for everything my first choice would be the G12's or similar.
I am in the same boat , we are hoping to get out this winter , my daughter and I , have done a bit of dry tooling , but are now looking to buy our first axes ..
I have been debating with myself over the same things , but cost is a considered factor as I have to buy two sets .. I have been thinking about dmm fly's am told there one of the best top selling winter axes and should see me well for some time , I would like the quarks but I am able to buy two set of flys for £360 ..
I was told that you can fit horns to them and go leash less too…
Just go for the BD Reactors I linked above. I was actually thinking about you and your thread when I saw the advert for them. If you want to climb leashless they are much better then flies which were never designed for that. They are really solid all-rounders.
Mine in action on ice: http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=161099 http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=176746 and for mixed: http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=191252
They are fine on the equivalent of Scottish II as well and have a metal spike at the bottom so work fine when walking with them, but then here's a talented climber (so not me!) using them on a classic VIII! http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=110460
That said, the good news is that there is now an axe available that is absolutely ideal for young female climbers - the Petzl Sum'Tec.
They are a really lovely axe and I would encourage you to have a close look at them. They are also not that expensive.
You can get a pair of BD Vipers for £220 online.
Buy good gear first time round or buy twice (i.e don't buy DMM flys or similar).
There is very little in the argument for less technical tools on less steep terrain. The only less steep terrain (grade I) you'll be on when climbing will be the approach slope, which is walking and you're not buying a tool suited to getting you up the approach slope. You are buying the tools for climbing, buy some proper leashless climbing tools - using them for their intended purpose will be a better experience than with a less technical model.
I can lead HVS as I can easily onsight French 5+ and do Font 5+ bouldering moves!
Does this mean I should be able to on a 1:1 course at say Plas Y Brenin lead Scottish Winter IV-V?
Have you tried MT Vertiges? A classic axe and you should be able to pick them up quite cheap.
The New Quarks are the same shape as the old Quark but with the Lightness of the Aztar.
I had aztars as I liked the weight being Petite and sold them s as I found on steep ice i prefer the more aggressive angle and the Hook/ Rest of Quarks as Leashless is so much less pumpy. The day the Lighter version came out I sold my old quarks and upgraded. I think the new Quark is the best of both worlds for alpine to ice.
If I were wanting to climb only Ice I'd go the Nomic, as the Bigger curve is nicer on Bulgy bits, but it dosn't really cross to alpine and I prefer all mountain stuff myself.
Before I bought my Quarks I had a swing of the Grivels and the Vipers, totally different swing because of the weight and the centre of gravity.
> Does this mean I should be able to on a 1:1 course at say Plas Y Brenin lead Scottish Winter IV-V?
Why would you want to jump straight on leading at that grade? In theory you would likely be fit enough but winter climbing is a different kettle of fish and winter climbing is usually the smallest part of winter climbing if that makes sense? Start at the bottom and work your way up. If you have never been out in winter before you should learn the basics of snowcraft first before you start into hard climbing. Lot's of classic II and III routes to cut your teeth on.
Go into a shop and try various models and see what feels *right* when you swing them. It's different for everyone so even if folk on here are saying X is the axe to go for, it may be completely wrong for you. Of course since you don't appear to have much experience in this area it might be hard to objectively tell the various models apart.
Don't be hoodwinked in to having to have the latest and greatest, remember that the classic routes were put up and regularly climbed with kit that many on here wouldn't consider for a walk down to the shops. Yes modern kit is better, but don't think that you won't be able to climb without it. My last (unmatched) pair of axes lasted 26 years, climbed Scottish VI with them, basically couldn't get spare picks, etc. so when I lost one I got a new pair (DMM Rebels) which will do me for a while.
Given the grades that you are climbing (and are likely to be climbing for the next few years) I would avoid a super curved technical axe such as the Ergo and Nomic, and instead go for a moderately curved technical axe e.g. Quark or Viper.
If you are climbing in Scotland and the Alps you will invariably have to use your axe on snow slopes and over glaciers, on this kind of terrain you want / need an axe that you can plunge easily, arrest with easily and even belay from easily. You can't do any of these things safely and easily with the Ergo and Nomic.
The Quarks and Vipers climb ice and mixed REALLY well and will not be the limiting factor. Just ask Iain Small (he climbs grade IX with Vipers)
I recognise that we ALL like the sexy super technical axes to look at and to play with, but it's important to remember that at the end of the day axes (and the rest of your kit) are just tools whose job is it keep you safe. Quark / Vipers are safer all rounders, and much better when used for self arrest, belay, walking.
If and when your climbing grade VII+ or stuff like this:
then I think a more technical tool might be a good idea.
Until then if your climbing stuff like this:
then I Vipers or Quarks are your best bet.
I've used Vipers and Quarks, I prefer Vipers for ice and Quarks for mixed but they are both great axes for both to be honest.
I hope that helps,
ps The Outdoor Shop.com have quarks on offer at the moment:
> I can lead HVS as I can easily onsight French 5+ and do Font 5+ bouldering moves!
> Does this mean I should be able to on a 1:1 course at say Plas Y Brenin lead Scottish Winter IV-V?
That would be interesting.
The Big Man wouldn't know what crud ice is..
> FWIW I climb grade V ice and grade VI mixed fairly happily with a 17 year old pair of Mountain Tech Vertiges that I've spent £20 on by adding Grivel Triggers and use leashless with a Grivel spring leash.
I love my MT axes... bombproof
It just so happens I have a pair for sale; good nick, just don't get used.
They are Vertige 600s, with new banana picks and very serviceable alpine picks, also some spare picks, adze/hammers and bolts. I'll rummage in the shed and find out exactly what.
> The Big Man wouldn't know what crud ice is..
I'm touched that you felt the need to register on 12th of Aug simply to have a cheep dig. Still a stalker i see
Keepin it real Big Man....
It all comes down to budget and personal preference.
However, there is probably a more serious debate to be had about the suitability of leashless tools when starting winter climbing. They can be very expensive when dropped down down the side of the Ben.
I have butterfingers at the best of times and still like to be attached to my axes.
Just picked up a pair of hardly used CAMP awax for less than £100 from e-bay. Feel good, are light and perform well in the old tree in my garden.
The Epi-centre has a good deal on these at the moment.
Quarks for me too.
Consider paying a bit extra and adding the pick weights.
Looking forward to winter, lets hope it's a good one
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