/ Ice Climbing Novice - First Tools Recommendation ?
Having only done one winter I have fairly recent experiance of this question as it was me last year!
Problem is there are two diametrically opposed camps for the answer!
1) Get the best tool you like and feels good as they will last for ages and will allow you to progress as you do. As read on the Andy Kirkpatrick site.
2) Get any cheep 2nd hand pair as even old style flys and similar, will be able to climb much harder grade than you'll be doing in the near future. This then frees up cash for decent boots and crampons.
I went for the 2nd hand option and am still very happy with my pimped Aztars.
I don't think there is anything wrong with either camp. What I wouldn't do is spend good money on NEW axes that are like the Aztars, Flys etc, when pretty much the same money will get you new Vipers.
If going for option 2 its worth considering if you will want to climb leashless, which is pretty much the norm now a days. If so you may want to try and aquire some axes that have been retrofitted with grip rests (or like the old quarks etc come with them) and have holes somewhere in the bottom of the handle / pummel that lanyards can be clipped in to. Of course you could retro fit these your self but remember to factor in that this will cost you about 30 quid!
Makes Dorsal Arete feel like a IV rather than a VII
He is is being (Oh so) funny, ignore.
I hope to be in the same situation to you next season, if not this one. I can't offer much advice, but I would say go to a shop and give some axes a quick swing about.
I had a play about with Quarks and Vipers just out of interest and, to a novice like myself, found them quite different in feel. The Quarks felt lighter and more balanced, whereas the Vipers felt noticeably weighted towards the head. This would make me lean more towards Quarks, but perhaps someone with a bit more experience could comment on weather a top heavy axe is better for more technical ground, more momentum in the swing etc.?
I was in the same boat, advertised for tech axes on here and bought a pair of Mountain Tech Vertiges. Anything straight shafted with a tech pick is good enough and lets you climb until you figure if you like it and will upgrade, or don't want to. Axes have good resale value too, a pair like mine went recently for over double what I paid for them.
I still have the vertiges as alpine axes and use them leashless now (up to grade V,) so you can climb with straight shafted axes without pinky rests and it is better than using leashes (in my opinion.) "Leashless," walking axes are better than leashed ones too, I don't know why people use them.
I bought these 4yrs ago:
and they're still going strong. they've got me up everything I've thrown at them (from easy gullies to grade 4 ice, grade 5 mixed and everything in between) and been great. for 120 quid you can't go wrong. leashes can be a pain in the arse mind you, so looking at going DIY leashless with them this year, not sure how that'll work out with them though...
I bought a pair of used DMM flys off someone on the forum here a couple of years ago and am still happy with my choice. I haven't been out that much so still happy enough to plod up grade IIs and IIIs, for which they are perfect. If I do decide one day that I want a more curved pair of axes then I can probably sell the Flys on again.
I still use a pair of DMM Predators. Started with leashes, modified to home made clipper leashes, now leashless. Heavy (like swinging a pair of lump hammers), but not always a bad thing.
I have used these axes, for scottish winter up to V, Alpine water ice, even a couple of summer alps trips. In the real world I have never found the limits of these axes.
Get what feels good, its your money. :)
If you can find some Alp Wings, they're great tools--capable of technical climbing but also adaptable and can be stripped down to a basic mountaineering axe.
they are excellent axes tho especially for scottish mixed when they are fitted with the goulotte picks.
Really? I didn't know that! The Goulotte picks are seriously bombproof so maybe if you can find a few spares this won't be so much of an issue. My first set of picks lasted me about three seasons until they wore out.
Only slight negative point about the Goulottes is that for ice climbing they are a bit 'spiky'--sometimes some gentle modification with a file makes them more suitable.
P.S. I even managed to find a massive 'shovel' adze for mine, which turned it into a pretty capable tool for snow bashing as well as more technical stuff.
i have a pair of bent shaft mountain tech vertiges with leashes like new yours for £120
I am selling a pair of DMM Flys with leashes that have been used only a handful of times and in great condition. £145 for the pair posted if you're interested. Fantastic all round axe and very versatile whether on grade 2 or 5.
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