/ First pair of axes

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StanRIDE - on 13 Nov 2012
Hi,

Just wondering if anyone can give me some advice on the best first pair of ice axes for mixed routes in the Lake District and Scotland. I'm looking at doing some lower grade gullies and progress on to the steeper more technical stuff. I've been advised 3 different axes, first the petzl quark, second dmm fly and finally the new dmm raptor. I'm now slightly confused. I want an axe which will also allow me to self arrest efficiently but also climb the more technical routes as I progress. Any suggestions would be greatful thanks.
koolkat - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to StanRIDE:
i have a pair of mountain tech vertige bent shaft like new yours for 120
outdoorsjoe - on 13 Nov 2012
Ive used a pair of DMM Fly in Scotland and various other places for the last couple of seasons. Climbed routes up to grade 5. Couldn't fault them. Plus you can get deals in a lot of places now with DMM having released the new colour and models.

http://www.joe-brown.com/outdoor-equipment/dmm_fly_axe_and_hammer_pair_deal

CurlyStevo - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to StanRIDE:
You have a choice either:
Second hand axes from yesteryear that have been (or with the view to) converted to leashless lanyard system (have a grip rest and somewhere on the bottom of the axe to clip a lanyard to) for 100 pounds a pair or less (you can by new flys for 160 a pair just now so I wouldn't buy second hand for over 100). You'll probably end up selling these axes on after a few seasons use as you'll want something more technical, so its good to buy something that will retain second hand value.

Or a new pair of more technical leashless axes such as the Quarks or Vipers (etc). You are probably best to steer clear of things with a handle and without a proper spike on the bottom for your first axes (like the nomics, although I suspect as time goes on more and more axes will look like this). I'd personally go down this route if you can afford it and you are pretty sure you are going to get in to winter climbing. Its what I did and I never regret it, as I am still climbing with the same axes 7 years on so it's basically saved me money!
iksander on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to StanRIDE: Not many "bad" axes around these days (avoid Hornets though) - there was someone (no relation or recommendation) selling BD Reactors for 170 - they would be my recommendation if you have some ambitions, but not overkill for easier stuff either.
neuromancer - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to StanRIDE:

Sorry to hijack the thread, but I have a question that fits and it saves starting a new one. Been offered a set of DMM Fly's; well used, anodising worn on most of the shaft and tape fraying (but easily replacable). Picks have lost ~two teeth off the end from sharpening but have approx three/three and a half left each (these are the small teeth right at the end). Needs a sharpen. 50. Worth it for a starter scottish mountaineering axe and to learn to ice climb?
CurlyStevo - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to neuromancer: If you are happy the axes are not so abused the safety it likely to be affected (it is very rare you hear of axes failing) then this sounds like a good deal. The picks will be fine after a sharpen for a few seasons yet and as you say the tape can be replaced. You can use self amalgamating tape for this which is super cheap to buy from a plummers although not as hard wearing as the original tape.

Do they come with leashes? or perhaps leashless conversions?
south west stew - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to StanRIDE: i still have the BD reactors for sale 160 +10 P&P photos can be sent
lithos on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to neuromancer:

yes for that cash, and you could replace the picks *reasonably* cheaply (26 quid each)
if you feel the need. I even have some new picks in my cupboard i could do a deal on - if i can find em !

http://www.needlesports.com/Catalogue/Winter-Climbing-Equipment/Ice-Axes/Ice-Axe-Spares/DMM/Fly-Pick...
CurlyStevo - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to lithos:
Two teeth lost shouldn't be a problem though for the first couple of seasons especially seeing as the end of the pick on flys is straight for quite a long way (although it does depend exactly how good a deal you are going to do ;). I'd personally use the cash to retro fit grip rests on to them and buy a leashless lanyard based system. So much less faff than leashes.
neuromancer - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to CurlyStevo:

They come with both clipper leashes and normal leashes but have not been converted.
CurlyStevo - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to neuromancer:
quite a bargain IMO!

Clipper leashes are definately a step in the right direction for reducing faff.
neuromancer - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to neuromancer:

The normal leashes are the dmm ones, the clipper leashes are a set of grivel double spring leashes in great condition but worn krabs.
CurlyStevo - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to neuromancer:
"grivel double spring leashes"
these are not clipper leashes they are leashless lanyards! It shouldn't matter if the krabs are worn if the gates still operate ok (plus you can change them).

All you need is to fit grip rests and your off.

This table should help you:
http://www.needlesports.com/Catalogue/Winter-Climbing-Equipment/Ice-Axes/Ice-Axe-Accessories
Nath93 - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to neuromancer: I just bought a pair of DMM fly's, one older model in metallic green and another in Matt grey. Both of them are well used and scratched up and have rusting on the picks but just need a bit of a sharpen. They still feel solid though, I got mine for 60 and i'm happy with that. I'd take them while they were available !
neuromancer - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to CurlyStevo:

Sorry, then they come with dmm leashes and grivel lanyards.
a lakeland climber on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to StanRIDE:

It doesn't matter what other people think of axes, it's how they feel in *your* hands. We've all got slightly different length upper and lower arms and what feels right for one person might be totally wrong for another. Head in to a shop and try them out (being careful where you swing them of course).

Modern axes are considerably better than the models from ten or fifteen years ago, which themselves were more than good enough for virtually every climber and which were better than the models from another decade earlier. Even these dinosaurs were more than good enough for grade V or VI. My first Grade V on the Ben was done with this http://www.smhc.co.uk/objects_item.asp?item_id=31977 and an equivalent hammer.

Listening to some on here you might think that you need a 200 ice axe to pick your nose with!

ALC
CurlyStevo - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to neuromancer:
Yeah if you are happy they are still in safe condition they are an absolute bargain.
CurlyStevo - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to a lakeland climber:
Whilst what you are saying is right, my experience is that most people progressing to grade IV / V, pretty quickly upgrade their tools to something like the quarks, nomics, or vipers (I bet you have some ;).

If you are pretty keen and are likely to get to this level it doesn't make sense either economically or in terms of having to adapt to new axes to start on a less technical set of axes.
a lakeland climber on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to CurlyStevo:

I upgraded to DMM Rebels having used my previous axes for 27 years. Didn't get on with Quarks or the BD tools - the Rebels felt right as soon as I picked them up. It doesn't mean that the Quarks etc are bad, just that they didn't work for me.

Saying that you need something like Quarks to climb grade IV or V is wrong. The routes will be easier, sure, (a thinly iced Moss Gill with a Curver was an "interesting" experience!) but any technical axe from Chacals onwards is more than good enough for that grade. The worst part about old axes is getting spare parts for them.

ALC
CurlyStevo - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to a lakeland climber:
"Saying that you need something like Quarks to climb grade IV or V is wrong."

and rather niave IMO. However it doesn't stop 90% of climbers climbing at that level buying such tools does it and as such you have to ask yourself what you asperations are and what sort of tools you'll want in the long run.
StanRIDE - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to StanRIDE: thanks for you replies guys,

I have had a feel of the axes mentioned and I do feel the quarks feel the best in terms of feel and weight but do you think they are abit to extreme for me? I will mention I have used a walking axe last winter on some long winter walks in the lakes. Can you still self arrest with a quark? someone told me I can't cos of the shape of the shaft. I was thinking of an axe I can kind of grow into and be versitile enough I can use on its own for self arrest or as a pair for steep climbs.
CurlyStevo - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to StanRIDE:
well I have seen a novice self arrest with a technical ice climbing axe, it may not be as good but to say you can't do it is nonsense.
CurlyStevo - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to StanRIDE:
I have never needed to fully self arrest (I've used the pommel once or twice to stop a slip turning in to a slide). The best advice it to mindfull of where you are putting your feet and not to rely on self arrest.

Fortunately often snow is soft enough you don't slide, but there are snow / ice/slope conditions no axe is going to self arrest you. Personally I wouldn't by an axe primarily on how well in self arrests or plunges by the handle.
neuromancer - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to StanRIDE:

Bought the Flys. They actually have close to six teeth on the end of each pick, though whoever was talking about spare picks I could be interested if the price is right!

Now to convert them to leashless.

I was thinking about using some sugru for parts?
CurlyStevo - on 13 Nov 2012
neuromancer - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to CurlyStevo:

Trigrest on top, but what on bottom?
Martin W on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to neuromancer: I used the Grivel Trigger and Petzl Charlet Griprest on my Flys: http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=127421 The Griprest needs a hole drilling in the web of each axe spike to take the bolt, which can be hard work (I used a combination of a tile drill bit to start the hole, and a tungsten-carbide bit to finish it off). Since taking that photo I've cut away some of the plastic around the unused hole in the Griprest (junior hacksaw + a file to tidy things up) to make a big enough hole to clip my lanyard krabs through.
CurlyStevo - on 13 Nov 2012
In replIn reply to neuromancer:
I'm not sure I'd bother with the trigrest initially, the actually trig part can damage tendons quite easily and the petzl one breaks easily, and you may not really need it. But if you do decide to fit it I'd go with the grivel trigger reversed with the metal part sawn off.

As for the bottom, grivel don't make the slider anymore, you could buy the trigger and cut the metal trigger bit off it then its the same as the slider pretty much. I have seen a picture of flys with a grivel horn on but how easy/good that was I don't know. The old quark rest fits on their with some drilling but petzl don't make it any more IIRC

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=427901
CurlyStevo - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Martin W:
IIRC petzl don't make the old quark grip rest anymore :(
ads.ukclimbing.com
The Ex-Engineer - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to neuromancer:
> Trigrest on top, but what on bottom?

Nothing. If you are using triggers you don't need anything else.

That said, triggers are a love/hate sort of thing. I've added them to an old pair of Vertiges and find them superb. However, many others don't get on with them and prefer a handrest/horn at the base of the axe instead.

That also seems to be the way most manufacturers are going these days as triggers seem to have fallen out of fashion.

xplorer on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to StanRIDE:

BD Vipers, perfect all rounders.
Nath93 - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to CurlyStevo: Think i'm going to go with what you said Steve when i make my flies leashless. Use the trigger and chop the metal off and reverse it, almost identical to the slider. Cheers !
Martin W on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to CurlyStevo:
> (In reply to Martin W)
> IIRC petzl don't make the old quark grip rest anymore :(

Ah yes, Needlesports would seem to concur. As you say :-(

I wonder if the lower rest from the new Fly: http://www.needlesports.com/Catalogue/Winter-Climbing-Equipment/Ice-Axes/Ice-Axe-Spares/DMM/ApexFly-... could be got to fit?
CurlyStevo - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Martin W: i reckon needleports would be a good place to start. i guess it would require some drilling.
jonnie3430 - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to CurlyStevo:
> (In reply to Martin W)
> IIRC petzl don't make the old quark grip rest anymore :(

5 from here: http://www.tiso.com/shop/petzl-charlet/grip_rest/
jonnie3430 - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to Nath93:
> when i make my flies leashless.

You just need to stop using the leashes to make them leashless. I suggest you try them without griprests first and play with others axes while you are climbing then make a call on what you want to do. (Thought the quark griprest seems the tidiest solution.)
blackreaver - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to StanRIDE: Do BD Vipers have T-Rated picks? Also, what are the uses for hammers and adzes (mainly for scottish winter)?

BR
xplorer on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to blackreaver:

You can change the picks to b rated or t rated.

And if you need me to explain what you use a hammer or an adze for, then you shouldn't be winter climbing
CurlyStevo - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to jonnie3430:
"You just need to stop using the leashes to make them leashless. I suggest you try them without griprests first and play with others axes while you are climbing then make a call on what you want to do. (Thought the quark griprest seems the tidiest solution.) "

If the OP buys them before they sell out, as mentioned they are no longer being manufactured. Also the petzl grip rests require some drilling.
CurlyStevo - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to Martin W:
How secure is the petzl grip rest on to the Fly? Is it bomber?
jonnie3430 - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to CurlyStevo:
> (In reply to a lakeland climber)
>
> If you are pretty keen and are likely to get to this level it doesn't make sense either economically or in terms of having to adapt to new axes to start on a less technical set of axes.

It's more of a faff, but still safer for the beginner to have leashes on harder climbs as there is much less chance of them getting pumped as they try steep stuff and having to let go, especially on ice.

I'd recommend anybody to get a cheap pair of straight tech axes with leashes. Climb, and from the experience they get from climbing, they will have a better idea of how they want their ideal axe to feel and therefore make a better choice. If they get into winter, and are not turned away by the first few goes... Axes have good resale value too, so the straight axes can be sold at minimal loss.
Martin W on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to CurlyStevo: It's been rock solid for me so far. The bolt goes through the web of the spike, and that's tough material. The griprest can't fold upwards because it's hard up against the end of the shaft. The slot of the griprest is a good, close fit on the spike - in fact it's a bit of a fight to get it on there the first time. It eases up a little once it's been in place for a while, but it's always a firm fit. I'm sure that if you hit it with a 3lb lump hammer you'd probably do it some damage but I think that falls outwith the scope of "fair wear and tear" even for winter climbing!

I wouldn't want to fall on it, though, if that's what you meant by "bomber"?!

As I said before, given the non-availability of the Petzl griprest, if I was looking to modify an old Fly now I'd seriously consider spending 10 to see what I could do with the griprest for the new Fly. Judging from the detail pictures on the Urban Rock web site, it looks like it might be feasible to get it to fit OK.

If I was starting out and looking to buy new axes now I probably would look at the Quarks or Vipers, as well as the new Flys (which seem to be a very good price for what they offer over and above the old ones), but as it is I'm very happy with my old Flys with my modifications. I was quite tempted by the Vipers when Urban Rock were doing their 220 pair deal recently. A pal let me "test drive" his Vipers at The Ice Factor and they failed to wow me enough to make me want to spend the money, even allowing for what I'd have hoped to get back on the Flys on eBay.
neuromancer - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to Martin W:

If you're drilling the tool for a quark griprest, you can drill the tool for a grivel horn.

See; http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=525301

I was thinking about non fixed mods so I can remove it so that it doesn't prevent plunging for mountaineering as opposed to climbing.
CurlyStevo - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to jonnie3430:
"I'd recommend anybody to get a cheap pair of straight tech axes with leashes."

I think most modern climbers see leashes as an unnecessary faff which makes them more prone to getting hot aches. I see no point in new climbers having to undure leashes for their first few seasons!
CurlyStevo - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to Martin W:
"If I was starting out and looking to buy new axes now I probably would look at the Quarks or Vipers, as well as the new Flys (which seem to be a very good price for what they offer over and above the old ones), but as it is I'm very happy with my old Flys with my modifications. I was quite tempted by the Vipers when Urban Rock were doing their 220 pair deal recently. A pal let me "test drive" his Vipers at The Ice Factor and they failed to wow me enough to make me want to spend the money, even allowing for what I'd have hoped to get back on the Flys on eBay."

The new flys are more expensive than the Vipers! I think if Vipers are worth buying over modded flys depends on how hard you are climbing. I doubt you'd notice the difference under grade V (bar the odd harder grade IV ice route)

Martin W on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to CurlyStevo:

> The new flys are more expensive than the Vipers!

Does look like it from here: list price for the new Fly as far as I can tell is 140 (10 more than the old Fly) vs 175 for the Viper.

It might be easier to find discounts on the Vipers as they aren't a brand new model, but even now you can find the new Fly being offered for 130 including postage and V12 are doing a pair deal for 245. (Urban Rock aren't doing the Vipers for 220 any more, they've gone up to 259 which seems to be pretty much the norm just now for a pair deal.)
CurlyStevo - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to Martin W:
Aye as you've spotted the prices have switched about now. Still peglers are doing the Vipers for 255 so there is only a tenner in it.

I personally wouldn't be buying the new flys to save a tenner over the Vipers.
mrplastique - on 14 Nov 2012
Would the standard B rated pick on the BD Vipers be suitable for UK conditions? I was under the impression that T rated would be more suited to torquing etc on mixed climbs?
CurlyStevo - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to leeplastic:
Whilst you're probably not going to snap a laser pick mixed climbing especially if you are just starting out (I climb on B picks with my quarks), the titan picks are going to fair better and also function pretty well on ice.

have you seen this?
http://www.needlesports.com/Catalogue/Winter-Climbing-Equipment/Ice-Axes/LeashlessLeashed-Axes/Viper...
mrplastique - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to CurlyStevo:
Indeed I have thanks, which is why I was curious if the B picks would suffice as I'm also in the market for my first pair of axes.
The price for a pair at Elite Mountain Supplies is reasonable plus I get a 20% discount with my club so just wondered how the laser picks would handle mixed. Although I'm happy to pay the extra for titans if they're going to last longer

Cheers
In reply to CurlyStevo:

> I think most modern climbers see leashes as an unnecessary faff which makes them more prone to getting hot aches.

And others find they climb harder with them. Each to their own. I notice Fowler still had wrist loops on his recent Himalayan success. Rockin' it old school.
CurlyStevo - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:
I don't think there are many people that would argue that leashes don't make hanging on to the axes easier. Although its harder to shake out.
CurlyStevo - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to leeplastic:
Myself and many other people climb easy to intermediate mixed on B picks. I do it because the old Quark T picks are rubbish on ice (even when they are sharp). They are quite thick and the same width from head to tip! In scotland you get a bit of everthing and it's not practical to change picks half way up a route! I've never had a pick snap and I don't know many people that have.

Basically it's up to you, the T picks will probably last a bit longer and they are less likely to snap (which is really what the difference between T and B means) but 60 quid is a lot of money to save. Obv the needle sports axes also have the larger adze and hammer which could come in usefull in Scotland (the larger adze will likely be better for jamming in cracks as well as digging and clearing snow, but I'm sure you'd be fine without either), but will make the axes a bit heavier and they probably won't swing/handle quite as nicely.
Gazlynn - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to TobyA:

I hope I'm not rockin'it old school after 3 seasons but I am a little surprised that everyone seems to be so keen to go leashless straight off the bat.

I am an unfit pure punter who has ice tools to go with leashes or without and on certain pitches especially on steep ice my leashes have been a great help and confidence booster.

cheers

Gaz
CurlyStevo - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to Gazlynn:
Did you find steep ice on grade III ?

Have you tried leashless, its not as hard as you'd think if you're axes are curved and and you have grip rests.
jonnie3430 - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to CurlyStevo:
> (In reply to Gazlynn)

> Have you tried leashless, its not as hard as you'd think if you're axes are curved and and you have grip rests.

It is on steep ice! The best thing for beginners about griprests on steep ice is that you can wallop an axe in and loop the rope over the griprest while you place gear so you can't fall far!

Gazlynn - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to CurlyStevo:


Maybe not for you but for me it was steep ice ;-)

Yes I've tried leashless and will continue to go leashless 90% of the time.

All I am saying is when you're as unfit as me and need a rest or confidence boost don't ignore the leashes completely.

Just my opinion.

cheers

Gaz
CurlyStevo - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to jonnie3430:
The poster claims to have only climbed grade III, my reply was to him. That said when we climbed labyrinth direct the leader on the curx pitch was leashless.
jonnie3430 - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to CurlyStevo:
> (In reply to jonnie3430)
> the leader on the curx pitch was leashless.

I'd be impressed if it was a beginner, which is who my comments are for.
jonnie3430 - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to CurlyStevo:
> (In reply to jonnie3430)
> The poster claims to have only climbed grade III,

And I remember a special time I had when I met vertical ice on grade II! (Land of Make Believe on Udlaidh!)
Gazlynn - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to CurlyStevo:


Although pretty short lived I admit

These pitches are steep enough for me :-)

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=160552

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=62308

cheers Gaz
CurlyStevo - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to Gazlynn: not lead either of those although left twin is steep for a iii. still didnt find it pumpy or really all that steep. Anyway horses for courses.
Gazlynn - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to CurlyStevo:

Aye deffo, I'm first to admit I am a punter.

To the OP

Quarks with the option of purchasing clipper leashes if so desired :-)


cheers

Gaz


ClayClay - on 14 Nov 2012
Lots on ebay at the moment.
BenTiffin - on 14 Nov 2012
In reply to StanRIDE: Regarding self arrest, you can self arrest using technical axes but the length of the axe makes it more aqward. Also, the aggressive nature of the pick angle means they dig in very easily to the extent of potentially wrenching the axe out of your hand if you are travelling quickly downhill if the snow is particularly icy.

Ben

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