/ Brittle Ice Technique
Any tips for avoiding huge dinner plates? (comical answers accepted, I have cake)
So far the best I've managed is chipping small hooks rather than planting a firm swing, but this is incredibly time consuming and inefficient!
Hold it in place with tiny little droplets of fear.
Very, very, very sharp points.
Placements as far apart as possible so you don't take out the other tool you're hanging off when it plates.
Feet in your old tool placements (monos help here).
And if it's really that brittle, I'd actually rather knock the surface off to get a solid placement underneath, than have it plate later when I'm pulling on it...
> I'd actually rather knock the surface off to get a solid placement underneath, than have it plate later when I'm pulling on it...
That was our other remedy, but gave up after the falling chunks took out my feet. I think its time to go mono!
Well, yes, because anything blunt is just going to bust it out of the way, taking the rest with it. To quote a carpenter of my acquaintance 'Take a finer shaving with a sharper tool'.
The other thing is pick your spot carefully (and aim accurately).
Any sort of depression in the ice (in between icicles, over the top of little bulges) or softer spot (white patches, bubbles) is what you want.
> The other thing is pick your spot carefully (and aim accurately).
Yvon Chouinard's 'Climbing Ice', Chapter 3, the section on Characteristics of Ice is useful.
Surely the blunting only seems worse because they were sharper before?
If, to try to explain my thinking, you had a blade sharpened to '7' and then found it became '5' after you'd whacked a few rocks, and one sharpened to '10' that also became blunted to '5', it'd still be better to have them start at '10' would it not? That way you get the benefit of the extra sharpness for a little longer, even though maths reasons that it is 50% blunter rather than 30%.
Only for ice routes, of course - probably no point taking the extra trouble if you know they're going to spend their time buried in turf.
> Surely the blunting only seems worse because they were sharper before?
> If, to try to explain my thinking, you had a blade sharpened to '7' and then found it became '5' after you'd whacked a few rocks, and one sharpened to '10' that also became blunted to '5', it'd still be better to have them start at '10' would it not? That way you get the benefit of the extra sharpness for a little longer, even though maths reasons that it is 50% blunter rather than 30%.
> Only for ice routes, of course - probably no point taking the extra trouble if you know they're going to spend their time buried in turf.
Probably pointlessly academic but a sharper edge will dull or become damaged quicker than an edge which has been sharpened to a greater angle. If you imagine a knife with a 20degree bevel the layer of metal at the edge will be more fragile than if it was sharpened to 30 degrees.
Brittle ice is brittle ice.
Either use existing placements and hook.
Choose your spot carefully to place your tool (small concavities) and use tools with very sharp picks gently but powerful swing with wrist flick to finish. First blow may knock of any surface brittle ice (called a dinner plate)then ensure next placement is in the exact same place.
Bottom line climbing brittle ice - unless someone has climbed it before you - generally you'll have to do the clearing. This will involve creating debris. The knack is climbing it efficiently otherwise you'll waste a great deal of energy smashing your way up the pitch.
If it's vertical then hooking is your main(only?)option.
Another good reason why you never, ever follow someone up an ice climb. Great way to ensure you require facial reconstruction, at best, at worse I've seen large enough sections come up off that if hit you in the face would kill you...
I can only agree about dinner plating. Whilst doing Professor's Falls some years ago (Banff, Canada) I placed a screw half way up the second pitch on the advice of my second, and went to move up by placing both axes more or less in the same plane. A huge dinner plate formed around both, and I fell back on to the screw complete with about 200 lbs of ice! If I hadn't placed the screw I would have decked it, so thanks Jim! Take care out there on the brittle stuff!
I've used tubular tools before from Austrialpin, an older version of this I think: http://www.austrialpin.at/eisklettern/ice-tools/waterIce.aspx Read what they say about their picks here: http://www.austrialpin.at/eisklettern/picks/hohlhaue-schranz.aspx
I thought they were great on water ice (a ice tower at the Silvretta Hut(I think?)) really good first time placements when normal picks weren't so solid. To get them out you twist and they core the ice and come out easily, leaving a good starter hole for a screw...
I think they might be quite new. I keep a keen eye on different types of ice gear and don't think I've seen any tubular picks since the very early 90s.
The Devil's Appendix chapter by John Barry in Cold Climbs has a very funny description of the problems of using tubular picks. In fact all Barry's chapters are very funny.
found this on the grivel page - http://www.grivel.com/products/ice/accessories/27-btf_tubular
Austria Alpin still sells tubular picks for their Vampire and what ever tools.
Does anyone remember those tools that were made by Stubai (did Austria Alpin start as Stubai?) from the early 90s, they had yellow, plastic covered shafts and these bizarre tubular adzes? I remember them being a bit shorter than the 50 cm standard. A sort of Euro Terror!
I had the standard-pick-and-adze version of one of those, yep it was a 45cm shaft like Chacals/Barracudas and all those 80s Clog tools.
Only paid a fiver for it, actually it was an ex-magazine review sample passed on by the reviewer who'd probably better remain nameless! Paired it up with a secondhand Chacal hammer...they got me up all sorts of things in the Lakes & Scotland. Still up in the loft in a box somewhere...
I used an old (?, OK, so worn,) pair of them about three or four years ago. I'd give them a go on mixed, which is where they seem poor. Some placements you wouldn't get, but I would think you'd get torques etc.. that wouldn't be normally possible.
I forgot to add to the above post that I was top roping (!) on an 8.1mm half, one of my axes swung close to the rope at one point and I nervously noticed that the width of the pick was wider than the rope and the potential for an unexpected solo was high if I wasn't a bit more careful.
As this thread seems to be veering slightly off course here's an 80s trivia question...
In the original edition of Cold Climbs there's *one* photo where the climber is using tools with modern-style modular reverse-curve picks.
use good modern tools with agressive grips:pick angles to hook and switch up on rather than so much hacking.
get a set of picks just for brittle ice, shaped into a 'cats claw' tip.
get stronger, better balanced and better range-of-motion to optimize on each placement.
So - don't forget you can always down climb...
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