/ first axe advice - need to stop agonising and but something!

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Oo on 28 Dec 2012
right, the misses and I are starting to get into outdoor. being young fit recent converts to climbing. money is a bit tight too. looking at axes and want to just get something ordered tonight for delivery before the new year's trip.

I need a do everything axe (mainly due to money) to cope with starting out winer mountaineering and then getting into more serious ice. The misses seems terribly concerned about it being long enough to walk with, but in my mind I can walk just fine, and would happily sacrifice it being shorter to actually make it easier to climb with.

Looking for something fairly straight shafted to allow for plunging into snow too.

So, my thought is to go for the new DMM Flys, which are on sale at £100 each (top end of my budget). Buy us each an adze for now, and then when the going gets tougher add on a hammer each.

Thoughts?
Oo on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to Oo:

not having a great day... so i the first line replace outdoor with winter mountaineering.

Forgot to mention my other option is old style DMM Cirques for £50 each. but the picks cant be changed, and seems a bit limited for more technical stuff.
peas65 - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to Oo:

As you have little experience why not just buy a cirque each for now, you may find that you hate the faff of winter climbing and dont want to do any more.

My partner has the old style flys fitted with grip rests for climbing, but because of this it makes them difficult to use as a walking axe as it doesnt plunge into snow very well. Of course you can always be well intentioned and take them off but its unlikely you would keep doing it.

Cirques are great axes at a good price and you can always sell them in a couple of years if you find you dont use them much. But if you do enjoy winter stuff you will probably find that you will keep using them for easy stuff.
hokkyokusei - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to Oo:

When I was in your position I bought cirque. Bought it because it was what my gf had. Great for winter walking and alpine use. It's a walking axe but it's ok for making buried axe belays and the curve helps on more technical ground. Have also used it in nepal, and north america. When we started doing scottish winter together I bought a pair of flys and we used a cirque and a fly each. Worked ok for grade II/III. Last winter when we were going to do more technical stuff we bough another pair of flys. Sadly we never got out dues to injury ...

Anyway, I'm sure you'll get lots of contradictory opinion, and possibly I'll get people telling me I wasted my money etc, but I'm just telling you what worked well enough for me to be happy.

Pritchard - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to Oo:

To be honest you might not even like it, particularly the harder grades. My advice would be bite the bullet and get a general mountain axe, then if you move on and up get a pair of technical axes later. A middle of the road axe will do everything, but nothing well. If your really set on a cross the DMM Raptor might fit your bill, not sure but it might take a trigger conversion? The Grivel Air Tech Evolution is also a great general mountain axe.
iksander on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to Oo: Get the new Flys for £230 (Urban Rock) a pair or Reactors for £250 (V12) a pair and get a pair of cheapo walking poles. Don't worry about plunging. Buying new, you get what you pay for. Next time try and buy a secondhand pair out of season... Just my 2p worth. Expect the "Old Flys are great" crowd soon - ignore them.
jas wood - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to Oo: If you are going to take up winter climbning then the fly's are fine and the pair i had done me well up to grade 5. However i do agree with the post above concerning buying better leashless axes as they will be more future proof.

All in all the fly's will do the job you need but i'd say after a season of winter climbing you will want to go leashless (flys can be converted cheaply)
peas65 - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to iksander:

Surely this is not great advice to people just starting out winter mountaineering? The judgements of when to use axes and when to use walking poles might not be made wisely if your new to winter.

If you have never even walked in winter how is buying a pair of reactors useful?
The New NickB - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to Oo:

Time is against you, but you could buy second hand, perhaps from someone who has taken similar advice to some given on this thread and bought something massively over spec'ed for someone just starting in the sport.

I would buy cheap ish general mountaineering axes, not too long it isn't a walking stick. These will be fine for winter walking and climbing in the lower, even mid grades. In a couple of years you will be more experienced, know if you want to climb harder and can then decide if you want to spend serious money on some more technical tools.
Hannes on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to Oo: Best option, get second hand technical axes (quarks, vipers, matrix techs) and use them for everything.

If you on the other hand want to do more walking than climbing a single cirque or similar axe will be fine, they'll take you up II maybe the odd III. However seeing that you've led some VS in your logbook I can't quite understand this concept of having to do winter walking plodding up snow gullies. Get yourself on some proper climbing (though not very had obviously) but to do that you need a pair of axes. While it certainly is possible to climb slightly more technical stuff with cirques it sure isn't a good idea. I can barely believe I say but if money is really tight and you can't find used axes the flys are probably your best long term option. I'm sure I've seen the old flys go cheaper than that though the new ones look a lot nicer.

As for short axes being problematic walking with, no they aren't. The time when you most need the axe is when you are walking along a steep slope and then the angle of the slope will mean that the axe doesn't need to be that long (axe being on uphill side) and a long axe might even be more of a faff to walk with. Besides, most technical axes are 50cm and few women require longer walking axes than 55cm unless they are tall.
lardbrain - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to Hannes:
My initial advice would be to go for the new Quarks as i think their adaptability will future proof them for quite a long time for the OP & even (stripped down) give them a light axe for alpine PDish stuff in the future. Try the outdoor shop or the go outdoors price compare thingy...
haven't used them in anger but i have favourable reports from people who have (i use mod'd Superflys or X-monsters dep on mood!) & i know they aren't made in the UK, which DMM are, but is the rest of your kit?!
Alternatively, are you going on a course (they should be able to lend you axes) or are you in a club (somebody will have a spare/2)?
Just my 2p.
Either way, if you're just starting out, not buying anything yet & spending the money on a day out with a good Scottish guide might be an alternative...

lardbrain (about to drive home sadly as nothing will be in nick...)
AndyE9 on 28 Dec 2012
have a look at the vipers , that is what we bought , there are some good deals to be had on these , and you won't out grow them any time soon…

CurlyStevo - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to Oo: dont worry too much about plunging unless you mostly want to be walking. If your asperations are to climb you can safely ignore the recommendations for cirques and alike. My take on it is why make the easy climbing easier (<= II) when you can make the harder climbing easier! The new flys look nice enough but comeon for that money you can very nearly buy vipers. Also if i was you id aim for leashless from the off its much less hassle! So if you do buy second hand flys factor in getting them converted to leashless.
CurlyStevo - on 28 Dec 2012
In reply to Hannes:
> (In reply to Oo) Best option, get second hand technical axes (quarks, vipers, matrix techs) and use them for everything.
>
> If you on the other hand want to do more walking than climbing a single cirque or similar axe will be fine, they'll take you up II maybe the odd III. However seeing that you've led some VS in your logbook I can't quite understand this concept of having to do winter walking plodding up snow gullies. Get yourself on some proper climbing (though not very had obviously) but to do that you need a pair of axes. While it certainly is possible to climb slightly more technical stuff with cirques it sure isn't a good idea. I can barely believe I say but if money is really tight and you can't find used axes the flys are probably your best long term option. I'm sure I've seen the old flys go cheaper than that though the new ones look a lot nicer.
>
> As for short axes being problematic walking with, no they aren't. The time when you most need the axe is when you are walking along a steep slope and then the angle of the slope will mean that the axe doesn't need to be that long (axe being on uphill side) and a long axe might even be more of a faff to walk with. Besides, most technical axes are 50cm and few women require longer walking axes than 55cm unless they are tall.

im 6ft and i much prefer my walking / mountaineering axe longer than my tech axes. mines are 63 cm and id prefer a couple of cm more if anything! much better for dodgey desents (narrow ridges etc) and typically moderately steep slopes and still fine on fairly easy but technical ground.
CurlyStevo - on 29 Dec 2012
In reply to Oo:
> right, the misses and I are starting to get into outdoor. being young fit recent converts to climbing. money is a bit tight too. looking at axes and want to just get something ordered tonight for delivery before the new year's trip.
>
> I need a do everything axe (mainly due to money) to cope with starting out winer mountaineering and then getting into more serious ice. The misses seems terribly concerned about it being long enough to walk with, but in my mind I can walk just fine, and would happily sacrifice it being shorter to actually make it easier to climb with.
>
> Looking for something fairly straight shafted to allow for plunging into snow too.
>
> So, my thought is to go for the new DMM Flys, which are on sale at £100 each (top end of my budget). Buy us each an adze for now, and then when the going gets tougher add on a hammer each.
>
> Thoughts?

if your budget really is 200 quid for the pair of you get 2 pairs second hand. old style flys will be fine for a couple of seasons!
CurlyStevo - on 29 Dec 2012
In reply to Oo:
> right, the misses and I are starting to get into outdoor. being young fit recent converts to climbing. money is a bit tight too. looking at axes and want to just get something ordered tonight for delivery before the new year's trip.
>
> I need a do everything axe (mainly due to money) to cope with starting out winer mountaineering and then getting into more serious ice. The misses seems terribly concerned about it being long enough to walk with, but in my mind I can walk just fine, and would happily sacrifice it being shorter to actually make it easier to climb with.
>
> Looking for something fairly straight shafted to allow for plunging into snow too.
>
> So, my thought is to go for the new DMM Flys, which are on sale at £100 each (top end of my budget). Buy us each an adze for now, and then when the going gets tougher add on a hammer each.
>
> Thoughts?

these may still be available http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=524839
Oo on 29 Dec 2012
Thanks for all the tips. Went for a couple of Cirques to get us going. Simply because they were the cheapest option available, want to get out and rack up some experience, actually use an axe, get an idea of what I'm going to need and which features matter. Then as long as I don't put the misses off completely can justify throwing a bit more money at the gear.

Any recommendations for stuff to do around Rhyd Ddu? I've convinced a knowledgeable friend to come and show us the ropes...
Jamie B - on 29 Dec 2012
In reply to Oo:

Good call. There is much to be said for getting steady as a winter walker before taking on two-axe climbs. This is evidenced by a number of recent incidents where inexperienced climbers have taken bad slides on approach or descent terrain.

Enjoy the journey. You may well move onto technical climbing and end up getting more technical axes for this, but if you're anything like me winter-walking/mountaineering will also remain part of the diet for many years, and your walking axes will probably last for the duration. Unlike climbing axes they don't really get worn away or outdated.
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Mark / Alps - on 29 Dec 2012
In reply to Oo:

Once you've found some snow / ice have fun going up and down different slopes both with and without crampons as appropriate.Try short sections of steeper terrain with easy access at top and bottom and no steep / exposed run outs. Play with one axe, then two on different terrain. Develop your different ice axe skills including self arrest. Around Cwm Glas and Cwm Cneifion there are lots of short steeper sections you can practice on, ice bouldering is fun, and even set up top ropes, assuming there is any snow / ice there. Hopefully your friend will show and teach you the whole range of new skills required so you can practise and hone the skills. With cash short join a club as you may be able to get a variety of people to go with, learn from and try out their different choices of axes. Assuming they have the knowledge they can show you, take you or recommend routes for you to try. There are some routes which can be climbed using a normal rock climbing rack for protection
Remember you also need good navigation skills, appropriate clothing and the knowledge, equipment and skills to protect winter climbing.Enjoy!

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