I've never had an axe fail like this before so I'm thinking the pick can't have been a genuine. I get the impression now that someone has replaced a worn pick by cutting one out of a piece of tin or something. Is this what has likely happened or is there a problem with Mountain Technology picks? I'd be interested to hear from anyone who can shed some light on this.
In fairness I've bought loads of climbing equipment off ebay over the years and this is the first time I've ever had a problem with anything.
I had a set of vertige axes for a few years a while back. Brilliant axes and totally bomproof.
If someone has knowingly sold you this axe as a fake they are clearly an egit. That kind of catastrophic failure could obviously have dire consequences in the wrong situation. Ive never seen any axes do this. Itd be interesting to have the material tested somehow.....
The colour of that pick doesn't look right to me. Does the pick have any markings on it like the manufacturers name or a CE/UIAA marking? It's either a fake or it was never tempered properly. The picks are almost impossible to get hold of btw.
> I bought a Mountain Technology Vertige Glencoe axe from ebay a while ago. Yesterday when I was using it for only the second time I whacked it into a patch of hard ice and this happened:
> I've never had an axe fail like this before so I'm thinking the pick can't have been a genuine. I get the impression now that someone has replaced a worn pick by cutting one out of a piece of tin or something. Is this what has likely happened or is there a problem with Mountain Technology picks? I'd be interested to hear from anyone who can shed some light on this.
> In fairness I've bought loads of climbing equipment off ebay over the years and this is the first time I've ever had a problem with anything.
Hard to tell from that angle, but are you sure that it is a Vertige?
I have both the older and newer Vertiges, and they would never do that. The picks were all tempered stainless, so what you have there IMHO is a copy, made because the owner couldn't get spares. The colour looks like mild steel to me too.
I have been successful in obtaining some through here and through EBay, and indeed have a spare, (though I'm saving it for obvious reasons), so I'm sure you can. The axes are excellent, you just need to do a better job of getting replacement picks....
I've bent many a BD fusion pick and a few grivel ones and some have been fairly new picks. It's always going to happen when your swinging something metal anywhere near rock. Sure you didn't hit something under the ice?
I have several MT axes (admittedly not Vertiges) and the colour of the head/pick is much brighter than in your photo. I'm no metallurgist but that seems to support the view that your pick is an inferior replacement.
I'm not the metallurgist of the family but that looks wrong squared. I had an MT axe which had been sharpened on a grinding wheel, it hit rock and the end broke off clean with no deformity suggesting that heat generated in sharpening makes it brittle and therefore less likely to deform. I don't think this is due to heat altered tempering. Looks like poor quality metal and so not original pick.
Diluted, Son of emminent metallurgist. Not much knowledge passed down though!
Thanks to everybody for the replies. The axe is a Vertige Alpinist. I'm convinced the pick is an inferior copy. There are no embossed markings on the pick and the surface is covered in thin parallel lines which in hindsight doesn't seem right. I was whacking it into a thin patch of ice so it probably hit something hard underneath but I still don't think it should have bent like it did.
I should have said in my original post that I've also got two much older Mountain Technology axes that have seen a lot of action and never let me down.
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster:
Looks like a slightly worrying learing experience!
I made my own pick for a MT Vertige, it didn't look too bad until I used it and discovered the difference between the kind of steel used for making iceaxe heads and the kind used for some old bracket... suffice to say I won't be selling it to anyone!
In reply to Murko Fuzz:
Mountain technology were based in Onich and was run by Hugh McNicholl, Hugh moved to Australia a while ago and passed away last August 2012,
Hugh's axes were well made so to see one fail like the one in the picture is strange to say the least. Head replaced? possibly, hit a rock? possibly
Difficult one anyway, contact the seller and see what he says.
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster: It looks like an inferior copy. I was looking at replacing the picks on my Vertige axe's and came across an article describing the correct hardness and strength required in picks. As i have previously made bushcraft knives in the past i thaught i woult try it.
It basicaly said that 17/4 ph stainless is the correct material to make new picks from.
> (In reply to Gerry_Doncaster)
> Respectfully , you would be better off saving money on things like buying second user clothing as its just not so critical if its not 100% genuine.
Easy to say, but in practice, I know that I simply haven't got the money to justify buying much if anything new... Second hand is a godsend for those on a tight budget, you do however have to accept a certain risk that unless you can give it a thorough visual inspection and hold it in your hand before parting with cash, you may end up with something you'll have to bin... Of course that's actually relatively rare.
Ropes are particularly sketchy, as there's more to miss when inspecting them and as such I'd rather not buy them from someone I didn't trust, especially not sight-unseen.
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster: I cant help thinking about this. I would assume pick is a fake, no pick I have ever used/abused or seen used and abused has ever looked like this, and I have seen some shit axes.
First point grinding the pick sharp is NOT necessarily a bad thing to do, if you are careful not to introduce too much heat into the metal , and to lose the temper to this level would result in A loss of so much material it would be f*cking useless after and B discolour it so much warning bells would be ringing LOUD and clear.
So Fake pick seems likely, OK where does that leave the situation, Did the seller know what he/she was selling? if so, they are happy to endanger someones life,,,,,,,why not just hit the buyer on the head with it, Trotsky style?
Advice,,,get a Hammer, not too big, but one you can weild swiftly, find seller of Axe and break all their knuckles with said hammer, and then extract money from their debit card/wallet, explaining that it could have been worse, you could have stuck it in their eye.....
CALM Down, Deep breath,,,,,,,,,
In reply to Sebastian Fontleroy:
You'd think that hardwear with no moving parts like an axe would be ok though! You'd want some photos of the pick in particular to check how battered it is but a fake pick is not something you'd expect...
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster: So if you heat it up and cool it slow its soft and malleable. If you heat it put and cool it fast its hard and brittle. I think. This is called tempering. If you sharpen it and it gets hot you can reverse this process. The marks on the side might be from crap machine work.
What i think you might have is a copy which has not been heat treated or the material is not good enough. So you have bent it. If you send the pick off(BMC) they will be able to tell if it is a fake.
If you get an old file and heat it up with a blow torch then drop it in a bucket of water, let it cool. You will be able to break it on the side of a table. Ive seen it done.
Again, thanks for all the replies. I'm convinced the pick is fake. This has been a learning experience for me. It just never occurred to me before this that there were axes with fake picks out there. Luckily I had one good axe with me at the time (also a Vertige but an older one) so I was able to finish the route safely.
I'll be a lot more careful about buying used gear now and will examine any pick closely before using an axe. If I had a nice 50 grand a year job, I'd buy all my gear brand new, no problem, but I'm self employed and times are hard. If it wasn't for the likes of ebay I wouldn't be able to afford to pursue this wonderful but expensive hobby.
In reply to Gerry_Doncaster: Are you absolutely sure the axe is a genuine Vertige? Even my very old Vertiges have neatly recessed Allen bolts to hold the pick in place rather than great clunking bolts with heads and nuts visible on either side of the head as in your photo. Looks like it would give a very uncomfortable carry so I don't see why Mountain Technology would have made a good design worse.
If you are interested I would love to take a closer look at that pick, we'd do a few micro-hardness indents and some metalography, maybe some back scatter SEM and x-ray diffraction if anything interesting came out of the light micrscopy? I'm guessing you are in Donny I would do the testing at Sheffield uni so you could even watch if you like, I wont be back from china til march tho
I still have two Vertige axes and once had the traditional curved pick bend after being twisted as it was stuck in ice. This was an original spec pick as I had taken the recurve off to put on a home made hammer as I couldn't afford two tools at the time. It was not as severe as in the pic of the OP and after being straightened it is still ok 20 years odd later.
> I have vertige alpinist axes and despite years of abuse they have never done that.
I work in Procurement, including safety sensitive materials, and we have to watch out for fake products, and of course they target the premium brands as people will pay more for them, so more profit. (No point in faking an inferior product, if you want to make money. )
We find that the manufacturers are very keen to find out what the fakers are up to, so I would let them know, even if it was bought on eBay.
In reply to Jim C: The manufacturers, Mountain Technology, shut down about 10 years ago. The 'demand' for replacement picks must run to about half a dozen a year and declining year on year as more people retire their axes due to the axes age/fashion trends. I really doubt if theres a counterfeit pick operation going on.
My question to the OP would be 'Why on earth would you buy an axe on Ebay that you know must be at least 10 years old, not know its previous history and still expect it to perform?
I have an old vertige pick you can have, to keep you going. It's old, rusty and has been sharpened a lot. It's only 165mm along the bottom egde. You'll be banging your knuckles I'm afraid. Couldn't post it until next week though.
> (In reply to L.A.)
> because that company made fantastic axes(for time) with a reknowned build quality? And he is cutting his cloth to suit his budget?
Precisely. I already had a Vertige climbing axe and walking axe, both nearly 20 years old that still perform very well to this day so I thought a newer Vertige would be at least as reliable. Also, yes I can't afford to splash out £300 quid on a brand new pair of Quarks or such like so I look for stuff on ebay to suit my limited budget.