/ Equipment for grade 1,2 and 3 winter climbs

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timcook207 - on 31 Dec 2012
I have done a bit of winter walking and have the usual winter kit including one dmm cirque axe and a pair of grivel air tech crampons. I also have some rock climbing equipment.
My question is simply will this equipment suffice for winter climbing up to grade 3 or do I really need another ice axe, and if this is the case will another DMM cirque do or will I need a more technical set of axes.
Thanks guys
Tim Cook
Dave Kerr - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to timcook207:

You'll need another axe for grade III and be happier with a second axe on most grade IIs. I'd buy a more technical axe as then you are half way to a pair of axes for harder routes. The combo of cirque and tech axe will be ok for II/III.

Your crampons will be fine but you don't say what boots you have. Flexy boots can be really disconcerting on ice.

Jon_dL - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to timcook207: DMM Deadman! They're heavy but on a grade II or III, I think really worthwhile! Since many routes at this grade involve deepish snow and gullys, you'll use it a lot.
Get a 2nd hand one if poss.

Many don't care much for them, but on a snowy gully, they give a lot of confidence and are quick to place. Back it up with other gear or ice axe anchor.
waiting for snow - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to timcook207:

I think the location may play its part in what protection you'll actually need. For most North Cairngorm or Lake district climbs then some nuts and plenty of slings should be more than enough protection for grades I and II. Other areas and some grade IIIs however start to need more specialised equipment (ice screws, deadman, warthogs, pegs etc). Although everything is conditions and experience dependant.

As stated already, it's possible to climb those grades with only one axe, but you'd feel the confidence from a second tool. I climbed my first season with a cirque and the old style DMM fly, which worked quite well together. That being said most of my climbing mates have bought second hand axes for less than the price of 1 new axe; maybe that's an option?

If possible I'd try to follow a more experienced friend and second routes while you assess what you want to do and therefore what gear you'll need. "Buy once and buy right", and all that stuff?
nniff - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to timcook207:

You would have a better time with two axes and Gr III would be tricky with only one.

You don't need a matching pair, so a smart move would be to buy a hammer of some description - second hand would be sensible.

I'd avoid buying a cheap new axe, as a second hand older one is more than likely to be superior as long as it as no more than, say, 15 years old. You're more than likely to pick up a p[air of Flies, Axars or similar on here for not a lot.
The Ex-Engineer - on 31 Dec 2012
In reply to timcook207: Pretty decent answers already.

For grade I winter routes of whatever variety you should never need anything more than what you already own. For the vast majority, a rope and a couple of slings will suffice. Nuts generally won't be need, but you lose little carrying some. An old sling or some tape or 5/6mm cord as abseil tat is about the only other thing you might want.

For mountaineering style, grade II routes (such as the Aonach Eagach or Forcan Ridge) pretty much exactly the same applies. One axe will suffice but some mountaineers still want to carry a second 'for peace of mind' or added flexibility. Just remember that deciding to carry one is no justification for deploying it immediately when you rope-up. On moderately-angled snow/ice covered rock, trying to use a second axe is far more often a liability than a help. (In three winter ascents of Tower Ridge, I have yet to use a second axe but I must have witnessed a dozen climbers making a hash of trying to climb sections of it with two.)

However, when it comes to the shorter climbs (mainly gullies) at popular venues such as Aonach Mor, The Northern Corries or Stob Coire nan Lochan things are rather different. A second axe is pretty much essential on every route from grade II upwards. You will also start to need a larger rack. A set of nuts and a couple of hexes will serve for most grade II routes and it is only once you reach grade III that any of warthogs/bulldogs, pitons or ice screws become appropriate depending on the route and conditions.
nniff - on 02 Jan 2013
In reply to timcook207: would set you up nicely. You might consider the other axe for sale by the same person if you wanted two technical axes
rossn - on 03 Jan 2013
In reply to timcook207: I would agree with ex-engineer in everything he has said. I noticed the other day that you can get the old style DMM Fly tools for £80 each as they have just been superceded. These would be a perfect choice for intended use. RN
andybrown114 - on 08 Jan 2013
In reply to rossn:
Nowt wrong with DMM Flys - I led my first grade V steep ice route with a pair of them a few years ago and Grivel G12s on my feet. You can get a leashless attachment for them now too so getting a second hand pair sharpened and made leashless is much cheaper than a new pair of Quarks and will give you pretty much exactly the same capability IMO!

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