/ Removing axes

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Jezz0r 12 Jan 2020

I haven't done very much climbing on water ice outdoors, certainly nothing steep. Last weekend conditions on the Ben were crap and we went to the Ice Factor instead, and I noticed I was having real problems removing the axes. Is there a specific technique I need to use? Wobbling up and down seemed to work best but it was still huge effort sometimes on deep placements, and when it's overhanging and you're pumped that's not great...

I wondered if it's maybe exacerbated by the weird ice at the ice factor? Or maybe my tools contribute. I have simond anacondas and the second tooth is fairly aggressive, I have considered filing them down a bit for next time, but wanted some advice first.

Thanks!

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AlH 12 Jan 2020
In reply to Jezz0r:

There are various things you can do to make this easier and these include:

Only swing the axe in as far as you need to and consider hooking existing holes in the ice

Think about reversing the swing in to remove it. Just pulling the handle out is actually pushing the pick forwards down into the ice which will only move the tool if you break the ice. Often a pump in and out of the handle followed by a push up and out works.

You can make the 'pumping' more effective by sharpening the top of your tool.

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subtle 12 Jan 2020
In reply to AlH:

> Only swing the axe in as far as you need to and consider hooking existing holes in the ice

Hooking existing holes on indoor ice - fancy that - hopefully Ice Factor better than Breahead 

> Think about reversing the swing in to remove it. Just pulling the handle out is actually pushing the pick forwards down into the ice which will only move the tool if you break the ice. Often a pump in and out of the handle followed by a push up and out works.

> You can make the 'pumping' more effective by sharpening the top of your tool

Sharp tool - great advice, as is only sinking it in as much as is needed, which comes with practice - which is where indoor freezers come in to their own - amazing how little you need to stick the pick in!

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Pina 13 Jan 2020
In reply to Jezz0r:

You can remove some of the teeth at the front of your picks which helps in pure water ice. Having a well tapered front helps with penetration and thus means you don't have to hammer them in as hard and makes removal easier. Tapering the picks makes them less resistant to wear on mixed routes though and my point below stands.

It's an interesting again of how much you're likely to be doing though, having a dedicated set of ice picks is definitely my recommendation if you'll be doing lots of WI as it takes one winter route to blunt them and if you sharpen each time you'll be buying new picks quite often...

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NottsRich 11:25 Wed

> You can remove some of the teeth at the front of your picks which helps in pure water ice. Having a well tapered front helps with penetration and thus means you don't have to hammer them in as hard and makes removal easier. Tapering the picks makes them less resistant to wear on mixed routes though and my point below stands.

You can also sharpen the top edge of the pick. Not sharp to cut paper, but sharp to cut through ice a little bit. Moving the handle forwards and backwards makes that top edge cut the ice and enlarge the hole so removing is easier.

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Duncan Beard 22:13 Wed
In reply to Jezz0r:

I use some old straight Vertige axes with the curved alpine pick rather than the droop pick. These stuck like crazy at first until I filed all the backward pointing teeth into triangles & sharpened the top. They work really well now on Scottish snow/ice & also at Kinlochleven. Last winter I went to the Ice Factor for the third time, the second time with these axes, and I felt like I had made real progress. I was inspired by a video I saw by an American ice climber on tool sharpening.

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Ann S 12:50 Thu
In reply to AlH:

Hooking existing pick placements is exactly how I had an easy ride up Point5 -following a guide of course.  It had bucket steps for feet and by gently placing my picks into holes made by the hard work of others, it became a bit of a breeze.

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