Evening all, on a turf route what are people’s preferences for some marginal gear, warthog or bulldogs?
Any thoughts on using them with axes as part of a belay?
For runners, I prefer the bulldogs as they are able to be placed in more locations, (thinner and shallower.) Terriers are also good.
If the turf is well frozen then I would use both in a belay although I would prefer a warthog for this application.
I don't often carry warthogs now as they are long and spiky and I generally use rock gear.
I wouldn't use any of the above in ice!
Perhaps this advice is grade dependant on easier ground perhaps III/IV warthogs could be placed more often and V upwards where the ground is more turf and rock then a bulldog or terrier is of more use.
> Evening all, on a turf route what are people’s preferences for some marginal gear, warthog or bulldogs?
> Any thoughts on using them with axes as part of a belay?
I wouldn't necessarily call them marginal gear. Saturated turf that is frozen in is reinforced ice (not the stringy stuff). With a good depth of turf, as often found on terraces in the northwest, a warthog is probably better, but marginally so, generally bulldogs and terriers are more versatile and can make bombproof bits of gear in cracks. Warthogs will go into cracks but you are less likely to get them out. I remember in desperation driving one into a crack in 1983, I have no doubt its remains are still there.
I would go with the bulldog. An excellent bulldog is a good belay but the rest of your rack will probably make a better one if anything is available.
Lots of probablys in there because all placements and circumstances are different.
As Ronbo says, warthogs are long and spiky and depending on how you rack them your femoral artery may be nearby.
> generally bulldogs and terriers are more versatile and can make bombproof bits of gear in cracks.
Agreed. I use beaks (similar to bulldogs, often used by Polish winter climbers and Andy K) and as well as frozen turf, I carry a couple on my trad rack and often use them in cracks.
Think the brand/model was Tomahawk or suchlike.
BD peckers are a bit marginal but worth a look as another alternative. Very useful, even if they are designed for aid.
some of my best winter belays have been a combination of warthog/bulldog/terriers/axes. well frozen saturated turf is not marginal, its about as bomber as it gets!
as others have said. bulldogs/terriers are more versatile as they can also be used as pegs.
i would add that bulldogs are also good in chewy snow ice, better than an ice screw. they are a pretty invaluable piece of kit for the big snow ice face routes on the ben like Orion and Indicator wall.
> i would add that bulldogs are also good in chewy snow ice, better than an ice screw.
I'm a bit sceptical about that. Really? Have you ever seen any kind of testing data that can show it?
I've smacked bulldogs into all sorts of shite over the years when terrified, but I've never put much faith in them - really when there was no other options.
> As Ronbo says, warthogs are long and spiky and depending on how you rack them your femoral artery may be nearby.
Scary, aren't they. I carry a warthog sheathed inside a Snarg for that reason. I remember the cheaper Cassin ones having less pointy points, tho I suppose if the worst came to the worst there wouldn't be much difference. I do find a use for the Snarg now and then...
> some of my best winter belays have been a combination of warthog/bulldog/terriers/axes. well frozen saturated turf is not marginal, its about as bomber as it gets!
The best winter belays are rock belays.
> i would add that bulldogs are also good in chewy snow ice, better than an ice screw. they are a pretty invaluable piece of kit for the big snow ice face routes on the ben like Orion and Indicator wall.
That is not true, and really dangerous advice.
I placed an OK ish warthog a few days ago. At the time there were 3 places that would have taken a good bulldog. I'll take a bulldog next time too!
> The best winter belays are rock belays.
when you can find them...
> That is not true, and really dangerous advice.
ice screws chew up cruddy multi-layered airated ice and have very little holding power. you can often pull them partially/fully out by hand! bulldogs dontbreak up the ice aroud them in the same way when hammered in.
and in case any of you are wondering, before they were called bulldogs, they were called 'Ice hooks', so placing them in ice is indeed partly what they were designed for! its not dangerous advice at all.
of course there is no substitute for a 19cm screw in bullet hard water ice, or a nut placed in a perfect, solid, dry crack, but thats not what we are on about here, you are comparing apples and pears! how often in scottish winter do you have perfect nut placements or solid water ice all the way up a route?
> I've smacked bulldogs into all sorts of shite over the years when terrified, but I've never put much faith in them - really when there was no other options.
iv placed many a bulldog over the years that i would hang a bus on. admittedly usually in dirty icy cracks rather than on turf blobs, but its not the bulldog ripping from the turf that i would be worried about, rather the turf ripping from the clifff! but then again i dont weigh as much as a bus...
> The best winter belays are rock belays
But you said they are good in "chewy ice" - I just meant on what do you base that assertion?
Bulldogs in turf or as pegs in cracks are a totally different proposition.
As to "ice hooks". The BD Spectre was the first modern "ice hook" in the late 90s, and it was research done by (IIRC) by BD around then which was the first really carefully controlled testing of ice gear found they were pretty hopeless in ice. Basically they never really got used for ice - but more as pegs. This was the same research that led us all to start using ice screws angled slightly teeth up rather than teeth down as was the text book advice up to then. It was also the research that showed tying off ice screws doesn't work and can actually be more dangerous than clipping a protruding screw hanger.
I think I remember seeing some sort of ice hooks that were maybe eastern European in origin from the 70s or 80s. I think the idea was you used them as direct aid, tapped into an axe placement, while placing either a drive in or screw-in screw. I've never heard of people using them in the UK at all, or as runners anywhere, although I'm sure someone somewhere has tried!
To be honest, if as your profile suggests you are in Sheffield....it's not too clever advertising you travelled to Brown Coves.
However you may have moved....
> when you can find them...
Keep digging until you do, and or climb back down to the last good runners your placed. Obviously poor belays are occasionally encountered when winter climbing, but they shouldn’t be a default, and you should avoid them at all costs.
> ice screws chew up cruddy multi-layered airated ice and have very little holding power.
Bulldogs are no better. Any protection, placed into snow or ice, on that sort of terrain should be treated with suspicion, and falling should be avoided at all costs.
Having actually taken a leader fall on to not one but two bulldogs placed in "chewy snow ice"* I can confidently assert that they are total rubbish when used like that. Both ripped, I took a factor 2 fall and was lucky not to be seriously hurt.
(*I was young and foolish - I know better than to use them in ice now!)
Thank you all.
Not planning on throwing myself off anything but good to know they can be used to make a solid belay and that deep, properly frozen turf is more secure than I’d imagined.
and you probably had no other meaningfull gear available to you? an ice screw would have ripped just as easily. 'the leader must not fall' is an adage that should be adheared to in all situations. even on steep snowed up rock routes with plentiful gear, taking anything other than a small slump onto gear is ill advised due to all the sharp pointy things involved!
iv placed a bulldog in ice on multiple occasions, and would always rather have had it there than not, even if it is mostly psychological. most screws place on the Ben snow ice are largely decorative too.
I didn't own ice screws at the time. Like I said, I was young and foolish. Nowadays I have a lot more experience, a much more extensive rack, and I would only use a bulldog in frozen turf or a crack.
You weren't claiming upthread that bulldogs were psychological when used in ice, you were claiming that they were good gear when used like that. They are not.
Saying "the leader must not fall" is pretty meaningless. Nobody intends to fall in winter, but despite this, leaders do sometimes fall. For that reason, I would never advise someone to use gear in a way that I (and the other posters upthread it seems) know full well doesn't work. If an experienced climber wants to place gear that they know is only psychological, fine, but don't tell someone asking for advice that a bulldog in ice is bomber.
Come on then...logbook says climbs on Brown cove
Your location needs updating....showing Sheffield.
> Agreed. I use beaks (similar to bulldogs, often used by Polish winter climbers and Andy K) and as well as frozen turf, I carry a couple on my trad rack and often use them in cracks.
> Think the brand/model was Tomahawk or suchlike.
Beaks and Warthogs, Spectres etc are quite different and the difference should be known as it can be a big deal.
Beaks have a taper to the entire 'beak' as they are made for rock, thus a tapered bottom edge meaning +/- the surface area in frozen turf compared to a Warthog with only a beveled tip and a toothed edge. A significant matter when placing in turf (or rock - removing Warthogs from rock is 'fun').
I'm a fan of both and will hammer them wherever works, but need to consider the differences.
We placed some bomber warthogs this weekend in the Lakes that took a bit with an axe. Used for runners and belays.
Indeed. Good point to mention. As with any any trad/winter gear, one has to assess the potential hold capability of any placement.
Generally, I consider frozen turf placements more of a psychological protection, not that I often place them though. However, am happy to say I've never tested that theory (nor ever taken a lead fall in trad or winter).
Guess my balls shrink in the cold when things get vertical... 🤣
I always carry a Bulldog and use it a lot to protect a move on ice, always try and better runner in asap though. They are also good for quickly placing to protect when you are a bit pumped placing a screw.
In short, in ice, I think a small slump on them would be fine ;)
I think of Bulldogs as axe pick placements, with the ability to 'leave an axe behind' you. Just as you describe, Christian. Same on belays - when I've been limited to axe placements the 'third' pick doesn't hurt.
Stubby ice screw or Bulldog, which would be better?
> Indeed. Good point to mention. As with any any trad/winter gear, one has to assess the potential hold capability of any placement.
> Generally, I consider frozen turf placements more of a psychological protection, not that I often place them though. However, am happy to say I've never tested that theory (nor ever taken a lead fall in trad or winter).
> Guess my balls shrink in the cold when things get vertical... 🤣
100% with you there. I consider my cowardice my best bit of protection.
> and you probably had no other meaningfull gear available to you? an ice screw would have ripped just as easily.
The problem is that you actually said:
> i would add that bulldogs are also good in chewy snow ice, better than an ice screw
My emphasis. To most people that I know, 'good' implies that it might actually do something, predictably and reliably. I'm not sure many would argue that crap gear is better than no gear, and very slightly less crap gear is better than really crap gear — but that doesn't make it good!
I'm not sure that many would argue that no gear is better than crap gear* - because obviously my first attempt made no sense whatsoever.
I personally have a preference towards bulldogs. I find them quite versatile as they go into the variety of dodgy placements that are on the menu on a typical mixed route. I often find they also go in as a peg in some placement and in some cracks they have more of a hooking action too, which can be rock solid. I in fact fell on one last weekend.
I also quite like terriers and a variety of peckers, which can work much the same way in iced up cracks where other gear won't go. I generally only like them for placements in iced up rock as turf placements would generally be very marginal indeed!
I always carry one DMM Bulldog. Really useful for turfy top-out slopes or icy dirt filled cracks. I only carry my warthog on South Wales "winter" climbs... say no more.
Thank you. I’m looking at some routes in South Wales in the grade II/III range where there might be nothing except turf when it comes to runners, belays and topping out. Will get some Bulldogs on order.
Cheers Tom, I’m asking with the north face of Pen Y Fan in mind.
I hope it is of help. Always worth getting one and seeing how you get on. I just bought another one of these the other day as it's quite cheap:
Give it a go and if you don't like it, you've basically spent the equivalent of a round of drinks, which is no big deal. Good luck out there.
Most of the main Pen Y Fan routes don't really have traditional gear but are pretty straightforward technically. Central Gully will take a couple of ice screws at each step when in condition but any "rock" is generally terrible. A couple of pieces of turf gear (bulldog/warthog) can be nice to have between axe belays. You want it to have been well below freezing up there for a good few days so everything is solidly frozen to a good depth. A dump of snow can also insulate the mud/turf so it takes longer to freeze. Have fun!
This Winter Conditions page gives a summary of what is being climbed at the moment, what is 'in' nick and what the prospects are...
15-year-old French climber Oriane Bertone has climbed Super Tanker (Font 8B+) at Cuvier Rempart in Fontainebleau, France.