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#91039 - 02/22/08 02:38 PM Black Diamond Whippet vs. Ice Axe?
goatpacker Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 86
Loc: Eastern Washington
Anyone use one of these for self-arrest vs. an ice axe? Considering using one on Mt. Adams and like the idea of using 2 trekking poles—one of them being the Whippet. Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks in advance.
Steve


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#91040 - 02/22/08 03:20 PM Re: Black Diamond Whippet vs. Ice Axe? [Re: goatpacker]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
No extensive personal experience although a friend of mine has one and I have checked it out. I've never been to Mt. Adams. I don't know what conditions you're facing. I don't even claim to be an expert mountaineer.

But I'll give you my opinion anyway <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

If I'm in a situation where I may need an axe, I'm going to bring an axe. Nor do I bring my traction device when I may need full crampons. I'll gladly pay a weight/bulk penalty when my safety is involved.

Also....Correct me if I'm wrong but the Whippet's pick faces forward as you walk whereas a properly held axe's pick faces rearward. This seems awkward to me. Not only is the Whippet a different tool but it also requires a different technique. Techniques must be practiced to be effective, especially when your safety is involved.

I would not feel confident laying my body weight across a hiking pole in an arrest, versus a real ice axe. And that's assuming I could quickly even get my body weight over the Whippet's pole.

You're probably looking at this thing because you may need protection in a fall. So which would you rather have if you actually fell? A Whippet or an ice axe? Maybe you don't plan to be on any high angle slopes. But as the saying goes, "hope for the best but plan for the worst".

I guess there is one argument in favor of the Whippet....It's better than plain hiking poles or nothing at all.

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#91041 - 02/23/08 07:41 AM Re: Black Diamond Whippet vs. Ice Axe? [Re: Trailrunner]
goatpacker Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 86
Loc: Eastern Washington
Thanks Trailrunner. Your logic is difficult to argue with.

Now if I could just find a trusty L/W axe...

Steve

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#91042 - 02/23/08 09:51 AM Re: Black Diamond Whippet vs. Ice Axe? [Re: goatpacker]
midnightsun03 Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/03
Posts: 2936
Loc: Alaska
Goatpacker... l/w axes have been the topic of conversation here several times... do a search going back over several years and you'll find several options.

One thing to remember... ice axes rely to a certain extent on head weight, so a super light head may dink off hard snow just when you want it to dig in. Look for an axe that saves its weight in the shaft rather than the head, and don't go with the lightest option you find. I think the lightest I've seen is something like 10oz, which just isn't enough bang for the buck. My BD Raven Pro is 17oz. I think they may have a new version that weighs in at 15 oz... I don't think I'd go much lighter than that unless your snow fields are very low angle and small and you're not likely to pick up much speed. Also, it is important to know when you're going to be doing your hike... old "rotten" snow can become so granular in the summer that self-arresting with any tool becomes very very difficult. Alaska's largest mountaineering disaster ever was the result of 14 people trying to self-arrest while sliding down a couloir of rotten snow in July. Two people died, 10 ended up in the hospital.

MNS
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#91043 - 02/23/08 10:40 AM Re: Black Diamond Whippet vs. Ice Axe? [Re: midnightsun03]
goatpacker Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 86
Loc: Eastern Washington
Thanks MNS--very sound advice.

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#91044 - 02/23/08 11:54 AM Re: Black Diamond Whippet vs. Ice Axe? [Re: goatpacker]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
Quote:

Now if I could just find a trusty L/W axe...



Lots of lightweight axes out there for occasional use. The ULA Potty Trowel is one example. It's not certified hence the name. But is it light. Not as bomber as a "real" ice axe but it is a step above the whippet.

I would take MNS's advice and look around this board and others. You will even find folks who use and like the Whippet.

IMO the axe is just part of a triad which also includes crampons and training/practice. Some will carry an axe without crampons, some will use crampons and count only on their poles for self arrest. But I think most will agree that training and practice are necessary for whatever you use.

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#110159 - 01/27/09 01:58 PM Re: Black Diamond Whippet vs. Ice Axe? [Re: goatpacker]
Becks Offline
member

Registered: 01/27/09
Posts: 18
Loc: Switzerland
Grivel airtech or airtech racing would be options. They are very common here.

my point of view:
I don´t know how steep these mountains are, but I have switched from a typical ice axe (like the airetc) to a technical one because I only need it in steeper parts where a classical one is not the best choice.

Becks

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#110162 - 01/27/09 02:18 PM Re: Black Diamond Whippet vs. Ice Axe? [Re: goatpacker]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Goat packer,
I do have self arrest handles for my old Leki Extreme avo poles. I have never had to use them, and I would only have one - on my best hand - the right side. I am used to holding my iceaxe in my right hand and grabbing the shaft with my left, so I do not want to complicate this automatic move.

Obvioulsy you are ski mounatineering, so carrying a real iceaxe may be really hard unless you tape the axe to your pole.

When ski mountaineering, if you get into a spot where your skis are inadequate, you better have crampons and an iceaxe to take over. Barring this - most ski mounatineers learn to do a self arrest with any ski pole - it works - and ignore the axe. That said - often the usage is not a complete arrest, but to supply drag to sweep your boots and skis under you, so you can then start skiing again. Sliding on steel ski edges is WAY safer than self arrest.

On rotten snow dig in the pick end not the axe end of your iceaxe.

Jim crazy
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#110862 - 02/07/09 11:48 PM Re: Black Diamond Whippet vs. Ice Axe? [Re: Jimshaw]
ajherman Offline
member

Registered: 05/02/06
Posts: 208
Loc: Rock Springs, WY
if you are looking for a light weight axe I would also recomend a look at the camp corsa and neve. i have a previous revision w/ aluminum head and replaceable spike. It has worked well in light technical terrain in snow while hiking.
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#111342 - 02/15/09 10:07 PM Re: Black Diamond Whippet vs. Ice Axe? [Re: goatpacker]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
No matter what ice axe you choose you need to take it out in a safe place (like a ski run) where you can test it and practice your technique. Any ice axe is useless unless it is second nature to quickly get in an arrest postion and properly plant the head. There is a lot more to a self arrest than the equipment. On some snow conditions, no ice axe will work. The most difficult about snow climbing is to judge when to rope up and set an anchor. This is not beginners stuff. You need expert training and lots of practice. If you truely need an ice axe, do not compromise.

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#111382 - 02/16/09 10:48 PM Re: Black Diamond Whippet vs. Ice Axe? [Re: goatpacker]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2752
Loc: California
I forgot to add that I have a short-staffed Grivel Air Tech ice axe that weighs 12 oz. The shaft is light but it has a full weight head. I take this when I anticipate needing an ice axe even when I take trekking poles.


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#111399 - 02/17/09 11:38 AM Re: Black Diamond Whippet vs. Ice Axe? [Re: wandering_daisy]
Pika Offline
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1736
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
I'll second WD on this.

Sometimes, even if you do everything right, you won't be able to stop yourself. I have done a lot of snow and ice climbing over the years and am reasonably practiced at self-arrest. Once, while climbing Boston Peak in the North Cascades, I was cutting steps across a stretch of water-ice on a 45 degree slope when one of my steps flaked off; I was not wearing crampons. They wouldn't have helped here and, in fact, they could have made things worse.

I quickly got into arrest position (toes and pick)and then just rode the ice axe pick, at high speed, down the hard ice slope into a pile of boulders. Fortunately (read incredibly) the only damage to me was a magnificent set of bruises on my legs and butt. I was able to walk out, albeit, slowly.

I came away from this experience with both a renewed respect for how quickly things can happen and a great appreciation for putting in an anchor and a belay before it is needed rather than after.

My companion on this climb was on softer snow and was using a casual boot/axe belay. Moreover,he was wool-gathering (sight-seeing) when I fell. The first he knew about it was when he was yanked out of stance and was sliding down-slope himself. He was able to self-arrest; I think the force expended on yanking him from his stance slowed me enough to avoid worse injury.

The margin for error on ice and snow is quite narrow. Experience and proper equipment can widen the margin but the risk is always there. It is up to the individual to judge how far to push things. But, such judgment can only come with experience. One should never be cocky or cavalier (as I was) on any snow or ice slope with a cliff, or a pile of rocks, at the bottom.

Marginal equipment and lack of knowledge of how to use it are a potentially deadly combination.



Edited by Pika (02/17/09 11:39 AM)
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#111445 - 02/17/09 11:50 PM Re: Black Diamond Whippet vs. Ice Axe? [Re: Pika]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
thirds Pika and WD.
My own Grivel Air Tech is a Mont Blanc from Climb High. It weighs 20 oz, has a long shaft and the bottom 9" or so is a rubber coated textured handle. I would never own another ice axe that didn't have at least a partial rubber handle. Bare aluminum can sap all of the warmth from your hands quickly, especially when wet, even through the best gauntlets.my LaPrade Desmaison at 29 oz and fully rubber coated shaft is a better tool in real use, where step cutting is important and a heavy head brings momentum to chopping through crust. The Grivels are the highest quality, but even so, the heads are really too light for much use.
Jim

The 20 oz axe is still marginal - ok for self arrest and light use, even with its cast chrom moly head, BUT
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#119822 - 08/24/09 09:03 PM Re: Black Diamond Whippet vs. Ice Axe? [Re: Trailrunner]
Echterling Offline
member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 52
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By Trailrunner


Also....Correct me if I'm wrong but the Whippet's pick faces forward as you walk whereas a properly held axe's pick faces rearward. This seems awkward to me. Not only is the Whippet a different tool but it also requires a different technique. Techniques must be practiced to be effective, especially when your safety is involved.


Well, here it is; There are multiple ways to properly hold an ice axe. One way is to hold it with the pick facing rearward, in preparation for self arrest.

Another way is to hold it with the pick facing forward, and the meat of your hand resting on the adze. This is far more comfortable, and allows a much more powerful stab downward. This is called self belay. If you slip, you simply hang on to the axe and it holds you in place. Thus, each step you take is self belayed by your axe. Naturally, this technique requires you to be ambidextrous, as you always use your uphill hand to handle the axe.

I wouldn't consider the whippet for use in any situation where I would want a real ice axe. I do regularly use an ice tool instead of an ice axe.

The whippet seems ideal for mild slopes where a bit of extra security is necessary, such as the ski mountaineering example.
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#166915 - 06/15/12 08:15 AM Re: Black Diamond Whippet vs. Ice Axe? [Re: Jimshaw]
sandia Offline
member

Registered: 04/18/12
Posts: 68
Jimshaw says:"I am used to holding my iceaxe in my right hand and grabbing the shaft with my left, so I do not want to complicate this automatic move."

Jim: you need to always carry axe in your uphill hand. It's the most elemental & rudimentary bit of information there is about using an ice axe.

I know you do a great deal of climbing and have done so for many years. So please, please take my advice if you come to Antarctica again. My SAR unit is too busy as it is what with the spate of diarrhea cases (bring your water filter).

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#166936 - 06/15/12 08:37 PM Re: Black Diamond Whippet vs. Ice Axe? [Re: sandia]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1146
Loc: Washington State, King County
An interesting ancient thread you've resurrected here.

For the O.P. question about Mt. Adams, I'd bring a real axe; maybe a light one, like a Camp Corsa or the like, but I'd go for something you can self-belay with on that Mountain (which btw is a fun climb, with some of the best glissading you'll ever do on the way back down).

For more general mountaineering that doesn't involve a lot of steep slopes, however, I really like the Whippet. I used one for the first month+ on the CDT last year, and it absolutely saved me on one fall in Glacier N.P. I think that in the right situation it's a great option, because for me I'm often less prone to fall in the first place with two poles in my hands rather than an axe (again, however, it's different on quite steep slopes where you're self-belaying frequently).

The Whippet isn't much good for digging a cathole, however, and it's fairly heavy for a trekking pole. It was kind of handy in clearing pine cones off of a camping spot, golf club fashion!
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http://postholer.com/brianle

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