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Taking a Beginner...
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onrockandice


Feb 8, 2010, 3:36 PM
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Taking a Beginner...
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A few days ago I was talking to some friends about taking a beginner climbing ice. I mentioned that they would have to use fusion tools and it was said that was, "a lot of tool for a beginner" by one of them. I thought the comment odd but didn't have time to pursue it further.

What would be a more appropriate tool for a beginner? I'm not a guru and still have plenty to learn so don't lecture my apparent lack of knowledge. We all get to start somewhere and this just happens to be where I am. (NOTE: I changed the trip to include 2 other very experienced climbers so we are not totally going it alone.)


coastal_climber


Feb 8, 2010, 4:14 PM
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I wouldn't say its "a lot of tool" but I bet they're lighter than say, quarks, or vipers, so the beginner climber might have trouble sinking it... Other than that, nothing wrong with using those that I can think of.


swaghole


Feb 8, 2010, 6:43 PM
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coastal_climber wrote:
I wouldn't say its "a lot of tool" but I bet they're lighter than say, quarks, or vipers, so the beginner climber might have trouble sinking it... Other than that, nothing wrong with using those that I can think of.

What he said.


dr_feelgood


Feb 8, 2010, 7:39 PM
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swaghole wrote:
coastal_climber wrote:
I wouldn't say its "a lot of tool" but I bet they're lighter than say, quarks, or vipers, so the beginner climber might have trouble sinking it... Other than that, nothing wrong with using those that I can think of.

What he said.

The current, soon to be dead generation of aging ice climbers thinks that as a rite of passage into the halls of the hallowed, any n00b needs to spend a season in strap on sabreteef and a set of secondhand charlet-moser tools getting frostbite and bashing the fuck out of their knuckles.

They're like rock shoes, only 2-4 times the price. Each.


coastal_climber


Feb 8, 2010, 7:58 PM
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dr_feelgood wrote:
The current, soon to be dead generation of aging ice climbers thinks that as a rite of passage into the halls of the hallowed, any n00b needs to spend a season in strap on sabreteef and a set of secondhand charlet-moser tools getting frostbite and bashing the fuck out of their knuckles.


I'm 19. And I like some weight behind my swing.


onrockandice


Feb 8, 2010, 8:10 PM
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Totally love it. My rock shoes have been bashing the hell out of my knuckles too. I cannot get them to sink and when I match hands it just goes to hell. I taped the axes to my calves like any good nOOb and somehow it just feels all backwards.Wink


brokesomeribs


Feb 9, 2010, 12:11 AM
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I've taken a couple n00bs out for a day of ice climbing. As long as they're a competent lead belayer and exhibit a bit of common sense, there's no reason why a day of roadside cragging can't be safely accomplished.

Of course, single pitch only, and I try to keep approach times under 20-30 minutes, just in case. As long as you give them the "You're wearing/carrying about 26 razor sharp spikes on your body right now. Watch out for flesh, the rope, and your pants" talk, they'll usually do fine.


cantbuymefriends


Feb 9, 2010, 1:54 AM
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swaghole wrote:
coastal_climber wrote:
I wouldn't say its "a lot of tool" but I bet they're lighter than say, quarks, or vipers, so the beginner climber might have trouble sinking it... Other than that, nothing wrong with using those that I can think of.

What he said.
What he said, except that the Fusion, atleast the older orange model, is a bit heavier than the Quark. And bottom-heavy to that. With the extra material in the bent, bolted-together handle.

The downward/hooking swing of newer aggressive icetools can also be funky to get the hang on for a beginner. But hey, it's all part of the learning experience. Smile


jaablink


Feb 9, 2010, 4:45 AM
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I am surprised the old people weren’t the first to tell you this…

Beginners don’t get to use axes. They get practice walking up 2’s first , so they learn how to use their crampons correctly…

That said: the second does not need a "real tool"…. Even if they use two different tools , it really doesn’t matter….


kachoong


Feb 9, 2010, 6:17 AM
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dr_feelgood wrote:
swaghole wrote:
coastal_climber wrote:
I wouldn't say its "a lot of tool" but I bet they're lighter than say, quarks, or vipers, so the beginner climber might have trouble sinking it... Other than that, nothing wrong with using those that I can think of.

What he said.

The current, soon to be dead generation of aging ice climbers thinks that as a rite of passage into the halls of the hallowed, any n00b needs to spend a season in strap on sabreteef and a set of secondhand charlet-moser tools getting frostbite and bashing the fuck out of their knuckles.

They're like rock shoes, only 2-4 times the price. Each.

You forgot the leashes... n00bs will drop their tool(s)!


dan2see


Feb 9, 2010, 6:41 AM
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Hey you guys, I don't like the way you say that a beginner doesn't need a "real tool". Well I'm a beginner, and I'd like to tell you what the quality of the gear means to me.

Last winter was my first time ever on ice.
I wore my hiking boots that flexed too much. When the ice got vertical, my toe points would just slip right out, although I was able to struggle from mini-ledge to mini-ledge. Somebody loaned me his old BD Ravens Vipers, but they needed sharpening badly. The sun was shining on the ice, so it was soft enough for the blunt picks, but when I climbed onto a section of icicles, I just hooked the pick between lumps, rather than work so hard.
The important lesson I learned that day was, my points can pop off, but I could usually recover.
When I got back down, my friends commented "Hey Dan were you ice climbing or rock climbing?" I answered "No I was desperate!"
Really the ice was fun, but the gear sucked and I couldn't play anymore.

This winter, I'm renting gear from MEC in town. Excellent double mountaineers boots, super crampons, and for tools I have a choice of BD Cobra or Petzl Charlet -- all sharp!
What a difference!
We've been on a few routes, all WI-3, all two-pitch, all successful. I can walk up plain vertical ice -- all I have to do is kick my toes at it.
As for the tools: OK my technique is terrible, my style sucks, but I smack the pick at the ice and it stays there. Actually I'm never sure how well it'll stick, but it's always good enough for my next swing -- and I keep moving up.
Man it's wonderful.

So I'm saying to you guys: On ice you climb on your picks and points. Your beginner has a lot to learn, so make it possible, make it practical -- give him the advantage he needs to succeed. Then when he's experienced to choose his own gear, he'll be ready for challenge.


(This post was edited by dan2see on Feb 9, 2010, 7:57 AM)


granite_grrl


Feb 9, 2010, 6:50 AM
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I remember heading out with my friend one of her first times out. Handed her my old Vipers and told her to go. You tend to have to overdrive the old Vipers to get a secure feeling and she was having problems. She was a happy camper when I let her use my Nomics instead. Not as likely to want to overdrive, but it's not like her swing got any better.

In the end it doesn't matter what tool you let the people use. They're going to be hacks and will do hacking. Many people will have a pretty weak swing and believing that the tools will hold them is a big step. So something with a steep pick angle might be best.


hhelbein


Feb 9, 2010, 7:34 AM
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A buddy took me ice climbing for the first time last season. I used my Venom (with a tech pick at least) and I think a Grivel AT EVO. It was hell trying to get that Grivel to stick. Being my first time, of course it was a hack and slash fest. I say give them two long mountaineering axes. Oh, and make sure to make them follow you up something overhanging to put the fear of god in them. Great times... great times...


atg200


Feb 9, 2010, 7:37 AM
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You know, 10 minutes with a bastard file and those tools will be sharp again.


dan2see


Feb 9, 2010, 7:59 AM
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atg200 wrote:
You know, 10 minutes with a bastard file and those tools will be sharp again.

I know. I'm good with a file.
But they weren't my tools.


(This post was edited by dan2see on Feb 9, 2010, 7:59 AM)


jaablink


Feb 9, 2010, 9:10 AM
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Many great climbers today learned using what was available to them, usually miss-matched hand-me-downs.

I have noticed every professional certified instructor i know will introduce a student to an ice slab without an ax. This gives the student a solid understanding of the crampons capabilities.

The next thing a new student is taught is that “mountains are weak and valleys are strong” . Concave ice is structurally strong and a good aiming point for the pick, convex ice is weak and will break easy. You will need to exert allot of energy to make a good hole……………………………….....You should know what to aim for before you go swinging away randomly.....
A short brief on body position. Then you get to play with the ax…..that’s right 1 ax. Not 2 yet….
Another short brief then you get the other ax…

Any set of light tools are good for a beginner. The nice thing about most light tools is that you can usually get weight kits to make them real tools when you are ready.

As for needing sharp picks …. I second for Steve Cahill (who is 50 this year and still a badass) on Remission and Repentance new years day (it was an epic day) Steve’s picks are blunt . I don’t think he has sharpened them in years, and yet he still managed to lead every pitch with those blunt picks and the points on the crampons did not look much better…

I adopted that term from Steve House who was just up here for the ice fest. The second does not need a “real tool.” he says it here too http://www.youtube.com/...&feature=channel


qwert


Feb 9, 2010, 10:48 AM
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I would say it depends what you will do with your beginners, and what the beginners are like.

But i guess generally i would prefer a "normal" tool like the BD viper instead of fusions or such, since this probably is what they will use mostly from the start on, especially if they dont plan on going mixed/dry.

Just make shure its reasonably sharp, and has a pinky rest to use it leashless (a second "handle" also might be a good idea).

What i mean with "what the beginners are like":
It seems like there are two kinds: The hookers and the swingers (pun intended).
The first always just hooks the tool (behind icicles, in the pick positions from the leader and so on) and the second swings the tool like there is no tomorrow. Ironically this seems to be a gender difference Blush

For the hookers i drytool would be better, but i would rather teach them the "right" way, and for that a normal tool should be better.

qwert


graniteboy


Feb 9, 2010, 5:45 PM
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dr_feelgood wrote:
swaghole wrote:
coastal_climber wrote:
I wouldn't say its "a lot of tool" but I bet they're lighter than say, quarks, or vipers, so the beginner climber might have trouble sinking it... Other than that, nothing wrong with using those that I can think of.

What he said.

The current, soon to be dead generation of aging ice climbers thinks that as a rite of passage into the halls of the hallowed, any n00b needs to spend a season in strap on sabreteef and a set of secondhand charlet-moser tools getting frostbite and bashing the fuck out of their knuckles.

They're like rock shoes, only 2-4 times the price. Each.

Well, I'm one of these alleged to soon be dead old alpinists...and I have this to say: I'd much rather have a beginner bashing the hell out of my old prophets, rather than bashing some new 500$ a pop techno tools that he won't understand the nuances of, anyway.


petsfed


Feb 9, 2010, 6:22 PM
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Its like putting a 16 year old in the drivers seat on a Ferrari. There's a lot of nuance to the way BD tools swing anyway, and the fusion is worse than most because its not meant for swinging so much as hooking. Anybody's first day is gonna suck because they don't know what they're doing. Don't stack an equipment-driven steep learning curve on top of that.

BD even makes an ice specific leashless tool (the Reactor) because of the Fusion's shortcomings as a pure ice tool.

You don't put gumbies in testarossas either, for the same reason.


onrockandice


Feb 10, 2010, 12:00 PM
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Great thread so far. I'm soaking it in.


smallclimber


Feb 10, 2010, 1:47 PM
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If its truely a beginner beginner then you are probably only going to set a few top ropes for them, in which case just let them use whatever you use. Save them buying or even renting for the day. Of course if you are planning a multi pitch this won't work, but for a first day I'd be inclined to stick to top roping as you'll both keep moving (and hence warm) better.


onrockandice


Feb 10, 2010, 3:59 PM
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I'd never take any beginner on any multi-pitch be it rock or ice. I think I'd want to test their mettle first.

Climbing really gets in your head for a bit when you first start and it either stays there (bad) or it joins the rest of the warped things sharing your mind (better).Cool


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