Friday, February 17, 2012

Ice Screw, Crampon, and Ice Tool Sharpening

I have gotten into mixed climbing a bit more this year than I have in the past, which means that I have also had to sharpen my ice tools and crampons quite a bit more as well.  I haven't had to sharpen my ice screws yet, thank goodness. 

When looking for resources on how to properly sharpen such items, I have found these links to be particularly  helpful:

Ice Picks:

My personal thoughts:  The videos above are particularly helpful if you climb on Petzl tools, which seem to be the hottest tools on the market these days.  I, however, have found that I like the CAMP Awax or Cassin x-all mountain picks better than the current Petzl picks, and have filed other picks down to resemble the x-all mountain/Awax pick profile.  The x-all mountain/awax picks stick extremely well in ice due to their narrow profile; sometimes too well.  My friend Phil (currently uses x-all mountain picks most of the time ) and I (usually use Awax picks) have found that filing the first tooth down is helpful in removing them from ice.  They also climb well on rock, even though they're b-rated picks.  I have cammed them in horizontal seams without a problem.  I have climbed on BD Laser picks, BD Titan picks, Petzl Cascade picks, and Petzl Nomic ice picks (though not extensively).  Awax and x-all mountain picks are my favorites on ice, so far.  I haven't climbed much mixed on all these picks mentioned.  A lot of t-rated picks out there are so thick that they displace a lot of ice and don't climb as well on brittle ice. 
Cassin x-all mountain pick profile




Keep your crampons sharp. It can not be emphasized enough. This means every point from the front to the secondary to the back. Repeated filing will eventually wear down your crampons and you will either need to buy replacement front points or new crampons. It is worth it.You will climb more efficiently and more confidently with sharp points. To sharpen them, start with the front points. If they are vertical points, you should sharpen them like you would sharpen the pick of an ice tool make sure to keep the original angles and file towards the back. Get the tip to an actual sharp point. For the rest of the points, and for horizontal front points (like the Sabertooths pictured above), file the left and right edges until you have a sharp point. You should not file on the wide side of the point. A vise can be helpful to hold the crampons still while working on them.

Ice Screws:

From Petzl:

From Black Diamond:

Enjoy!  Great music in these videos ;)  I almost didn't make it through the video, until I realized I could turn the sound off.

I hope these resources are helpful.

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