The Masters


Jeff Ward - IFMGA/AMGA Guide

Jeff Ward is an IFMGA-licensed and AMGA-certified Alpine, Ski and Rock Guide. He grew up in the Northwest and is co-owner of North Cascades Mountain Guides (www.ncmountainguides.com) based in Mazama. Ward is a lead instructor for the American Mountain Guides Association and serves on their technical committee.



Martin Volken - IFMGA Guide

Martin Volken is the founder and owner of Pro Guiding Service and Pro Ski and Mountain Service in North Bend, WA. He is a certified IFMGA Swiss Mountain Guide and guides over 120 days per year in North America and Europe as a ski, rock and alpine guide. Volken has pioneered several steep ski descents, ski traverses, alpine and rock routes in the Washington Cascades. He has been a member of the AMGA examiner team since 2000 and has authored and co-authored three books on ski touring and ski mountaineering.

Got a question about climbing? Submit your question in the Ask the Master forum and either Jeff Ward or Martin Volken will supply the answer.

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Waterfall Ice: To Adze, or Not to Adze

25-Jan-2017 01:51 PM

RandytheMuscleManSavage

RandytheMuscleManSavage
Posts: 3

Martin,

I might be stirring the pot a bit with this question, but I've noticed a disturbing trend. It seems like every time I witness a novice ice leader stumbling their way up a WI-3 / WI-4 that they have no business leading, the leader-in-question always has an adze on one of their high-end, aggressive ice tools. I've seen this whether I'm at an ice fest or just down at the local crag. A quick youtube search of "ice climbing falls" also confirms this theory.

Is having an adze on your technical ice tool the mountaineering equivalent of showing up to a bouldering gym with your harness on (aka the sign of a novice)? Or is there a legitimate reason for equipping an aggressive tool with an adze.

Thanks!

  Reply

28-Jan-2017 01:30 PM

Jeff Ward

Jeff Ward
Posts: 27

Randy,

I agree with you that having two hammers makes more sense for most waterfall ice situations.  You can usually take care of all your chopping needs with your pick.  Now, if you are talking more of an alpine setting where you may need an adze for bigger projects, like chopping a bivy ledge or building a snow anchor, then having an adze on your tool might make more sense.  

I remember log ago (20+ years) taking an adze to the head while climbing a long route in the Canadian Rockies.  I was a bloody mess by the time that cut finally froze shut.  I'm pretty sure a hammer to the head is much cleaner than an axe to the head but both are probably worth avoiding.   

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28-Jan-2017 03:02 PM

RandytheMuscleManSavage

RandytheMuscleManSavage
Posts: 3

Ouch! An adze to the face definitely does not sound pleasant. Thanks for the advice, I'll continue to hammer on!

  Reply

08-Feb-2017 08:35 PM

laxman

laxman
Posts: 1

Your tone is very condescending.  As you noted, the article was supposedly directed at higher level ice climbing.  In that context, you might be right.  However, my Petzl Quarks come with an adze and hammer options, and either is included with the total price.  So, you are stuck with the total package.  Should an ice climber buy two hammers to keep you happy?  For vertical ice, I take off both additions (adze and hammer) and screw on the Nomic head weights.  Most of my stuff is alpine mountaineering.  Here the adze is useful.  If I am doing something with pitons (Europe, not US), I switch to a Petzl Sum'Tech hammer (more robust than Quark).  Anyhow, my thoughts -- please keep a more open mind to " new climbers".  it is often the heart, mind, and attitude, rather than super-approved gear that makes the difference in the end in the mountains.
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09-Feb-2017 09:43 AM

RandytheMuscleManSavage

RandytheMuscleManSavage
Posts: 3

Laxman,

Come on now, the question was clearly meant to be a little tongue-in-cheek. Just as I'm not going to "correct" anyone bouldering in a harness, neither am I going to yell up to someone climbing WI-5 with an adze that they're "doing it wrong"... especially since if they're leading WI-5, they're probably stronger than me to begin with!

But my main point is that unless you've struck gold with a life-long climbing partner who is available 24/7, our sport often necessitates making snap judgments about a new potential partner's level of competency. Because of this, the climbing community has accumulated a slew of unwritten rules that have little to do with safety but much to do with conveying competence and experience. The economic term for this is "signaling" - my question was just regarding whether this particular instance was merely a regional phenomena or if it was a commonplace thing globally.

I live in the Midwest and haven't yet had the chance to climb many of the classics in the US, much less take a trip to Chamonix - plus we don't get a whole lot of international travelers flying in to climb our abandoned grain silos and munch on our frozen corn, so obviously my local sample size is a little small. Just lookin' to expand my horizons ;)

Obviously that's also a central reason why I subscribe to Rock and Ice - even a small-town ice boy's gotta have dreams, right?

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