2014 Staff Picks
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Jan 1, 2015 at 11:23 am #1324117Jan 1, 2015 at 11:44 am #2160680
@ Roger. How many months or km are you getting out of a pair of Leadvilles?Jan 1, 2015 at 12:31 pm #2160682
RE the Suluk46 Tica Ice Tool
Doug Johnson writes: "It self-arrests and self-belays with conviction, and has joined me across many glaciers and alpine routes."
But the manufacturer of this tool writes: "The TiCa Ice Tool is the lightest way to cross high country snow fields. It was inspired by traditional hill walking axes, but built with modern ultralight materials. It provides more stability on low angle snowy terrain than trekking poles at a fraction of the weight of a certified ice axe. The tool was developed in the Backpackinglight forums and is built in Toronto, Canada. The TiCa Ice Tool is not a replacement for a UIAA-certified ice axe on technical terrain and should not be used where life or safety is at risk."
In other words, it is a walking stick…. it is not recommended for self-arrests and self-blays and is "not a replacement for a UIAA-certified ice axe on technical terrain and should not be used where life or safety is at risk."
I read the test specs at the suluk46.com web site a couple of years ago and it breaks where the shaft is joined to the head at some very low levels of weighting… especially when pressure applied ant an angle to the shaft as in a self-arrest.
I think it a be misleading if not irresponsible to recommend this the way that Doug Johnson presents it.
billyJan 1, 2015 at 12:33 pm #2160683
> How many months or km are you getting out of a pair of Leadvilles?
I don't think months by themselves are a good measure, as it really depends on km plus what we are doing in those km.
There several ways a shoe can reach end of life:
You can trash the outer through scrub (this hasn't happened with these yet)
You can trash the sole over rock (this hasn't happened with these either)
You can collapse the foam footbed inside the shoe.
Walking puts a lot less stress on the insole foam compared to running. You impact on the ball of your foot much harder when running, and there's not much they can do to improve that foam (so far). I am not all that sensitive to the exact contours of the footbed, so I don't notice a little bit of insole compression, but my wife Sue is. She is especially sensitive to any collapse under the ball of the foot, just behind the big toe. This may reflect some very old foot injury – we don't know.
Runners World reckons on 500 km to 800 km for the Leadvilles; Sue's records indicate that her first pair lasted about 1000 km of fairly flat running before the insole became noticeably collapsed. (That was about 6 months daily running.) Her second pair lasted about 600 km before she noticed some collapse and switched to some different shoes, but that does not mean that second pair were at end of life. I wanted her to field test some new shoes, so she did. She still has the second pair of Leadvilles as a backup. She is currently running on a third pair, and expects to get about 1000 km out of them.
Now, walking (instead of running) …. hard to say. I would certainly expect one pair of Leadvilles to last me for a full 2 months walking in the European Alps. I would expect them to have some life left after that in fact.
Does this help?
CheersJan 1, 2015 at 12:44 pm #2160685
> it breaks where the shaft is joined to the head at some very low levels of
> weighting… especially when pressure applied ant an angle to the shaft as in
> a self-arrest.
We did review the axe, and Steve had done some extensive testing of it to the UIAA specifications. It did fail one test, but my memory is that the failure was not at 'some very low level'. So I would have to disagree a bit with the criticism.
What should not be ignored is that UIAA testing is fairly harsh (justifiably so of course), plus Doug has USED the axe for self-arrest while walking a number of times. For that matter, I have used it while walking as well, and it was fine for my walking needs too. No way is anyone suggesting it should be used for technical climbing.
My own opinion is that there is a serious hole in the market, between a CF trekking pole and a full-on UIAA-certified climbing axe. This axe fits right in that 'hill-walking aid' class.
CheersJan 1, 2015 at 12:56 pm #2160688Jan 1, 2015 at 12:57 pm #2160689
I suggest you find the specs. As I recall the failure for lateral force that weighted the shaft/head joint was at something like 120 or 150 lbs… that's ridiculously low.
That means if you just fall on it (like you are supposed to do for self-arrest), it would break. If you just look at the way it is built I think it is intuitive that the metal male part of the head inserting into the thin fiberglass tubing is a very weak spot.
Doug Johnson says, "self-arrests and self-belays with conviction"
Self-arrest and self-belay is by definition technical climbing. It may not be ice climbing, but it is technical climbing. If this walking stick breaks where a self-arrest is really needed you could be killed even if it's not vertical ice.
Further,,, just making this 'walking stick' look like a real ice axe and calling it an ice axe will encourage the testosterone drunk, ultralight obsessive gear heads to use it like an ice axe… very foolish and dangerous. If there is any chance you will need to self-arrest you should take a real ice axe… not this toy.
BillyJan 1, 2015 at 1:14 pm #2160699
I assume Sue is rather light. How long do the shoes last for you if she is getting 1000km?
I didn't need anything other than the 1000km number, but thanks.
I find the midsole and the soles themselves to fail way before there is significant wear on the upper. I am 215lb though. I wanted to believe that the Vibram sole would be a big step forward, but not so IME.Jan 1, 2015 at 1:27 pm #2160705
The following are the test data found at: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/myog_titanium_carbon_fiber_ice_axe.html#.VKW1WXuXq7B
To summarize, various failures at 237 lbs, 40 lbs, 47 lbs, and 323 lbs..
Good God man… just falling on this 'walking axe' will break it…
This should only be used for balance when walking on snow… For ANY situation where a self-arrest could mean serious injury or death this 'walking' axe should NOT be used. And I feel it irresponsible for BPL to recommend this for self-belay or self-arrest, both of with would only be necessary in situations where serious injury could result.
Billy…. read below for the test results or the link above.
Test 3: Shaft Strength – Bending
Testing the carbon fiber shaft to destruction.
By steadily increasing the lever ratio here, I was able to show that the shaft could take a load of 215 pounds (97.5 kilograms) but it snapped at 237 pounds (107.5 kilograms).
Test 4: Spike Cantilever
MYOG Ice Axe – 27
Testing the strength of the head and head attachment.
This test assesses the strength of the spike against a load at the tip, in a cantilever mode. It also tests the strength of the shaft where it joins the head. I made up a test jig for this, along the lines of the UIAA diagram. The UIAA specification requires that the shaft support a load of 132 pounds (60 kilograms) at 20 in (50 centimeters). At 40 pounds (18 kilograms), the axe began to creak and was deflecting a substantial amount. It was obvious that it was not going to hold much more, and I knew that the break would happen where the shaft comes out of the head. That is, the shaft, rather than the pick, would fail.
MYOG Ice Axe – 28
Testing the strength of the shaft alone against bending.
Instead of destroying the whole axe at this stage, I decided to take one of the extra shafts and test it to failure in a similar manner. After all, I wanted to keep the fruits of all my labor! I made up a suitable test jig and loaded the shaft at different distances. It snapped where the head would be at an equivalent load of 47 pounds (26.5 kilograms). This is 35% of the UIAA rating.
Test 5: Head Side Load
MYOG Ice Axe – 29
Testing the head sideways.
I knew from tests on earlier versions that the axe would do fairly well in this test. I had to resort to levers again to get a high force. The UIAA requirement is that the head withstand a sideways load of 562 pounds (250 kilograms). I was able to get to 323 pounds (146 kilograms) with my length of pipe, but the axe didn't fail. This is 57% of the UIAA specification. Would a walking axe ever experience this sort of load in the field? I doubt it.
Test 6: Assembly Strength – Tension
This was a repeat of Test 2, but while using leverage. The UIAA requirement is that the assembly withstand a lengthwise load of 449 pounds (200 kilograms). Again, I was able to get to 323 pounds (146 kilograms), but there was no sign of the epoxy failing. The axe withstands 72% of this rating. Clearly, this epoxy is worth its salt!Jan 1, 2015 at 3:29 pm #2160723
> I think it is intuitive that the metal male part of the head inserting into the
> thin fiberglass tubing is a very weak spot.
I wonder whether you are confusing the Helix Potty Trowel with Steve's TiCa axe? I suggest this because what you are describing applies to the Potty Trowel but not the TiCa axe. In the Potty Trowel the head does fit into the CF shaft as you describe, but in the TiCa axe the shaft fits into the head. The head connection on the TiCa was deliberately lengthened to get more strength there.
> That means if you just fall on it (like you are supposed to do for self-arrest),
> it would break.
> Good God man… just falling on this 'walking axe' will break it…
That's your theory. It doesn't seem to happen in practice – over many tries. Perhaps the theory is wrong?
> If this walking stick breaks where a self-arrest is really needed you could be
> killed even if it's not vertical ice.
True, true – but people have been using it for self-arrest many times without it breaking. If you are wearing light joggers on old neve at just 20 degrees, you can slip. (Ahem …)
But then, if you have a UIAA-certified axe and it slips out of your hand in a self-arrest on steep stuff, you could be killed. If you have a UIAA-certified Class B axe and you fall on the spike – you could also be killed. Do you blame the axe – or the user?
> calling it an ice axe will encourage the testosterone drunk, ultralight obsessive
> gear heads to use it like an ice axe… very foolish and dangerous.
Oh, I think we would all agree with you there, at least with regard to real technical climbing. But there is nothing wrong with its design as a hill-walking aid: it seems to satisfy a number of people very nicely (without breaking).
As for deliberate misuse or incompetent user – Darwin Award territory. Tough.
Don't blame the gear, blame the (mis-)user.
PS: I know the specs very well: I helped write the article.Jan 1, 2015 at 3:30 pm #2160724Stephen MBPL Member
@stephen-mLocale: Way up North
Why does it say to support Bpl and purchase these items?Jan 1, 2015 at 3:39 pm #2160727
> I assume Sue is rather light.
Well, noticeably lighter than me, certainly. I am not authorised beyond that. :-)
I am 10 stone (64 kg).
> How long do the shoes last for you if she is getting 1000km?
I haven't worn my first pair out yet, so I can't say. Certainly more than 1000 km. We know Sue's feet are more sensitive than mine for this. My weakness would be inadequate width, but I take care of that by buying the right width (4E) to start.
> I find the midsole and the soles themselves to fail way before there is significant
> wear on the upper. I am 215lb though.
Interesting. Would you have any photos of the worn sole? I would love to see how the Vibram sole dies.
CheersJan 1, 2015 at 3:44 pm #2160728
No confusion. I know exactly what the tool is and I have read the specs.
What I take issue with is BPL staff promoting this tool for "self-arrest and self-belay"
This is a walking stick; not to be depended on for self-belay or self-arrest.
If you chose do do so, well that's up to you.
But please do not promote or defend that use of the tool on BPL.
There are many people on BPL who don't have the good judgement to know what they are deciding on that issue… perhaps most here on BPL would not have the experience to make that judgement.
Or at least they should be warned about the inadequacies of this tool as a substitute for an ice axe. But that's now what is happening, rather a BPL Staff member is promoting this tool for "self-arrest and self-belay". That's not right and deceptive, if not dangerous.
BillyJan 1, 2015 at 3:58 pm #2160732Katherine .BPL Member
There's an arrangement through Amazon where if you mention something they sell on your site/blog/whatever and provide a certain sort of link to it, then you can get some small cut.
So if you were going to buy any of these items anyway, may as well let BPL take some of the proceeds. (as I will do eventually with a Kovea Spider purchase).Jan 1, 2015 at 4:07 pm #2160736
I understand where you are coming from and what you are concerned about. Fair enough, and your concerns are appreciated.
But … I have heard VERY similar arguments (from the likes of Scarpa and some walkers) about the extreme danger of wearing light jogging footwear in the mountains instead of nice big heavy 'safe' leather boots. We have successfully challenged those claims by wearing light joggers in the mountains and not getting killed by them. Scarpa went so far as to cancel all advertising in one magazine because of my comments. Tough.
I have about 5 ice axes in the cupboard. I have used all of them. I find the Suluk TiCf axe to be just the thing for hill walking, and so have others. That's hard field test data, not theory.
More technically, when I lean on the head for a self-arrest, most of the forces are directly on the head, not on the shaft. Since my other hand is way down the shaft, I doubt I can get much force onto the shaft anyhow. It just steers.
I have never used the TiCf axe for SELF belay, and I wouldn't. But I have and would use it as an anchor for me to to belay my wife on a slippery bit of not-steep neve. In that case the forces are solely on the shaft, and they will be quite light. Again, it works fine for that. More hard field test data.
CheersJan 1, 2015 at 4:09 pm #2160738Stephen MBPL Member
@stephen-mLocale: Way up North
That makes sense Katherine, thanks for the info.Jan 1, 2015 at 4:25 pm #2160742Serge GiachettiSpectator
@sgiachettiLocale: Boulder, CO
I appreciate the glowing review of the the rx100, Ryan–it too is my favorite backpacking camera ever. I upgraded from the 1 to the 3 this year, and the lense/sensor combo is noticeably sharper and more consistent across the frame. And the pop up viewfinder is genius. 'Getting the shot' can be a fairly obsessive pursuit, sometimes so much that is gets in the way of my relationship with the landscape, and can slow my progress on the trail. Thus, the added weight and complexity of carrying a camera system (even a small mirrorless one) can serve to over-mediate the experience. But this little guy, with its fixed zoom lense, is perfect for quickdraw point in shoot photography, with all the quality you could want for big detailed landscapes. I learned photography on what was one of the first affordable DSLR's, the nikon d70, and I never imagined I'd be getting so far beyond that level of quality in a camera that fits in my pocket.Jan 1, 2015 at 4:36 pm #2160746
You do like to argue… Roger…
we're not talking about footwear here Roger…
we're talking about a potential life and death tool…
so you are kinda 'beating the straw man' on that one…
And the 'data' that you offer is not data at all… they're anecdotal stories…
sure, lots of people do lots of stupid things with gear… and take lots of stupid risks… but it is unwise to promote that on BPL… and potentially get someone else doing something stupid that could get them killed…
Unless you BLP Staffers are willing to write some quite detailed instructions as to when to and when not to use this TiCa Ice Tool, I don't think you guys should be promoting the use of this tool in "self-arrest and self-belay"… That could get some uniformed readers thinking this thing is a great way to save weight and still have a fully capable ice axe…
billyJan 1, 2015 at 4:56 pm #2160753Ross MellowsBPL Member
@spiritburnerLocale: N.E. England (UK)
It's a good idea to practice self-arrest from time to time to keep yourself sharp. Something I'm guilty of not having done for a good few years.
I wouldn't trust carbon fibre in tent poles never mind an ice axe & I'd hope anyone who plans to use one of these where self arrest is a possibility not to practice with it. If it does stop you ok it may sustain unseen damage which may cause it to fail on you big time the next time it's called upon.Jan 1, 2015 at 5:17 pm #2160760Andrea FeuchtBPL Member
I've lately been coveting what sounds like the first camera to actually compete with the RX100 – the new Canon GX7. It's $100 less and lots of people are going gaga over it. :-)
I don't have one yet, but thought I'd add another contender to the pile.Jan 1, 2015 at 5:40 pm #2160768Fred GerberBPL Member
I finally got one last year. I've been a big user of pyramids for years (ultra mid, Kifaru). I really like the versatility of the ShangriLa 5. It's a real shame that Go lite went under. I'll still be using mine for a long time.Jan 1, 2015 at 10:09 pm #2160831Doug JohnsonBPL Member
@djohnsonLocale: Pacific Northwest
Ross, Billy, and Roger:
I appreciate the discussion regarding my use of this ice tool. In my write up I clearly say "non-technical climbs" and that is what I meant. I do many climbs that include routes on snow where one is unroped, and travel without an axe is possible. But by having this ice axe, I am able to remain in snow rather than move to sketchy rock, or to self-belay mid-slope for additional safety, (meaning to plant the axe and hold on using a self-belay position to remain stationary) or to descend a snowfield quickly and use a self-arrest when needed. But I was clear when I said "non-technical" and to me, this means that the axe provides an element of safety, rather than being relied upon to save myself or others from death by crevasse or falling off a high-angle ice fall; I use other ice tools for these situations. I would not use this axe for a boot-axe belay, or other techniques.
That said, I have fallen on this axe and it did not break. I have been flying down snowfields (with good runout) and self-arrested with perfection. I love this tool and I stand by my selection, and also my wording. I do appreciate the commentary, but I agree with Roger that there are many situations when an ice axe can add an element of safety but a full axe is not necessary.
There are two pack rafts in this article, but there are rivers where a pack raft would not be a safe or appropriate choice. The user must determine the appropriate gear selection for a particular situation, and to live within their skills. I feel this axe is a similar selection, but I respect others' dissenting viewpoints.
Best, DougJan 1, 2015 at 10:21 pm #2160832Adam KlagsBPL Member
@klagsLocale: Northeast USA
From another perspective, Billy Ray, you seem to be the one who "likes to argue" in this case. I think Roger has made his point well. Any intelligent human being knows not to rely on this axe entirely. Or any axe.
For some people, we have what is called "calculated risk," are you familiar with that idea, Billy?
Let's be honest. Walking on snow is not something you can "completely be safe" with. The certified axes are equally dangerous, just in different ways. For example, falling on it or using it wrong can result in death.
Furthermore, in no way can you guarantee that you, me, Roger, any reader, etc is going to be able to save their own life with EITHER axe in a fall or accident.
Many people who do through hikes that may encounter a large snow field or two find this UL axe useful, mostly as a walking aid, AND are also willing to take a CALCULATED RISK that based on this product's actual use and field testing, it is sufficient.
Now we can spend all day watching you stand on your soapbox and yell about how its unsafe or irresponsible of BPL to do whatever you say is wrong here, but instead, I think you should just let people make their own decisions based on a good amount of information they can find on this product here and elsewhere.
In the end, you've made your point… but you fail to recognize that most of us probably don't need you to "protect us" because its pretty clear both here and on the producer's website that this is not being advertised or sold as "a fully capable ice axe."
edited for spelling/grammarJan 3, 2015 at 7:28 am #2161119
Billy before you post a reply, don't.
+1 w Adam and Doug.
@Roger. I'll get a shot up of the sole today.Jan 3, 2015 at 8:47 am #2161147peter vaccoMember
@fluffinreach-comLocale: no. california
" Does this mean I am labeling as useless all those heavier features like mirrors, lenses and prisms and other do-dads? "
being as you can usually split 1°~ 2° with a std setup, you won't be able to exploit the caca features for any useful degree of improved accuracy.
but the magnifier lens is a nifty thing to have when one is old and tired.
the lanyard is best to be a Very bright color. and the knot wants to be sewn and glued.
if not wearing glasses, watch your compass/lanyard rig in strong wind, it can whip up around and corner poke you in the eye.
we have here somewhere on the forum , and fellow who knows EVERYTHING about compass's (compai ? )
bottom line, as i grasp it .. buy suunto.
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