Recently, DRY ICE was sponsored the 2013 MWV Ice Festival. We were able to meet face to face with new climbers, old climbers, drink great beer and make even greater friends at the mountain shop in North Conway, NH, IME.
When we left, IME became an outlet for DRY ICE Tools, and afterwards, whether it was too corny or not, I wrote Celia Wilcox, busniess manager at IME and Rick Wilcox's wife, this letter:
Ever since I was a young Boy Scout near Boston, I have been coming up to North Conway for hiking, skiing, and climbing. IME was always my first stop, and sometimes my only stop. I'd peruse the shop, dreaming of my own adventures to come, and Rick would be chatting up some customer, and I'd be too scared to say anything to him. I had read so much about him and his adventures. He was like a God to me back then, and he continues to occupy a place of reverence in my climbing psyche.
You're placing an 8cm 'stubby' screw in questionable ice. With each turn you think, "Yeah. Maybe. Uh Huh. Sure." You look at the next few moves and where you next placement might be. Oh... looks like about 15ft. That means at least a 30 footer onto this silly excuse for 'pro'. I know! I clip a screamer to it and all will be right with the world!
Screamers, those unfortunately yet excitingly named pieces of shock limiting gear that we climbers use under the impression the they will actually save us, aren't a new idea. Screamers 'rip' some light duty stitching of folded over webbing that is activated at about 450lbs. The standard "Screamer" can effectively reduce peak loads by 3-4 kN an any climbing or rescue system. Screamer is actually the name that Yates uses for their load limiters, but mostly everyone uses the term for all load limiters:
Petzl makes one:
Mammut makes one:
I'm sure there are others.
But THIS NEW ONE by the Barcelona based E-Climb takes the award for innovation. Now you can REUSE your screamer if you taken a fall on it. You see after a regular screamer is blown, it's useless. It's a 1" wide 2' mess of a sling that is not longer refoldable or resewable. E-Climb designed this confusing looking device called the 'Dissip' that a small sling threads into and provides load limiting slipping friction via the latticework to slow a climber down in a fall. Then all you have to do is rethread the sling and viola, screamer ready to catch the next whip.
Pretty sweet eh? Two problems. I cannot find any info on the Dissip in action, and from their marketing material the slings can only take 5 falls. Seems like a nice idea though. That's 4 more falls than a regular screamer. Watch out though, you MUST use their sling since a regular dyneema sling will MELT from the heat created from the slipping action. This is prolly the reason I wouldn't use these. I do NOT want to be run out on some grade 6 moster wondering if I rethreaded my Dissip with the correct sling...
But that's not all!
The steel tips are removable from the super light aluminum screws, and replaceable via threads and glue. Glue?! Yes, glue. I think that sounds 'very interesting' let's say. "Hey bud, I think I may blow it here. Not to worry, the tips of my screws are GLUED ON! Right then, got me?"
This may seem detrimental to my buddies who run ice screw sharpening businesses, and it may well be if the idea takes off. But for now, the replaceable tips idea remains in Europe.
Till then, enjpy some ridiculous chicanery brought to us by our friends at E-Climb:
When I was kid, I had a small tree house in the backyard. Being the third child, my parents weren't all that involved in my childhood ramblings in the back of our house, but the tree house was basically a throw away piece of 3/4" plywood that was shaped like a quarter circle pie wedge. I nailed it to a couple branches in a spruce tree about 8" up, and with the final nail the adventures flooded my childhood mind like a coked up Indiana Jones. "This Tree House Belongs in a Museum!" I even built a clearly sturdy rope ladder for which to haul my childhood obesity up into the sky, swinging from branch to branch narrowly escaping the natives that were keen to see my shrunken head adorn their bamboo trophy cases. In my mind, my perfect creation was nothing less than an unequaled wood worker's masterpiece:
In reality, it was a serious death trap and potentially hazardous falling object with a 'rope ladder' that was actually a 6' piece of thin cotton sash cord tied with square knot to a black leather belt I found on the street in front of our house from which I did, in fact, one day break my left arm in a fall from the 8' Swiss Family Condo:
I believe it was in that single level arboreal Ritz Carlton that the seeds of fascination with ropework, acrophobic exposure, and a Darwinistic desire to seek challenge and adventure took their fateful roots.
I was led to Alastair Humphreys and the concept of microadventures by a podcast I frequent, The Dirtbag Diaries. In that episode, The Sufferthon, Fitz Cahall conducts a short interview with Alastair about how adventure is only a state of mind. I love this kind of thing because I totally agree. "Adventure is accessible to normal people, in normal places, in short segments of time and without having to spend much money." Alastair goes on to describe some of his local adventures in the London area such as:
Walking a Lap of the M25, a roughly 120 mile loop road around London
365 Day Photo Project, where he endeavored to take a photo every day of the year
And my favorite due it it's simplicity:
Sleep on a Hill, where he um, goes out and sleeps on a hill:
DRY ICE was born from that unquantifiable passion. Driven by the desire to mix it up, to get out of the compfort zone, to challenge the norm, George and I developed these tools to do something different. We saw a void and DRY ICE fills it. When climbing with DRY ICE, you'll quickly understand that indoor climbing can be so much more than molded resin holds and chalky gym mats. Climbing with DRY ICE is your gateway to microadventure, where those who are jaded by routine gym workouts can reconnect with the feelings that brought them to climbing in the first place, and those who are new to climbing can get a taste of what lies ahead. For DRY ICErs, the phrase 'I'm bored' simply does not exist.
(Warning, unapologetic sales pitch ahead) Visit the DRY ICE STORE to start your microadventure today, and while your tooling your way to being a stronger. more confident climber in preparation for your macroadventures, perhaps you'll find your perfect tree house too.
Ben Carlson, President, Furnace Industries
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these DRY ICE reps from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
The historic crippling blizzard of 2013 could not stop the DRY ICE juggernaut! In fact, for once I guess our federal tax dollars are going to the right places because the I-95 corridor from NYC to New Bedford was actually quite casual after a central Connecticut 30+ inch snowpocolypse.
Any who, the fine managers at Carabiner's Indoor Climbing Gym were keen to get DRY ICE into their gym. And what an enormous facility! Easily the tallest gym I've ever been in. Almost 70ft tall. the routes here go on forever. You can get real strong real fast in a place like this, and although the gym was actually closed due to the snow, DRY ICE did not disappoint the small cadre of climbers the managers George and Todd had managed to assemble.
Carabiner's runs an indoor to outdoor program that DRY ICE fit directly into, preparing new indoor climbers for outdoor ice. It's with this kind of energetic, motivated, forward thinking management that indoor climbing will properly proceed.
Members at Carabiner's will be psyched to use DRY ICE on their walls! Cheers to managers Todd Isaksen and George Coto for their brilliance!
Ice Climbing gear has come so far, and so have our various attachment devices. When we used to climb with straight shafted tools, we put 1" webbing on the heads of the tools and twisted our wrists into them for security. When I started ice climbing I fabricated wrist leashes out of 1" black webbing into custom length leashes that consistently restricted blood flow to my freezing hands. Then it was this litany of products:
Charlet Moser Lock Down Leashes
Charlet Moser Ball and Post Leashes
BD Lick Downs
BD Ice Clippers (which I still think are pretty awesome)
And then, nothing. No leash. Leashless.
Climbing leashless opened up many doors for ice climbers to climb more like rock climbers. Body movement, footwork, and forearm pump management have all changed since leashes disappeared. In the Ice Climbing World Cup events for example, climbers were FORBIDDEN to use leashes simply because if/when they blew it during competition, officials didn't want the climbers to have sharp point flying all around the climbers mid flight. Better to let the tools fall clear of the climbers. Because of the leashelss movement and the world cup rule, mixed climbing has really taken off.
But that wasn't the end of it! Now you can have your ice tools tethered to you via tethers, or 'umbilicals'. These are a good idea simply because it might be a bad thing to drop a tool from pitch 6 of some grade 5 monster deep in the Ghost River Valley.
Tethering isn't a new idea. It goes back the late 70's early 80's when climbers would simply attached some webbing to their tools and went for it. But the ethic was such that tethers were looked upon as a weak man's crutch.
Now tethers are back in vogue, and there are a few excellent tethers on the market, and we at DRY ICE cannot recommend them enough. If fact, you ABSOLUTLEY MUST have tethers (homemade or otherwise) in order to toprope or lead climbing with DRY ICE Tools in a gym setting.
Here are the latest posh tethering devices on the market today:
Unavailable as of 2/8/2013. (Lame)
The Boa Leash is an extremely lightweight leash with simple tool connections and adjustment possibilities, we hence call it the king of minimalist design and comfort. The leash is delivered without carabiners which creates a negligible weight and allows the climber to use his or her preferred carabiners as explained in the instructions manual. A double loop allows to fine tune the length when connecting to the harness, giving the climber an excellent amount of freedom to adjust the leash for best result.
A lightweight swiveling tether system for leashless ice tools.
- Proprietary elastic webbing stretches for maximum reach and absorbs less water than nylon
- Steel mini-clip attaches to the tool’s spike or head
- Built-in swivel ensures tangle-free use
- Rated to 2 kN
- Makes it impossible to lose the ice axes
- Leaves hands free
- Long when required
- Compact when required
An elastic double sling system to avoid losing tools when climbing on rock or ice, solving the problem of modern climbing without a leash.
The Double Spring is attached to the harness by looping it through the tape ring over the harness itself.
The two ice axes are attached with 2 small carabiners to the holes on the spike (max 750kg).
Permits easy changeovers of hands and tools.
The two sections are so elastic that they don’t impede any movement and allow maximum arm extension when required.
Compact when required, long when required.
Attention: the double spring must never be used as a self belay for the climber or to belay a companion. Its strength is limited to 200kg.
The two small carabiners have a maximum resistance of 750kg and must never be used instead of normal carabiners when climbing or belaying.
The innovative X-Gyro™ lanyard system uses a patented swivel design that allows each attachment point (harness + left axe + right axe) to rotate completely independently from the others. This means no more tangles and no more twisting. The rewind elastic webbing cords stretch easily for swinging and contract back to their original length to keep them out of the way. Attachment to the axe can be done in two ways. For maximum security, use the loop of cord to girth-hitch the spike or handle of the axe. Or make it easy to attach and detach the axes with the Nano 23 carabiners provided. Available in two lengths to fit all climbers.
Oooooorrr, You could simply make them yourself with with simple cordage or bungee with knots, or using the instructions here: http://www.alpinedave.com/leashless_rig.htm
But as it turns out, for the money and time spent mucking around, it's easier just to buy a sweet pair.
There's a ton of info over at Cold Thistle on the subject. Blogger Dane has been doing this for a while and he's got tons of experience with all kinds of ice gear. Although rather opinionated (hey, it is his blog afterall), his reviews are complete and rounded.