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What ice screws to buy for easier alpinism?

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 Chaildn 19 Feb 2020

Hi. My partner and I are giving easier alpine routes a try. What ice screws should we buy (we've only borrowed previously - always BDs or some description I believe)?. I imagine we'll initially only be using them for protecting shorter sections of ice we might encounter.

It seems like 16/19cms would be most useful, and Petzl Laser Speed/Laser Speed Lights are the most popular newer model currently?

Any advice appreciated. Cheers!

 tjdodd 19 Feb 2020
In reply to Chaildn:

What time of year are you thinking of?  None of the easier summer alpine climbing I have done needed ice screws.  It was either rock protection or protection whilst moving together using the rope threaded around rock.

If you don't need them at all it will save some money.

 Jabbott 19 Feb 2020
In reply to tjdodd:

They can be pretty handy in the event of needing to perform a crevasse rescue! 


 melocoton 19 Feb 2020
In reply to Jabbott:

> They can be pretty handy in the event of needing to perform a crevasse rescue! 

Now that raises an interesting question, I’ve always carried screws on glaciers “because you do”. But in reality you’re not going to fall into a crevasse on a dry glacier because you can see them whereas on a wet glacier where the crevasses are hidden what’s the chances of being able to place a screw when the ice is buried beneath goodness knows what depth of snow, or more likely slush at the time of day when a snow bridge is most likely to collapse?

A buried axe seems a much more likely anchor to use in the event of a crevasse rescue. That said, I guess I’ll still always carry a screw just in case.

 Mr Fuller 19 Feb 2020
In reply to Chaildn:

For easier alpinism you only need screws for crevasse rescue, as said above, so a lightweight one seems wise. If I were buying a screw for this purpose I'd get one of the alu shaft and steel tip variety but considering that if I want to buy more screws for future steeper routes it's worth getting ones that rack well and feel nice, etc..

 AdrianC 19 Feb 2020
In reply to melocoton:

Yes.  I'm always baffled by this idea that you'll have a good chance of an ice screw anchor for crevasse rescue.  You're way more likely to end up in a slot where it's snow-covered so your mate needs to be good at snow anchors.

Carrying one so that, if you're the one who fell in the crevasse, you can potentially put it in the wall and stop yourself falling further seems like the most likely use in a crevasse fall situation.  Of course that assumes that you're able to move well enough to place it.

To the OP - if you're going to buy screws, I'd get the BD turbo express.  They're a very well tried and tested design and for overall useabilty versus cost, I think they're hard to beat.

In reply to AdrianC:

Simone Moro recently fell in a crevasse on Gasherbrum and credits much of his safety to being able to plug a screw into the wall

 Jasonic 19 Feb 2020
In reply to Chaildn:

Speed lights look good- 17cm- longer possibly better for abalakovs but more of a hassle to carry.


 roym 19 Feb 2020
In reply to Chaildn:

Haven't used screws in summer in the Alps but just got back from a week in France. Petzl Laser Speeds are amazing! Bite much easier than the Black Diamond Turbo Expresses

 mcawle 20 Feb 2020
In reply to Chaildn:

The advice I had from a British Mountain Guide whom I hired for a few days alpine training (2017) was that 1x long (20cm+) and 1x medium (16-17cm) screws are good for each member of the party. This also matches recommendation in the book Alpine Mountaineering, by Bruce Goodlad (also a BMG).

Reasons given were:

1. securing yourself in and potentially aiding yourself out of a crevasse if you slot. Obviously has a few assumptions about being conscious, being able to move and reach the side, etc.

2. potentially still useful as a hauling anchor if you're not the one who slots, i.e. thin or really soft snow covering where you could potentially dig to ice, although buried axe remains the more likely option.

3. protecting steeper icy sections. There are a few routes I'm aware of in the PDish range that I've heard can get icy and steep enough to be worth protecting, e.g. crossing the Passo del Naso from Quintino Sella to Refugio Gnifetti in Monte Rosa, and SE ridge of Alphubel, where screws give you an option for at least running anchors. Obviously you'd ideally then have a corresponding number of quickdraws too in that case although could I guess jury rig some out of long slings tripled up and spare krabs.

Also the long screws give you the option of v-threads if you end up descending steeper iced slopes although again I haven't run into a need for that yet.

So I've always carried two screws, though haven't needed them in anger yet. The reasons given to me seem sound so I'll continue to carry them. In terms of what screws my view is that it probably doesn't really matter, though mine have handles on them for ease of winding them in and out.

Post edited at 04:08
 Chaildn 20 Feb 2020

Many thanks for all the suggestions and info!

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