/ Ice Ace Leashes - Yes or No? (spring leashes)

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StevenF 29 Nov 2019

Hi folks,

I'm just wondering what the pro's and con's are for using the "new" spring style leashes when climbing with two axes. Obviously having them means your a lot less likely to loose an axe if you drop it, but then if you do have a fall, the axe is coming with you, and who knows where it's going to end up. 

Do you climb with or without them? and why?  

Thank you,

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ColdWill 29 Nov 2019
In reply to StevenF:

Fell off once with the axes placed high above me whilst I was using my hand to mantle. The tether snapped (pulled the stitching through) but not before launching my axe down the couloir like a tomahawk past my belayers head at the belay. He was looking down so didn't even notice. Retrieved the axe from a snow bank at the bottom.

Climb without them now.

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Exile 29 Nov 2019
In reply to StevenF:

With. Knocked an axe out of a placement a few times and didn't loose it.

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Mark Bull 29 Nov 2019
In reply to StevenF:

With. The consequences of a dropped tool could be pretty serious. If you do fall off, being hit by a stray tool is not likely to be the worst of your problems: it’s not like rock climbing where falls can be taken relatively safely, except perhaps on higher grade mixed ground. 

You do however sometimes need to take a bit of care not to get leashes tangled when placing and clipping gear. 

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angry pirate 29 Nov 2019
In reply to StevenF:

I climb with them and find them a revelation compared to old wrist loops.

Compared to leashless, I wouldn't know as I've never tried without though a mate took a fall in Norway and ended up hanging off one of his tools from the leash (Grivel iirc) so I'm sticking with for the time being. I like the (illusory) security they give me in the event a foot pops.

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Michael Gordon 29 Nov 2019
In reply to StevenF:

Definitely with. Perhaps less necessary on ice when you can stick them in anywhere when placing a screw, but on mixed it's far too easy to drop an axe. Besides, I've come off before and been caught by my lanyards, avoiding a nasty fall in the process.

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Nathan Adam 29 Nov 2019
In reply to StevenF:

Yes, they can be a pain in the arse at times but not as much as dropping a tool from the top pitch of the route would be. More of an annoyance when seconding for getting tangled, especially on half ropes.

To be honest I use them as a reminder to take my tools with me when I'm using my hands as well, there's been a fair number of times I've been chimney-ing or using my hands in a crack and realised I've left my tool in a placement below. Easy enough to just pull it up with the lanyards rather than having to move down to get hold of it again. 

Post edited at 19:20
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Presley Whippet 29 Nov 2019
In reply to StevenF:

With and without, I make the call due to what I am climbing. Good ice, I will often go without. Seconding mixed, I will almost always use them. You are most likely to lose a tool whilst writhing gear out. Leading mixed, they can create as many problems as they solve getting tangled in ropes and gear, clipping themselves into runners etc. 

There is not a simple yes or no answer I am afraid. 

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steveb2006 29 Nov 2019
In reply to StevenF:

Definitly with - even if you think they are placed in good ice when you place or remove a screw it could be come out of inadvertently knocked sideways

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Basemetal 29 Nov 2019
In reply to StevenF:

Very tricky when an unlikely event happens early on in our experience with something new as it can colour our perception of the real distribution of risks. I'd expect your "catapulted tomahawk" to be a rarer event than a dropped axe, but either could be a significant hazard to anyone below.

Lanyards mitigate most dropped tools and maybe even some minor slips on some kinds of ground. The bigger increased risk might be if you lose control of your tools AND fall, but leashes leave you in the same place as lanyards. so DON'T FALL...

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AdrianC 29 Nov 2019
In reply to StevenF:

Like most  things in the mountains - it depends.

If the risks associated with dropping a tool (e.g. multi-pitch route) are significant or the nature of the climbing means a dropped tool is more likely (e.g. mixed) then I use them.

But I've seen someone take a small fall while top-roping on ice, let go of a tool placed above him and have it pull out when the elastic reached its limit.  The newly-sharpened axe was then not only accelerating towards him under gravity but with the added force of the elastic.  And, of course, it couldn't miss.  The gash in the side of his neck was quite deep but luckily missed everything important but that was dumb luck - it could clearly have been very nasty.

So if the risks around dropping a tool aren't great and the likelihood is lower (e.g. single-pitch ice, or seconding) then I leave them off.

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David Myatt 29 Nov 2019
In reply to StevenF:

With. I don’t want to lose my tools.

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DaveHK 29 Nov 2019
In reply to Presley Whippet:

> Leading mixed, they can create as many problems as they solve getting tangled in ropes and gear, clipping themselves into runners etc. 

I rarely find that to be an issue and I think the peace of mind they give to be well worth any minor tangles.

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HeMa 29 Nov 2019
In reply to StevenF:

Multibitch. Pretty much always. 
 

Singlepitch with good gear. Nah. 
 

singlepitch with not good gear or soloing. Yah.

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PaulW 29 Nov 2019
In reply to StevenF:

With for me. I like being able to clip a belay and just drop my tools to dangle by my feet without worry while I start taking the rope in

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Presley Whippet 29 Nov 2019
In reply to HeMa:

> Multibitch. Pretty much always. 

Can we all just pause for a moment and celebrate that typo. 

Fat fingers rule. 

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ColdWill 29 Nov 2019
In reply to Presley Whippet:

Yeah, I like multibitching with leashes as much as the next guy and use them all the time when I'm in Cham tbh.

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StevenF 30 Nov 2019

Thank you everyone for your replies - very helpful as always! The general consensus is YES if doing a multi-pitch route. Cheers! 

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tingle 01 Dec 2019
In reply to ColdWill:

I had a similar experience but luckily my skinny self didnt snap the leash and it took the brunt of the fall. Which was good because my belay was in a bucket seat.

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olddirtydoggy 01 Dec 2019
In reply to StevenF:

For me I've got enough to think about just trying to get up a route without falling. Leashes for me remove the worry of losing an axe.  I've never got my leashes caught up in the gear placements.

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nufkin 01 Dec 2019
In reply to StevenF:

I always carry the lanyards attached to the harness, but wrapped out of the way on ground I'm happy I won't drop the tools going up - then I can quickly attach if things get gnarly, or if I'm at a belay where I can't easily place the tools somewhere they won't risk getting snagged on a rope. 
I've fallen on a lanyard and it held. Wouldn't want to make a habit of it though

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neilwiltshire 04 Dec 2019
In reply to StevenF:

When I started out I never used spring leashes. Then I dropped an axe toward the top of the second pitch of the first grade 4 I ever did and I immediately bought spring leashes and haven't looked back. Of course I haven't dropped an axe since!

They do take a little management but well worth it for the piece of mind, and if I ever drop an axe again I won't have to suffer the sheer panic of that day.

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