/ Ice Ace Leashes - Yes or No? (spring leashes)
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?
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.
With. Knocked an axe out of a placement a few times and didn't loose it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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...
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.
With. I don’t want to lose my tools.
> 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.
Multibitch. Pretty much always.
Singlepitch with good gear. Nah.
singlepitch with not good gear or soloing. Yah.
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
> Multibitch. Pretty much always.
Can we all just pause for a moment and celebrate that typo.
Fat fingers rule.
Yeah, I like multibitching with leashes as much as the next guy and use them all the time when I'm in Cham tbh.
Thank you everyone for your replies - very helpful as always! The general consensus is YES if doing a multi-pitch route. Cheers!
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.
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.
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
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.
Having been at the receiving end of two axes tumbling down Point Five, *with*.
With. Assume that falling on an ice route is going to end in injury - as a base case, the moment your crampon-shod foot hits the ice it will stop, while the rest of you keeps on moving until the rope catches you and so a lower-limb injury is likely.
Assume that dropping an ice axe is likely to end in a fall that is going to end in injury.
When on a toprope on ice, clip the leashes to your rope (the one going up from your harness) instead of to your harness itself. If you fall, the axes don't get 'pinged' down at you.
I think this has been discussed before. The answer is it depends. On easy ground I tend to climb without. However on a big multipitch route eg in the Alps I might climb with even on easy ground. On harder ground, with, even though they can be a pain if you start swapping hands abs crossing through. The falling off bit is not a big consideration. Don’t fall off in winter!
Lots of responses about not needing them on single pitch routes - how many of these do people climb? No many of them in the Scottish hills, or have I missed them all?
With. A 100%. Lost tools before, I don't see the point of not using them on technical terrain. I have a set that's fully rated (as far as the rating of the handle) in case I'm leading something spicy with no pro
Without. They’re a massive pain in the arse. Either my tools are in a good placement or in my hand, so I’m not likely to drop one. I would consider them on some huge north face where a dropped axe would be a disaster, but the northern corries 40m from the ground? Nahh!
Contrary to the consensus - only on Alpine routes where a dropped tool would be a safety issue. Virtually no one uses them here in the Canadian Rockies, too much additional faffage.
I bought Spring leashes and always use them (though I only second in winter), after witnessing my guide lose an axe while taking me and another client up Observatory Ridge. I was well impressed that he finished the route with a single axe, though he perhaps had to stop and think harder about the best way to get us to the top and it did take us a bit longer to finish. I always wondered whether he used leashes after that.
With - for fear of dropping a tool.
> Lots of responses about not needing them on single pitch routes - how many of these do people climb? No many of them in the Scottish hills, or have I missed them all?
Eilde Canyon may be the best single pitch venue? Or there's Bucket Buttress on Quinag but I wouldn't want to drop a tool there! But I agree, there's very little in Scotland.
> Eilde Canyon may be the best single pitch venue? Or there's Bucket Buttress on Quinag but I wouldn't want to drop a tool there! But I agree, there's very little in Scotland.
Will give you Eilde Canyon, cant comment on Bucket Buttress as haven't been there.
I'll just stick to lanyards.
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