Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Farley Ice

This winter was cold. Cold is good for ice formation at south-facing climbing areas like Farley. September will mark the start of my fourth year in the Pioneer Valley, so it was about time that I check out the ice at one of our local crags.

There isn't a ton of ice at Farley, but nearly every route has a bit of engaging climbing. Over the course of three days this season I climbed several lines there. I'm excited for the next cold winter so I can explore there more.

Here are some photos from this winter. It's only taken me a month and a half to post them.

Andy Neuman climbing an awesome M6+ pitch on the left side of the main

The iced up gully right of the Green Mile is a good WI4

Andy found this gem on the right end of the lower tier.
We did an M5 rock second pitch too.

Dolci, in the chimney at the start of a route left of
 Barn Door Crack

Dolci following Brown Spot (name?) on the upper tier

Screaming and Kicking Until the End

This winter has been the gift that keeps on giving. I was out a few days ago in the Catskills and was pleasantly surprised to find that the rain early last week did very little to damage the ice. There's still a ton of ice to climb there, and many of the ravines are really fat.

If you're still climbing ice this season definitely use caution on steeper sections of climbing. While climbing Buttermilk Falls the other day I experienced stress cracking on every single pitch. The constant freeze-thaw cycle, without the addition of new moisture, has left many climbs with dry, brittle ice. Steep, unsupported pillars or free-hangers are probably out of the question. Otherwise, being able to enjoy winter this late in the season is amazing.

Here are a few recent photos of days out in the Catskills.

Alan Kline on Purgatory, 3/10/14

Slavo on the final pitch of Buttermilk Falls, 3/16/14

Monday, March 3, 2014

Broken Black Diamond Stainless Crampons

This isn't a new issue, or a surprise for folks that have kept up with the stainless Black Diamond crampon discussion. Two different friends have sent me pictures over the past two weeks. Each of them was using different BD crampons, but both of them had broken crampon forefoot pieces. Another friend broke a center bar after only two days of use. He's been using the old chromoly center bars ever since.

If you are using BD crampons make sure you are checking high stress areas for small fractures. You might be able to catch the break before it becomes a failure while you are leading.

It's pretty clear that BD's design or construction is flawed. I've hung on to an old pair of Sabretooths, and they are far more durable than any of the new BD stainless crampons I have. They also fit my big feet better than the newer, smaller crampons (actually, if anyone has old Sabretooths in good shape I'd be willing to buy them!).

The BD stainless crampons are really nice, but the "stainless" spiel seems like marketing hype. I've had a few pairs now, and they seem much less durable than chromoly crampons. Between shorter frontpoints, a smaller footprint under foot, and the use of stainless BD must be saving a bundle of money in materials. I would like to see them go back to chromoly personally.

Googling "broken black diamond stainless crampons" yields a pretty large amount of information about broken crampons. It's worth a look if you have the time. Climb safe out there, and remember, gear doesn't last forever. Check your kit routinely.

Rick Kraft's Stingers. 1 yr old, Rick is a big guy, this
is to be expected.

Erik Eisele's Sabretooths. A few seasons old. Erik is
a smaller guy, who's light on his feet - not the person
you'd expect to break gear.