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Alpine Draws vs Sport Draws for Ice Climbing


Original Post
Northeast Alpine Start · · Conway, New Hampshire · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 122

What do you use? I did a short informal poll and wrote an opinion piece on the subject, link below!

https://northeastalpinestart.com/2017/12/04/a-case-against-alpine-draws/

Dharma Bum · · Glen Haven, Co · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 585

I generally clip the draw to the rope first and then clip the screw.  I found that to be easier and quicker many years ago.  Do you risk dropping the draw attached to the rope?  Maybe, but I never have.

I carry 2 screamers and the rest quickdraws.  If the routes traverses or has some placements tucked away, I may carry a few alpine draws. Screamers go on the first screw, a stubby, or a less than ideal placement.  Are the screamers necessary?  Probably not, but I have them so I might as well use them.

Briggs Lazalde · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0

I like what u put together. Its somewhat obvious stuff and not much to be learned but yea on pretty linear routes sport draws will do. Going w petzl anges is getting a bit specific and also expensive. have a ton of them myself and love them but some long draws like the camp whatever they're called that were on sale do just as well. Ones with nano22s on bolt end and photons on other end. (Dog bones are longer than normal but I'm spacing on exact length)So at about 13$ a piece I can have twice as many and since there's little difference on performance, cost rules that one. If you were to get into the gram differences which I dunno exactly what they are, thatd only maybe make a difference ( probably not enough though) on long wandery alpine routes where you'd opt for alpine draws anyway. None the less, I like what you posted. Love lookn at and Talkin draws.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480

 I usually carry 6 draws, two alpine draws and one with a screamer. I might even carry a sling or two over my shoulder. I have a set of draws with Ange L and S biners. They work well but I mostly carry Camp Photon draws. 

Like Dharma said I carry screamers just cause.

abandon moderation · · Tahoe · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 118

I agree with your conclusion, though I usually carry two alpine draws for slinging stuff or if I have to tie off an ice screw.

In my opinion the main reason to not use alpine draws is that they often get frozen solid.

I also use double ropes and forego the screamers.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480
kendallt wrote:

or if I have to tie off an ice screw.

 Worth a read if you’re tying off screws. Better to carry stubbies.

http://willgadd.com/mail-bag-tied-off-screws/

Keatan · · AZ · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 50

Nice little article. I usually reach for the alpine draws first but don't really have a reason. I probably will start grabbing the quickdraws for pure ice routes more often now.

Doug Hutchinson · · Seattle, WA · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 105

I use 2 screamers and the rest quickdraws. Alpine draws making clipping that much harder and I rarely, if ever, have problems with rope drag on ice routes.

But (thread drift) when a partner shows up with Ange L or S biners on anything, I carry my own draws. I can hardly use those things in the summer without gloves and while ice climbing with any gloves, I really dislike dealing with their small opening and the single wire gate - seems to make something not that hard (removing and clipping a draw) super hard IMO. I go back and forth about whether to use my lightweight draws with BD Oz biners or use "normal" wiregates with larger gates and openings when ice climbing. When cruxing, all these little things matter. 

Paul Morrison · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 0

Sport draws. Long ones. Short 12cm dogbones might, at least in my fevered imagination, cause the rope to rotate the screw, and friction from this periodic rotation might prevent the screw placement from freezing solid.

jg fox · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 5

Drag

Rope drag is not as much of an issue when ice climbing for two reasons. First, rope running over ice/snow creates almost no friction unlike rock. Second, it is easy to arrange protection on a pure ice climb so that it runs almost straight from belay to belay. On most ice routes you almost never need to extend an alpine draw to mitigate friction. The average quick draw offers almost a foot of extension, giving you a 2 foot wide “corridor” of protection with zero increase in friction.

If he is suggesting you can merely place a screw wherever you want then he is instantly discredited from making recommendations on leading technique/kit.

Anyways, I used alpine draws and screamers back in my prime days; that is what I learned from my partner back east.  If you rack your alpine draw correctly it won't be "floppy" when you clip.  If you are going up a gully system and would use rock pro instead of screws, then the alpine draws would be even more useful.

Northeast Alpine Start · · Conway, New Hampshire · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 122
jg fox wrote:

If he is suggesting you can merely place a screw wherever you want then he is instantly discredited from making recommendations on leading technique/kit.

Anyways, I used alpine draws and screamers back in my prime days; that is what I learned from my partner back east.  If you rack your alpine draw correctly it won't be "floppy" when you clip.  If you are going up a gully system and would use rock pro instead of screws, then the alpine draws would be even more useful.

Hi Jg Fox, I probably could have worded that better. Essentially after climbing ice in New England for 17 years I've often looked down and noticed how darn straight our ropes run on "most" pure ice routes around here. This is certainly an opinion piece, not gospel, but I would suggest anyone who is leading ice this winter to look back down every pitch they lead and decide how many of their ice screws needed anything more than a quick draw. I think a lot will realize there are few places on pure ice routes where extension (more than a quick draw) is needed. YMMV

Kyle Tarry · · Portland, OR · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 241

Interesting to hear that people think alpine draws are significantly harder to clip than quickdraws.  I don't usually have much trouble, and I feel like ice climbing is controlled and methodical enough that an extra second to clip isn't a big deal (compared to frantic clipping from a tiny crimp on a sport climb).  Then again, I don't ice climb mega hard stuff.

I use a lot of quickdraws on straightforward ice climbs, but I definitely carry alpine draws, and use them very regularly on alpine, wandering, and mixed routes.  I think the difference between the two is pretty inconsequential compared to things like good sharp tools, climbing technique, placing screws in solid ice, etc.

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,800
Kyle Tarry wrote:

I use a lot of quickdraws on straightforward ice climbs, but I definitely carry alpine draws, and use them very regularly on alpine, wandering, and mixed routes.  I think the difference between the two is pretty inconsequential compared to things like good sharp tools, climbing technique, placing screws in solid ice, etc.

Hear hear!  The gear I'm placing gets a lot more attention than how I'm connecting to it. So I'll carry pretty much anything so long as I have at least 2 alpine draws - for small trees, screws off to the side or under overhangs/in holes, and so on.  There's always a few short things in there too; it's nice to clip shorter-rather-than-longer when things are getting serious.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480

 After reading the last few posts, something else to consider when discussing lack of extension or not would be the number of placements leading rock versus leading ice. There’s less need for Alpine draws since the spacing between protection on ice is much wider than rock. I might place five screws in 100 feet on grade 4 ice. I might place 12 places in 100 feet on rock. Although the screws aren’t perfectly plumb there’s so much space between them that extension is not necessary. 

 

Karl Henize · · Boulder, CO · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 643

I am surprised no one voted for a single carabiner clipped to both the screw and rope.  Has anyone tried using single large carabiners (e.g., CAMP Photon), rather than draws, for straightforward ice?  

By the way, I am fairly certain that modern ice screws do not need to "freeze-in-place", in order to hold a fall.  I do not believe that periodic screw rotation caused by the rope should be a concern.  However, screws that are heated by solar radiation and melt the ice around the threads is a definite concern.  This melting is not significantly affected by the attachment to the rope. 

Northeast Alpine Start · · Conway, New Hampshire · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 122
Bill Kirby wrote:

 After reading the last few posts, something else to consider when discussing lack of extension or not would be the number of placements leading rock versus leading ice. There’s less need for Alpine draws since the spacing between protection on ice is much wider than rock. I might place five screws in 100 feet on grade 4 ice. I might place 12 places in 100 feet on rock. Although the screws aren’t perfectly plumb there’s so much space between them that extension is not necessary. 

 

Good point Bill

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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