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Breakaway tether-ice tool connections


Original Post
Karl Henize · · Bellingham, WA · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 643

I am looking for advice on creating breakaway tether connections to my ice tools, for mixed climbing.I like to attach tethers to my tools on committing multi-pitch mixed climbs, where I do not want to drop a tool.  I also want to avoid breaking the pommel (Petzl Ergonomic) or having sharp pointy things slingshot towards me, during an unexpected tether fall.  


Source: https://www.thealpinestart.com/2019/01/22/tech-tip-impact-forces-during-a-fall/ 


Source: https://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en_US/qc-lab-how-strong-is-the-spinner-leash/qc-lab-how-strong-is-the-spinner-leash.html 

Ideally, it should be something low profile that doesn't interfere with gripping or swinging the tool.  Photo below of what appears to be a low-profile connection, with minimal interference.  
Source: https://www.tomlivingstone.com/climbing-blog-1/2018/3/22/petzl-ergonomic-review 

Are there any particular combinations of cord and knots that are strong enough to hold a dropped tool, but will reliably break during a tether fall (at lower loads than the Nomic/Ergonomic pommel)?  

Note: I use both the black diamond spinner leash and blue ice boa leash, for tethers.  
Ian F · · Pennsylvania · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 1,856

Your best bet is probably high strength velcro. Just experiment to find the size needed.

On second thought, might not be as functional in ice climbing temps.

t.farrell · · New York, NY · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 60

You could probably make something out of shock cord and a cord lock. Especially with the real skinny stuff, it would probably hold the tool if it fell but release under body weight. 

Zac St. Jules · · New Hampshire · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 1,133
t.farrell wrote: You could probably make something out of shock cord and a cord lock. Especially with the real skinny stuff, it would probably hold the tool if it fell but release under body weight. 

This is what Ive done ^ ... Just use skinny shock cord. No way that shit will hold your weight but would for sure hold the tool. 

Jason4Too · · Bellingham, Washington · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 0

You can use zip ties and vary either the size of the zip tie or the number of zip ties to get the breaking force you want.  

Tanner Clagett · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 0

You might also look at the magnets that are used on things like fly fishing nets. They break away with a tug when you need to reach with your net, but otherwise keep the net close by your side. 

Jeff Deutsch · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2007 · Points: 0
Zac St. Jules wrote:

This is what Ive done ^ ... Just use skinny shock cord. No way that shit will hold your weight but would for sure hold the tool. 

+2 on the skinny shock cord. Tie a small loop. It will break under body weight.

Bogdan P · · Hanover, NH · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 426

Skiers who use leashes instead of brakes face the same problem. Leashes can have some advantages over brakes, but you don't want to be dragged into an avalanche by skis that won't fully release either. Hence you have breakaway ski leashes that are meant to snap under sufficient weight in the event of an avalanche. Here's an example:

https://skimo.co/bnd-ski-leashes

The leash itself is not likely what you want, but you may be able to take the fuse link (the plastic G shaped thing) from the leash kit and integrate that into your ice axe leash system.

I've tried the zip tie trick mentioned by Jason4Too above for my skis but I've found that the specs advertised for zip tie breaking strength are often highly inaccurate, especially in the cold, and I've had them break on me for seemingly no reason at all. I've heard that there is variability in zip tie quality by brand/source, so it's possible you could get higher end zip ties that would be more reliable, but the fuse links are actually made for your kind of use case and are probably more trustworthy.

t.farrell · · New York, NY · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 60

If you don’t want a DIY solution, Milwaukee makes a tool lanyard rated at 10 pounds (48-22-8811). Supposedly a 2:1 safety factor, so it should definitely hold the tool but break in a serious fall. 

Bogdan P · · Hanover, NH · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 426

Also, surprising number of familiar faces here...

Magnifique · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0
Zac St. Jules wrote:

This is what Ive done ^ ... Just use skinny shock cord. No way that shit will hold your weight but would for sure hold the tool. 

Dont listen to this guy he's a punter 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Ice Climbing
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