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What's a good ice screw rack?

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What's a good ice screw rack?

Postby KyleS » Tue Oct 29, 2013 4:31 pm

I started ice climbing last year and I'm about to purchase my first set of ice screws. I'm hoping for some recommendations on lengths. I can afford about ten of them thanks to a very generous BD proform, and I'm pretty sold on the Express screws, so I really only want suggestions on lengths. They come in 10cm, 13cm, 16cm, 19cm, and 22cm.

Should I get a few long ones for anchors and then the rest short for intermediary? Should I get two of each so I can accommodate any thickness of ice? Some say the short ones are pretty bombproof anyway and the long ones are kinda overkill... Should I get all medium to short so I don't end up with screws too long for the ice thickness?

Thanks in advance.

PS - I live in the San Juans and I'm much more likely to be hacking up Ouray or Lake City than your favorite Front Range spot.

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Re: What's a good ice screw rack?

Postby Dave B » Tue Oct 29, 2013 5:01 pm

I really only started leading last year, so take that into consideration. Plus I don't feel that my screw rack is quite yet complete and typically combine my screws with my partners for routes.

Regardless, this is what I have:

10 cm (stubby) x 2
13 cm x 4
16 cm x 2
22 cm x 2

From what I've read it's the amount of thread that gives a screw its holding power. If you hold a 13 cm and 16 cm next to each other you'll notice they both have the same amount of thread, the 16 just has a longer section of tube without threads. In other words, 13's are just as good as the 16's but lighter/smaller so I feel the bulk of your rack should be comprised of them.

The 22's were the first screws I bought (used from MP) and I really only recommend carrying one for V-threads. They are pretty bomber in thick ice but require a substantial amount of effort to place and remove and I've found myself getting pumped just trying to place them.

The 10cm is a RMNP staple as many routes require them, Ouray/LC/San Juan ice may be different than that. It might not hurt to enquirer with local climbers as to how useful they'd be for you.

Don't forget screamers and maybe even a couple specters.

Good luck with leading. I've found I like ice climbing so much better on lead as you're not constantly having to swing to avoid the rope. The hardest part is to constantly remind yourself to stop over-gripping your tools.

ETA - the total number of screws you'll need will ultimately depend on which routes you want to do, how long they are and what the anchor needs will be. For example, you can probably climb just about anything at the ice park with 6 screws since you can use trees for anchors. Longer, multi-pitch routes will require 10 at a bare minimum (2 screws x 2 anchors each plus 6 for the pitch itself) but you'd probably want several more.
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Re: What's a good ice screw rack?

Postby KyleS » Tue Oct 29, 2013 5:58 pm

Thanks for the suggestions, Dave!
Some additional thoughts:

Dave B wrote:From what I've read it's the amount of thread that gives a screw its holding power. If you hold a 13 cm and 16 cm next to each other you'll notice they both have the same amount of thread, the 16 just has a longer section of tube without threads.
The same could be said for the 19 vs the 22. Would you buy 19s if you had it to do over? Or would you just use the 13s for anchors instead of buying longer ones specifically for anchors?

Dave B wrote:The 22's were the first screws I bought (used from MP) and I really only recommend carrying one for V-threads.
Do you think a 19cm hole is comparable to a 22cm hole for V-threads? Obviously, the deeper the better, and it's always going to depend on the ice you're drilling into, but at what point does the added depth stop producing added strength?

Dave B wrote:13's are just as good as the 16's but lighter/smaller so I feel the bulk of your rack should be comprised of them
That's kind of what I was thinking. I've always heard, "Use the longest screw that the ice will take.", but you certainly don't want to get up there to find that your 16s won't work on the 15cm thick ice. In that same thought, though, what about buying mostly 10s? How much added safety is there in a 13 vs a 10? It would suck to be limited in which routes I can climb because I bought mostly 13s.

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Re: What's a good ice screw rack?

Postby martinleroux » Tue Oct 29, 2013 6:00 pm

Dave B wrote:13's are just as good as the 16's but lighter/smaller so I feel the bulk of your rack should be comprised of them.


Ice-screws are only as good as the ice they're placed in. The problem with shorter screws is that outer ice layers are often pocketed/aerated/chandeliered. A short screw may not penetrate far enough to reach good ice further down.

If you're just getting started I'd suggest that most of your screws should be 16's and 19's, with maybe a couple of 13's. You'll hardly ever need a 10cm screw on beginner/intermediate climbs, at least not in San Juans (and if you really need one you can always place a longer screw and tie it off). The weight difference is only 0.4oz per 3cm difference in length. You'd probably be okay without a 22cm, a 19cm will almost always be fine for an Abalakov.

You shouldn't need anything exotic like a screamer or a Specter on a beginner/intermediate climb.

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Re: What's a good ice screw rack?

Postby JohnP FTC » Tue Oct 29, 2013 6:18 pm

GUMBIES! The lot of you! (Not martinleroux, I don't know you.)

And for the record, I was familiar with the term before the Lincoln ice thread, so there.

Yes, I have been drinking.

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If you wish to make an apple pie truly from scratch, you must first invent the universe. -Carl Sagan

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Re: What's a good ice screw rack?

Postby TomPierce » Tue Oct 29, 2013 6:45 pm

Kyle: The suggestions above all make sense to me (I've been ice climbing for a while but it's not my primary interest, ie I'm no expert). There's some good stuff out there on ice screw placement that's IMO counterintuitive, eg the relationship of screw angle vs. the strength of the placement. You might already know that but if not probably worth a look.

The only other thing I'll toss in is that, as Martin states, surface ice can occasionally be junky. If you ever decide to get into mountaineering I think a couple of 22's are worth the investment, glacial ice often isn't very good and you might need them for a Z pulley set-up, etc. Just an idea.

Good luck on the ice, be safe!
-Tom

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Re: What's a good ice screw rack?

Postby Dave B » Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:03 am

JohnP FTC wrote:Yes, I have been drinking.


Ha! John, that was obvious simply by the fact that you posted something on 14ers.

Kyle, definitely listen to Martin and Tom above, their experience far eclipses mine. I do however, somewhat disagree with calling screamers "exotic," I think they offer a substantial amount of "mental" protection (and real protection too especially in marginal ice) and don't really cost all that much. Also, with regards to tying off shorter screws, I think pumped and learning beginners may bottom out (i.e. almost destroy) screws if they are too long for the ice and end up hitting the rock underneath (I've done it).

I think it really comes down to you, the best idea might be to lead a couple routes on a friends set of screws and see what sizes you feel comfortable placing and climbing above. Also, as Martin mentioned above, the quality of the ice is a strong determinant of what to carry. Spring-time hero-ice can almost be safely climbed with a rack of stubbies, early season/brittle ice will need longer screws. Here is Dane's opinion on the matter and here is a thread on MP with lots of good opinions as well.

With regards to your other questions, I suggest watching these videos that Arc'terx put out with Roger Strong. The one showing how little ice is actually need to hold a v-thread is pretty interesting as is the need to place screws at a downward angle to maximize their holding strength (I think this is what Tom was referring to above).


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Re: What's a good ice screw rack?

Postby gb » Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:29 am

Another interesting article on placements, re-using bore holes, etc: http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=4315

OP, I'm always looking for another partner and Lake City (and Gunnison) climbs aren't far for me. Sorry, no advice for your rack from me, I'm definitely a beginner.

Re: What's a good ice screw rack?

Postby KyleS » Wed Oct 30, 2013 11:11 am

JohnP FTC wrote:GUMBIES! I was familiar with the term before the Lincoln ice thread, so there.
Familiar with the term? You're the INSPIRATION for the term! :lol:

Back on topic:
martinleroux wrote:The problem with shorter screws is that outer ice layers are often pocketed/aerated/chandeliered. A short screw may not penetrate far enough to reach good ice further down.
True, but hopefully you can clean the crappy ice off before placing the screw. Regardless, you've made a good argument for carrying a mix rather than all 13s.

TomPierce wrote:a couple of 22's are worth the investment, glacial ice often isn't very good and you might need them
That's pretty much all I used this "summer" on the New Zealand glaciers, but I felt like even then it was overkill. A couple smacks with the ice tool and the mank falls away leaving beautiful blue plastic. Plus, not living near any glaciers, I think I'll wait to buy any 22s.

Dave B wrote:I think pumped and learning beginners may bottom out (i.e. almost destroy) screws if they are too long for the ice and end up hitting the rock underneath
This is what concerns me more than anything. Drilling 22s into bottomless glacier ice is great, but I don't want to end up tying off all of my screws, or worse destroying them, because I bought huge ones.

Dave B wrote: the best idea might be to lead a couple routes on a friends set of screws and see what sizes you feel comfortable placing and climbing above
That'd be ideal, but I have to submit this proform by the end of the month (tomorrow).

Dave B wrote:I suggest watching these videos
I was aware of the downward angle placement. This is pretty intuitive for me. Still a cool video.
As for the v-thread - Wow! I've always felt like those things were bomber, but that's really impressive. It definitely reinforces my decision to get 19s.

Another note on v-threads:
I was told by some pros down-under that v-threads are more sturdy if you put the two holes vertically instead of next to each other horizontally. Not only is this corroborated by Roger's comment about ice fracturing horizontally, but it also allows for a much more acute angle in your cordelette. After hearing that, now it's the only way I do it. Has anyone else heard this tidbit?

gb wrote:I'm always looking for another partner
Me too. Let's plan something.

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Re: What's a good ice screw rack?

Postby gb » Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:00 pm

KyleS wrote:Another note on v-threads:
I was told by some pros down-under that v-threads are more sturdy if you put the two holes vertically instead of next to each other horizontally. Not only is this corroborated by Roger's comment about ice fracturing horizontally, but it also allows for a much more acute angle in your cordelette. After hearing that, now it's the only way I do it. Has anyone else heard this tidbit?


Did you click on that link I shared? Lots of discussion about this, it's worth the click.

Re: What's a good ice screw rack?

Postby KyleS » Wed Oct 30, 2013 2:04 pm

gb wrote:Did you click on that link I shared? Lots of discussion about this, it's worth the click.
Didn't have a chance to read it before I responded... The re-bore part is interesting enough by itself but check it out, the vertical v-thread even has a name - the Anderson Thread. I would like to discuss this further, but perhaps we should start a new forum topic: The Anderson Thread thread...

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Re: What's a good ice screw rack?

Postby martinleroux » Wed Oct 30, 2013 2:30 pm

KyleS wrote:I was told by some pros down-under that v-threads are more sturdy if you put the two holes vertically instead of next to each other horizontally. Not only is this corroborated by Roger's comment about ice fracturing horizontally, but it also allows for a much more acute angle in your cordelette. After hearing that, now it's the only way I do it. Has anyone else heard this tidbit?


Here's a discussion on that topic: http://www.mountainproject.com/v/abalakov-horizontal-v-versus-anderson-vertical-v-threads/107944148#a_107944507

Bear in mind that in none of the studies did an Abalakov fail at less than 5kN, regardless of horizontal or vertical orientation. That's about five times greater than the load in a typical rappel. So in practice I can't see that orientation makes much difference. I'd be more concerned with finding the best quality ice in which to construct a thread and maximizing the cross-sectional area between anchor holes.

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