Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Weekend climbing and Simond Tornado ice scews: a quick review

The writer placing one of Toni's new Tornado screws. Thanks to Nikko for the pic.

I popped out for a couple hours around Sunday lunchtime for some ice with Big Toni, Samu and Nikko. We've been going a bit to what optimistically we've been calling "Airport Crag" this winter. In reality it's a long 25 mtr high road cutting at the south end of Helsinki airport runway. Although the road isn't too busy you do have rather low altitude Airbuses and Boeings passing over heard regularly making it not the most peaceful of spots. We've been climbing there figuring it's not doing anyone any harm but not really knowing what the legal situation was likely to be, particularly as we have been belaying of the airport fence posts! Now I'm pretty certain that no one really cares as cops have cruised past a few times, once even stopping to watch awhile, but haven't even got out to come and chat so they really don't seem bothered.

Nikko stylin' up the the best line at airport crag.

Big Toni on the Corner Route

The least aesthetically pleasing ice climbing in Finland? Convenient for the bus though.

Big Toni had got (he never seems to 'buy', but rather swaps labour for ice gear) some of the new Simond Tornado ice screws. Having left half my own screws unsharpened since some punters screwed them into rock last weekend (you know who you are!), I borrowed some of them to try. I've only placed a couple, and taken out another three or four whilst seconding, but these are my brief first impressions. So first the good bits. The teeth are excellent, mega sharp so getting the screw to bite with the first couple of turns felt easy. For over a decade Black Diamond screws have been the gold standard for screw design and it seems that all the other manufacturers have just decided that they need to make screw bodies that equal those of BD, and these Simond ones seems to be. The hanger is good for holding, turning and clipping. It looks very much like the hangers on the old Charlet Moser Lasers, but with the addition of the a flip out handle not dissimilar to those on Grivel 360s. The hanger will take two krabs if you are using them for belays. The flip out wire handle makes cranking them in fast and easy - although as with the 360s the wire has a certain amount of give in it that always makes you think you might bend it when giving it that last turn. I think I managed to bend the wire handle on one of Toni's 360s a few years back, trying to get it out seconding after it has frozen in, so it is possible even for relative weeds like myself.

Now the not so good bit - racking them. Superficially the hanger design looks neat and conventional in comparison to the famously hard to rack Grivel 360s. But the circular insert (see photo above) that the wire flip-out handle revolves around makes the hanger of the screw really quite wide. As you can see in the picture above, Toni uses one of Simond double krab ice screw racks and could fit about three screws on each of the krabs, but with my DIY version of the same I could only manage two without it becoming a real fight to get the screws of the rack. By way of comparison, I can easily carry eight BD scews on the same rack - i.e. four on each krab. For the little routes we were climbing on Sunday having four screws is just fine, but a full multipitch rack of say, 12 Tornado screws would be tricky to carry on those type of ice screw racks.

So overall - great screws for placing, possibly better than the current design of BD ones (although I've seen pictures of the up-dated BD hanger design for next season!) due to the flip out handle, but tricky to rack particularly if you have a lot of them.

1 comment:

Peter said...

Excellent ice climbing pictures, particularly the one showing climbing amongst the trees.