As per usual links are floating around the Winter Climbing forums saying that this year is going to be the coldest winter on record, just like they've said every year around this time, that said this year it feels different, in fact the Lakes last week and Scotland seem to be coming in condition earlier than they have been in a while.
With that in mind, it seems appropriate to look at the options for Ice Screws on the market, specifically my current favourite the Petzl - Laser Speed Light.
Ice Screws are a difficult investment to make living in the UK, Winter ice is at best sporadic and if you're up in Scotland you're more likely to be place Torque nuts and rock gear than long screws. In recent years the go-to option has been the Black Diamond Express screws which are some of the best value on the market and some of the best performing, razor sharp teeth and easy to use, integrated cranks. There are other options around, the reverse threaded Grivels with their extra long handles etc and a variety of continental models with integrated quickdraws that I've only found more hassle than using a caritool for screws and separate quickdraws. Ultimately though most people have stuck with Black Diamond Express screws.
The new school screw of choice however has to be the Petzl - Laser Speed Light, these things of Engineering beauty are instantly recognisable thanks to their bright orange, anodised aluminium tubes in comparison to the traditional silver, stainless steel. Here in lies the key to their brilliance - whilst not the only aluminium threaded screw on the market, competitors have missed out on the outrageous weight savings on offer by integrating replaceable tips and other 'features' - Laser Speed Lights are quite simply designed to be light and light they are!
To put it in context the 102cm of Petzl Laser Speed Lights on the left including the carrying wrap (80g) weigh 736g, the 97cm worth of assorted stainless steel screws on the right again including carrying wrap weigh in at 1342g, near as damnit twice as much! As my colleague James, said as he held up the two wraps, this is a weight saving you instantly notice, there's no trying to convince yourself that you're saving a few grams, it's very, very obvious!
Saving weight is great and all that but how do they perform? In short brilliantly, they have marginally longer teeth and a slightly different angle of attack meaning with the first jab and twist I've found them to bite more often than most others.
Once engaged another element of their polished design comes into play, they've got a significantly longer crank handle, making the winding in stage feel more natural and comfortabl, giving a bit more power. The only downside I've found is that because of this larger crank, that when finishing up close to the ice, I've found I've had to knock a bit more ice out the way to get the hanger to sit nicely. Not a major problem by any means and nothing a wallop on the hanger won't fix!
So what else needs to be considered, they can't be that fantastic? Truth be told, I personally think they are! Not getting more than a week or two of Water Ice climbing in a year, the durability of the aluminium tubes isn't too much of a concern and knowing friends who use them in more Alpine climbing situations they haven't been let down. Whilst the threads might be a little more susceptible to dings, it's not enough to consider for most peoples usage, equally a few people have raised concerns about them being a little harder to clear because the ice core seems to freeze into the tubes a bit more than with stainless steel screws, ultimately though nothing your V-Threader won't clear.
- Pete -
Ultimately don't just listen to me, here's what UKClimbing have to say:
"Summary: Great screws that are unbelievably light. They work exceptionally well, rack well, weigh next to nothing and - being bright orange - they even look cool. Downsides are that they can ding up easily on the threads and they cost about a tenner more than similar steel screws, but if that £10 is available, then the saving in weight is, we think, worth it."
Christmas Climbing Gifts!
We've got the usual selection of Christmas stocking fillers available in the shop; tubs of ClimbOn, bags of chalk, maybe a new chalk bag or a 30m indoor rope but maybe you want something a bit different?
How about the finest fingerboards around? A Beastmaker 1000 or 2000, just £67 each, the ultimate tool for training finger strength. Made out of wood, these not only look attractive but are also skin friendly, with comfortable yet very testing grip shapes covering the gamut of tiny crimp, to large open hand slopers.
Easily one of the best deals around on Cams, our DMM Demon cams are just £36 a unit and are a great idea for keeping the Trad climber in your life safe. If you're feeling generous we've even got multipacks which save even more money. Clearly colour-coded for size and lightweight, the Demons are a great way to build up a cam collection.
If it's more Sport climbing that they're into then they'll thank you if you get them a pair of LePirate belay glasses, no more craning their neck whilst belaying making life far more comfortable, perfect for indoor or outdoor use and come with strap, cleaning cloth and rigid case.
Finally for the bouldering brute, who just wants to get strong what else but one of Pinch Hold Mugs, "Restful exercise for climbers", the ultimate receptacle for post climbing drinking sessions.
We've got a wealth of other ideas and deals including some Dick's Climbing exclusives from DMM with our own Phantom screwgates and Spectre quickdraws in 'Christmas Tree Green'. Have a look at www.DicksClimbing.com, pop into the shop, or don't hesitate to give us a ring or email. We're happy to help and know our kit inside out. We've even got some Dick's Climbing exclusives from DMM with unique Phantom screwgates and Spectre quickdraws in 'Christmas Tree Green'.
Whether it's Trad, Sport, Bouldering or Winter we've got the know-how to find the perfect pressie!
From myself, Dick and the rest of the team, all that remains is to wish you a fantastic festive period!
- Pete -
Special Offers on Edelrid Ropes - 20% off whilst stocks last!
We've got some great deals available if you're looking for a new rope, if it's workhorse 9.8mm Boa or 10mm Python ...
Alternatively how about a pair of Apus Pro ropes; super skinny, top end dry-treated half ropes - these are what I use for UK Trad and continental Ice and love them, when I've wobbled up a full rope length pitch I really do appreciate how much lighter these are, hanging below me and they're so nice to handle when belaying.
If you're after something skinny as a single rope there's the Swift, at 8.9mm this is getting as close as most people would be happy tying into and trusting it to keep them safe!
Finally if you're after something a bit different have a look at the Parrot ropes, made of the spare yarns on the factory floor, these are each unique, with a wild, colourful speckled appearance.
There you have it, that's a small selection of what's on offer, have a nose through the Rope collection on the website and see what you can snag!
Okay, so superlatives aside, it's time to snap up some bargains here at Dick's Climbing!
We're looking to clear out some room to get more exciting things into the shop, as such look here to get a great deal - Dick's Climbing Spring Sale!
You find a host of offers but some standout offers include:
Heavily discounted first Generation DMM Dragon cams. I personally own a full set of these and will testify both to their ease of use, the benefits of extendable slings and most importantly their ability to bring a falling body to rest!
Technical ice tools at a great prices. Since it's sadly no longer winter, we're shifting our technical tools out, meaning Nomics, Quarks and Apex cheap. Again I will testify to how amazing Nomics are having just swung mine around in anger. If you get in there quick, you can have them for a few final blasts up to Scotland perhaps.
What else is there? Plenty of shoe models from super comfortable starter shoes through to Evolv Shamans at the high end, down-turned end.
Have a nose and see what tickles your fancy!
Static Rope Offcuts - just £1 per metre
Perfect abseil ropes for Pembroke or rigging ropes for anchors, big dog leads or climbing Southern Sandstone.
We've managed to accumulate a number of static rope offcuts in various lengths from a couple of metres up to the longest at 95m in 10.5/11.0mm diameters.
Not available to buy online or to cut shorter, pop in to the shop and see what lengths are left available. Judging by last time these won't last long, especially the longer lengths.
So it so often seems Avon gets a bit of a poor reputation as a noisy, polished crag but Dick and I, here will vehemently defend the place!
Given it’s doorstep location, it’s the perfect place to pop down for a climb after work and whilst yes there are a few routes to avoid (Jasper sitting high on my list), there’s so many routes that make the place great whether you’re looking at climbing hard trad test-pieces or an easy multi-pitch outing from the carpark to the ice cream van. Hell, there’s even New Quarry with it’s low grade sport climbing and even some French 8a sport routes tucked in around Seawalls with Academic and The Prince. All in all something for most people.
Without further a do though, here’s probably my favourite route at the gorge, Gronk, which is apparently a noun meaning a fool or idiot; a weak person. Seems about right.
So my history with Gronk is chequered, early in my Trad climbing career I took a fantastic lob off this route. Climbing in the dark with poor head torch between us, my leader traversed across the first break with me following, albeit too high. I remember a brief moment looking down and seeing it was so black that I couldn’t see the ground, just a velvety dark space below … then I fell down into afore mentioned dark space and swung fiercely into the route Morpheus below to the right, which I then had to climb up to join my partner in crime at the shared belay. At this point we decided to take the easier route off much to my relief.
Fast forward seven or eight years I must have climbed the route easily ten times or more with various partners, sometimes leading, sometimes lead and more recently as a most agreeable solo taking in the five varying pitches up and around the Bisector Wall of Seawalls.
Classic Avon protection including a token peg protecting the unusual moves early in the climb, lead way to a nice diagonal romp up through various grooves and protrusions, now passing the large white rock scar that used to house a dubious flake. Then with the third pitch, the excitement begins, a peculiar few moves downwards lead to a brilliant traverse left to right, a number of large ledges for feet are coupled with a very sparse selection of crimps for hands making it an exciting outing. Pitch four leads to the greatest exposure passing over the cap of the Bisector Wall on a secure but exacting traverse along cracks and rails for hands and feet with a clear view of the ground far below by this point. A longer pitch than initially expected as it continues on around the corner a fair bit before the final belay sets you up for the last pitch straight up to the Downs and a much deserved Ice Cream at the van parked at the top, giving you the perfect viewing position to observe your chosen route to the top.
I’m not alone in my favour for this route with it boasting a plethora of 3 Star votes on UKC and if you’re still not convinced have a look at this great video showing a young team tackle it.
- Pete -
So with the continual range development here in the shop we've increased the number of quickdraws significantly.
This has had knock on effects, first of all and most importantly there is now a wide range of colour options to choose between, be it purple, green, red or even grey quickdraws you're after we've got you covered! Secondly, there are now a range of styles, lengths and options available. To try and simplify the options we've drawn up the following table:
In short Alpha Sport quickdraws are the best of the best for Sport Climbing with their comfy ergonomic shape and easy to click 'biners, whilst for Trad The Wild Country Helium's come out top thanks to their full size, despite being lightweight, easy to use with gloves on too for Winter and Alpine adventures.
All the options above are available on the following page, look out for the multipack deals which save further pennies!
Time to brighten up your quickdraws and rack!
There's a perpetual battle between Dick and I at the shop here about colour coding and matching. I myself prefer my kit colour co-ordinated, my shoes matching my harness, matching my quickdraws. Dick on the other hand is more lackadaisical about such things, some might say more sagacious ...
Regardless we've both decided that DMM's coloured range of Sports Draws are well worth keeping in store, as they're both vibrant, cool looking and easily recognisable as your own - well now they are, before everyone grabs a set. If you want to check out the options have a look here:
Aero's are DMM's workhorse Sport draw, cheap and durable they're a great option to get a good selection together, they're the green ones.
Coming in vibrant purple are Shadows, with their I-beam construction these lighten the weight considerably but are still super durable thanks to the clever hot-forged design leaving plenty of metal in the mission critical locations.
Final the crème de la crème, Alpha Sports in striking red. These are the best of the best when it comes to DMM (and possible all manufacturers), they're ergonomic with their bent back bars, the added texture aid handling and the lovely wide tapes are great to grab at times of need. As I said you'll struggle to find a better quickdraw for bolt clipping.
You can also buy the 'biners on their own or in options of one, three or five if you fancy retro fitting them to your present 'draws, just search for Aero, Shadow or Alpha respectively.
If you're a Trad climber, don't worry we've not left you out we've got our ridiculously popular orange Phantom screw gates available to lighten the load on your rack and ensure that there's not the frequent end of day discussions over who's DMM Screwgate is who's. Available in packs of three and five, they're as cheap as £9 if you buy a few.
All in all, no excuse not to colour code (if you think like me) or just brighten up your rack (if you think like Dick)!
P.S. If you prefer your rack monochrome we have the perfect snapgates for you - DMM Phantoms in Black with packs of 5 for £25 that's just £5 a 'biner compared to RRP of £8!
To celebrate our recent collaborations with Mammut and DMM on our own special edition ropes and karabiners, we've put together this special bundle.
The rope is an orange treated Mammut rope, 60m and 9.8mm. The PROTECT treatment is what was formally referred to as SuperDRY and means they're a great option for alpine or water ice routes where a single rope may be preferable. Middle marked and lovely to handle, these really are great.
Coupled with the orange rope is an equally orange DMM Phantom 'biner, the most handleable super lightweight locking 'biner around. There's a reason we've sold so many of the standard, grey version of this 'biner they're simply great. The Dick's Special edition version improves them even more with a vivid orange finish and red gate to contrast and even more importantly they're laser etched with DICK'S CLIMBING across the back bar!
So yep to summarise, a fantastic treated single rope with a FREE special edition Phantom, arguably the best locking 'biner on the market!
Need an abseil rope for Pembroke?
20m of rope for rigging?
A dog lead?
We've currently got a lot of static rope off-cuts we need to get rid of, so until most of it is gone we will selling at only £1 per metre.
At the moment we still have some long lengths of upto 90ish metres, so perfect for abseil ropes, I expect the long lengths will go fast however, so don't hang about.
Give us a call or send us an email if you need a bit.