In any developing sport, the high end of the equipment spectrum is constantly changing. This is the case in the growing sport of ice climbing.
Today’s difficult mixed routes require a delicate touch, and a thin pick is a clear advantage. It enters the ice with greater ease, causes less fracturing, and helps ensure that each swing results in a solid placement. Petzl recognizes this and offers the highest performance picks for its top-level axes, the new 2010 Quark, Nomic, Ergo. Even with their radically tapered tips all of the picks on these Petzl tools are given a “T” rating according to EN 13089, the European standard for ice tools. This is true for both the “ICE” and “DRY” picks which are both only 3 mm wide at the tip. Originally the “T” and “B” designations stood for tools that were robust enough to pass the respective tests for “Technical” and the less demanding “Basic” ice axe use. Despite this you may find B rated picks on some manufacturers technical tools.
In order to receive a “T” rating, an ice axe pick must pass two tests: (1) a pick strength test – sometimes called a “bend test”, and (2) a fatigue test. In the strength test, the pick is clamped in a vise, a force is applied to it, and the amount of permanent pick deformation is measured. If this deformation exceeds the threshold, the pick receives a “B” rating; otherwise, it is rated “T”. In the fatigue test, the pick is clamped in a vise and a cyclic force is applied to both sides of the pick for a total of 50,000 load cycles, during which the pick must not break.
In years past Petzl had B-rated Cascade picks, these were used on the previous generation of waterfall tools (i.e., old Quark & Nomic Cascade Picks). All of these picks passed the “T” fatigue test, and in many cases they also passed the “T” strength test as well, but not always. To insure consistent quality and ratings Petzl labeled them “B”. It is important to remember that these B-rated picks on Petzl’s older tools still passed the “T” fatigue test with flying colors.
The picks on Petzl’s new Quark, Nomic, Ergo all pass “T” ratings which is quite remarkable! It is very rare to hear of someone breaking one of Petzl’s picks, they may bend in extreme circumstances but they rarely if ever break. “Charlet Steel” is indeed really incredible material. We are convinced that the excellent performance gained with a thinner pick is beneficial to all climbers and all types of ascents. It is very difficult with current technology to produce a 3 mm T-rated pick, that is why you may see some rather thick picks on some manufacturers T-rated tools, or perhaps even the use of B-rated picks on their technical tools. The picks on Petzl’s tools will allow users, novice and expert alike, to get to the top with fewer swings, better hooking, and less ice in the face.
U19 ICE ICE pick for Quark, Nomic, Ergo
U19 DRY DRY pick for Quark, Nomic, Ergo