Rack & hardware
Modifying your ice hook for mixed climbing
04 December 2008
Note: Many of these articles are very old, and although the technical information is still relevant the equipment mentioned may not be (for example a Stormy cooker was state of that art in 1995, but not in 2021).
Ice hooks are great, bomber in rock, turf and mud. Unfortunly in ice they tend to be very marginal, and should be treated like you would a size 1 micro nut. An ice hook should only ever be placed where nothing else will go, as a stubby screw will be stronger in thin ice, or an angle peg in an ice choked crack. If the only piece that’ll go is a hook, them make sure it’s placed deep, clip it with a screamer, use it with skinny ropes, and don’t exspect miracles.
Thankfully ice hooks work much better on more esoteric ground, working great in turf, grass and general vegatable wierdness. They also work great in cracks, espiecally thoes choked with frozen mud and dirt. The problem with rockplacements is that the hook will often be overdriven; generally becouse you’re trying to create the correct pull, meaning the hook has to be fully driven. An overdriven hook in rock can be very difficult, if not impossible, to remove.
The problem is that for mixed climbing, where rock placemnst need to be made, the normal ice hook is far too long. What’s needed is a hook of half the length, so that it’s possible to place it fully, but still allows easy removal.
At the moment no one makes such a hook, meaning the only option is to modify an exsisting design.
The basic idea is to shorten the hook by half with a hacksaw, then reshape the pick itself so that it resembles your axe pick as closely as possible. Ideally if it matches your pick then if your pick finds a tight spot, you can throw in your hook once it’s removed. Often this hook can be hand placed, or simply tapped to seat. These mini hooks can also be stacked with other gear to hold it in place.
At the moment the best hook to buy an modify is the DMM Bulldog, both due to it’s lower price than the BD Spectre, plus it’s shallow angle allows much easier modification.