Tech Tip #28
#365ClimbTips You see more and more carbon fibre walking poles on the market these days, offering an impressive reduction in weight. The problem with carbon fibre is that it’s not very resistant to damage, and being stiff, will be super strong, right until the moment they break. Alloy poles on the other hand, although a little heavier, due to having to be thicker and with a wider diameter, are very resistant to damage, and tend to bend instead of break, a fact testified to by most well-loved ski poles. This means carbon poles are best avoided for mountaineering, as this is just too abusive an environment. “But what about carbon fibre mountain bikes?” you say? Well here you’ve either got pros who get carbon bikes for free, so don’t care so much about how long they last, and people who see carbon bikes being used by pros, who assume they’re just as good as alloy bikes (and who don’t care how much they spend performance). I’ve had several carbon poles over the years, and although they’re great for rock climbing approaches and descents, packing down small in a pack, they all broke when subjected to heavy use, often breaking at the basket when knocking snow off crampons. The ideal pole would probably have an alloy lower section, and a carbon upper, but I’ve yet to see this, as carbon is now viewed as top end, and alloy as entry level, when really, the cheapest alloy poles will work perfectly well, and last you ten or so years.