Pick of the pack

The trouble with rock climbers is that they just don’t look after their gear: some climbers can go through five or six picks in a season. Black Diamond Equipment based in Salt Lake City, Utah, makes a full line of ice tools used in climbing. The company found that the compound curved shaft of its ice pick – made in 430 chrome moly steel – was prone to breakage and point wear particularly when the climber mis-hit or smashed the point on rock under the ice veneer.

To combat the rough treatment the company has developed the `ultimate’ ice pick – a `stinger’ pick made from Carpenter Aermet alloy. It is a double vacuum melted material that offers high tensile shear strength, high fracture toughness and resistance to fatigue. The added strength of the material means that the pick can be 20% thinner than the original. It also gives better penetration and more hookability in fissures.

When heat treated, Aermet alloy can attain typical tensile strength of 285ksi. It is virtually free of thermal distortion when properly heat treated.