Guide to buying and finding the best essential ice climbing tools, gear and equipment.
Several sporting goods companies have come forward to respond to the demand of the modern alpine ice climber. The surge in new technologies in this area provides ice climbers with the newest and most state-of-the-art gear on the planet. Ice climbing is one of those sports when specialized equipment and clothing are a must for both safety and survival.
As far as clothing is concerned, most ice climbers desire a body suit or set of bibs specifically for winter travel. These suits are designed to retain warmth while keeping out moisture and debris. Most of these suits are made for the articulation necessary for ice climbing. They are often reinforced at the knees and the ankles. If wearing bibs or separate snow-pants during a climb, a coat that hangs past the waist is a must. As an ice climber reaches, and stretches, the longer coats cover the midsection and ensure that the climber is not exposed to the elements.
While focusing on clothing, it is important to mention that a hat that accommodates a climbing helmet is also a necessity. Gloves with rubberized palms, designed for gripping ice tools, are the best bet for hand coverage. Gloves should always be attached with wrist straps to avoid becoming lost. An ice climber without gloves can find him/herself in a bad spot battling frostbite without this simple precaution.
Boots used by ice climbers are often designed out of synthetics such as plastic. Hard shell boots are the rule in alpine regions as they provide rigid soles for the attachment of crampons. More sophisticated models also allow for good foot rotation, necessary in "flat-footing", and still provide excellent ankle support. Lastly, gaiters, to go over top of footwear, are also a good idea. Gaiters keep the ankle free of ice, snow and debris while, at the same time, protecting bootlaces. They also provide extra warmth and make moving through deep snow more pleasant.
The tools of ice climbing are, like the clothing, highly specialized. Crampons are the mainstay of this activity. These metal spikes make it possible for the ice climber to safely traverse icy landscapes and scale vertical ice falls. Crampons attach to the climber?s boots and can easily be removed when no longer necessary. The two main types of crampons are rigid and hinged. The type chosen by the climber is based on the activity at hand. Front-pointing, a technique used in scaling vertical ice, is most easily accomplished with rigid framed crampons. These are more technical, and more expensive, than hinged crampons. Hinged crampons, however, are sufficient for moderate ice travel.
The next most important piece of gear in the ice climber?s arsenal is the ice axe. These devices are usually fitted with an adze or hammer opposite the axe?s blade. They come in many varieties; curved, reverse curved, technically curved, or straight. These tools have numerous uses from aiding in scaling ice to stopping a climber who has slipped on steep ice and is sliding out of control. Most ice axes are fitted with wrist leashes to keep the climber from loosing the device and also to facilitate in holding and swinging the axe. These leashes are bound close to the axe shaft so that they do not get caught or tangled on any other equipment while they are in use.
Ice screws are important pieces of equipment for setting rope placements. Ice screws come in several designs and, again, the type used depends on the type of climbing being attempted. Some screws are hollow, allowing for less ice fracture, while others are solid, for harder more stable ice. Some ice screws are made to be quickly placed by screwing in with an attached ratchet or other device (read: hand) and some are hammered in and "screwed" out. All are designed for removal and to be used more than once, depending on the condition of the device after the climb.
Another piece of gear for ice climbing includes the holster. Holsters for carabineers, screws and other ice tools make it easy to carry a large quantity of these items while at the same time keeping them well organized. Ropes for ice climbing are standard 10 ? 11 millimeter climbing rope. While the standard length is 50 meters (165 feet) some climbers prefer longer ropes for longer pitches. It is also worth looking into the newer, water repellent ropes that are designed to keep from freezing.
With all the gear covered, the final thing that needs protection is the eyes. It is often underestimated how quickly one can become blinded by the reflection of the sun?s rays off of freshly fallen snow. Heavily tinted and specifically designed glacier goggles are the answer to this problem. No brand is cheap, and it is worth noting that when dealing with one?s sight, think quality over price. Even temporary blindness in such extreme conditions can lead to disaster.
The fundamental tools and equipment of this alpine sport have been covered in their most basic form. It is always best to personally try on and inspect all gear prior to purchase and prior to every trip. Each climber will have unique needs and tastes. Always remember that this equipment should be used only after receiving proper instruction in its use. A little training can go a long way to make this adventurous sport enjoyable for a lifetime.
In addition to using furniture wisely, it is important to handle it carefully. Safe handling and moving of furniture begin with a basic understanding of how a piece is constructed. The second step is to plan carefully.
Before picking up a piece of furniture, determine how it is put together and if any of its parts are removable or detachable. Make sure you know where the furniture is its strongest - generally along a major horizontal element - and try to carry it from these points.
Then examine the room and the route whereby the furniture is to be moved. Look around to make sure you know where everything is. Identify potential trouble. Light fixtures that hang low, for examples, or that extend out from the wall may be damaged or cause damage. Glass table tops are also easily damaged if bumped. If necessary, clear the way by moving or removing fragile or obstructive items. Protect the furniture to be moved with soft padding or wrap it in a blanket pad. Padding, which will provide extra insurance against bumping and gouging, is especially important if an item is going into storage.
Before moving an item, make sure you know exactly where it goes next. Plan ahead to adjust the temperature and relative humidity in the new location so they are the same as where the furniture presently is. Extreme changes in temperature and humidity can cause splitting of joints and veneers.
Never hurry when you are moving furniture. Scratches, dents, and gouges from bumps against door knobs, doorways, and other furniture are always more likely in haste. Each item needs to be approached individually, without haste, and with sufficient manpower present.
Make sure you have a firm grip on the piece with both hands. Do not wear cotton gloves. It is essential that hands not slip from a piece of furniture while it is being moved.
Never slide or drag furniture along the floor. The vibration can loosen or break joints, chip feet, break legs, etc., to say nothing of what dragging does to the carpeting or finish on the floor. Whenever possible, use trolleys or dollies for transporting heavy pieces.
Handling valuable furnishings requires a special attitude: in general, movement should be carried out at a slower pace. Here are some quick tips for moving furniture properly. Remember: If you don't break it, it doesn't have to be fixed!
Just as gymnasts work with "spotters" to catch them when they misstep, have helpers on hand to guide the movers so they don't crash into walls or other pieces of furniture
Anticipate trouble; think through every step; plan ahead; and do everything with care
Make sure the route is clear and has no obstructions, such as narrow doorways or hanging chandeliers that might hinder the safe passage of furniture and movers
The following sections offer suggestions for moving specific types of furniture: SEATING FURNITURE
When lifting a chair, remember that the seat rail is its strongest part, not the chair back. Frequently lifting by the back, especially the crest rail, will eventually result in breakage. For small chairs, lift by the side seat rails, one hand near the front on one side, the other near the rear on the other side.
When lifting a large chair or sofa, the principles are the same. Grab underneath the side frame, making sure to lift with your legs rather than your back. For upholstered chairs or sofas, place your hands underneath the frame to avoid touching the upholstery. If upholstery must be touched, use cotton gloves. For chairs with slip seats, remove the slip seat and wrap and move it separately to prevent its being soiled or falling out during the move.
The strongest part of a table is generally the apron. Whenever possible, lift the table carefully from the apron, never by the top or legs. Lifting on the top rather than the apron may break the glue-blocks that hold the top to the frame or strip out the screws that hold the top on. Grabbing the legs, particularly tables with long, unsupported legs, will cause unnecessary stress on the leg and the joint connecting it to the apron. Whenever possible, wrap padding around a table's legs before moving it to prevent chipping or breakage during the move.
If you are moving a drop-leaf table, first determine which support members move. Is the table leaf supported by a bracket or by a swing-leg? Fold the leaves down, and restrain them with padding and a tie band. If the support is provided by a swing-leg or gate-leg, tie it in place as well. The only safe place to grab a drop-leaf table is underneath the end aprons. Grabbing by the legs, especially swing-legs, will increase the chance of damage to them, and grabbing the table by the side leaves will often result in fracturing the long rule joint that allows the leaves to drop.
While case pieces, especially large ones, may appear very different from tables and chairs, the same rules apply. Never try to move a large piece by yourself. A case piece requires at least two people. While a case piece requires can be moved by carrying it carefully, holding on to the bottom as you would a table or chair, it is better to move the piece on a dolly. A dolly makes the move safer for both the movers and the object, and that is all the more true for large objects.
First, examine the piece. How was is put together? And how can it come apart? Take the piece apart as much as is possible. That is, remove the top piece of a cabinet from its base; remove the cornice or pediment, if there is one.
If the carcass is sturdy enough, remove an drawers to lighten the load and make the move easier. Carry the drawers separately to the destination. However, if the carcass is weak and shifts from side-to-side, leave the drawers in place to provide stability and prevent further damage to the joints. Tall pieces that do not come apart into separate sections need to be set on their sides on a dolly to prevent their topping over.
If the piece has handles, wrap them with padding. Padding protects the handles, the furniture surface (if the handles have swinging bales or drops), the movers, and the surroundings in case you bump up against anything.
Never grab a heavy piece like a chest of drawers or bookcase by the cornice at the top. The attachment of the top to the base may be loosened and pull apart from the rest of the piece.
Lift the piece straight up, using your legs, not your back. Don't let it tilt, and do not grab it by its hardware or any other protrusions.
The moving project becomes increasingly difficult with objects that are large and complex. Objects that come apart into many pieces or are unwieldy require extra care and preparation. Because of their many parts grandfather and grandmother clocks are very difficult to move.
Always remove the pendulum and weights from within the clock before doing anything else. These pieces are heavy and will damage the clock case if they smash into the side of the case. They may also cause damage to the mechanism itself. Wear cotton gloves when you remove the pendulum and weights, to avoid corroding the metal pieces from skin contact.
Remove the hood from the top of the clock (they often slide forward), and lay it down to pack and move separately. Make sure the door to the case is locked or securely closed before moving the clock. Use bare hands, not gloves, for moving and packing the carcass of the case. For short moves, like those of only a few feet, it is permissible to lift by grabbing the narrow case from the underside of the molding at the top of the waist, or center portion of the case, provided that the molding is firmly attached to the case itself. For longer moves, or if that molding is not secure, the clock case should be carried flat like a coffin.
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