Black Diamond Whippet ?


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Mountain climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 13, 2018 - 01:28pm PT
Has anyone used the BD whippet, trekking /sky pole with a light ice ax head ?

I'm putting together plans for a long thru hike this summer that will involve a number of high snow covered passes and long steep but non technical snow slopes. Some form of light but reliable self arrest capable tool seems prudent to have. A full on ice ax seems like it would be too much to haul if only needed now and then.
We'll have micro spikes or BD Neve alloy crampons as well for traction.

Anyone have an opinion based on experience and/or a couple of used ones to sell.


Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Mar 13, 2018 - 02:15pm PT
the axes are super light these days. Also you can dig a kitty hole with one pretty fast.


Castlegar BC
Mar 13, 2018 - 05:16pm PT

I'd agree with Munge, tools are light these days. One pole and one tool can get you to most non-technical places.

Besides, an adze in the back-country is the original multi-tool.


Mammoth Lakes, CA
Mar 13, 2018 - 09:33pm PT
This is actually the only use for the Whippet that I feel is a good choice- those long distance hikes where you'll only use an axe sporadically if ever.

The Leki retractable style might be better though, than the fixed pick on the BD.

Social climber
Mar 13, 2018 - 10:13pm PT
hey there, say, all...

oh my... couldn't resist...

hope you enjoy it... :)

i like this kind-- but, i learned a lot, reading
all your posts, here... :)

Credit: neebee
another nickname

Social climber
Yazoo Ms
Mar 15, 2018 - 06:09am PT
Am not much of a climber, but feel at least competent at self-arrest. I took one trip at the lower end of what you describe. Guidebook recommended axe. I probably didn't need it but poles were invaluable.

Based on limited experience, I've wondered whether simultaneous use of hiking stick/ice axe doesn't result in less, rather than more security, compared with simple use of axe in moderate circumstance.

One can, of course, imagine using poles for self-arrest (wearing wrist loops only with due discretion).

Certainly this is all piker-type hand-wringing.

The "whippet" thing sounds doubtful. Just bring the damned axe. People will think you're a "real" climber!
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 15, 2018 - 08:04am PT
I have an older pair with the removable picks...

Interesting history:

I've used them for times when I have ski's and wanted ski poles but to also have a pick for self arrest on snow/neve type terrain.

Rumor has Whippets doing ok for WI3 around here (ha ha).

I think if you normally hike with ski poles for a trip like you describe, then, one might make sense to have. Otherwise, a light ice axe would be what I'd use.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Mar 15, 2018 - 10:37am PT
What’s a “non technical snow slope”? I guess, technically, it’s one you won’t die on if you
get going? Frankly, the Whippet doesn’t look a gumby tool to me if you’re mainly wanting it
for the poles AND you don’t want to die.
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Mar 15, 2018 - 11:16am PT
Neat tool, but am I the only one getting nauseated by writers' now RELENTLESS use of the word "iconic"? It's freakin' ubiquitous and ridiculous.

From the article linked above:

Since the mid 1990’s the Whippet has been an iconic tool for ski mountaineers.

Has it? Has it really? Try "important" or "essential" or pick up a damn thesaurus once and a while. Gah.

This ICONIC! rant is now over.

another nickname

Social climber
Yazoo Ms
Mar 15, 2018 - 12:25pm PT
Credit: another nickname
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 15, 2018 - 12:42pm PT
^^^ Funny...that looks like Andrew's avatar from the Teletip daze...

Mountain climber
Anchorage, AK
Mar 15, 2018 - 12:43pm PT

Total iconic gumby here……
Been using a whippet for years when I do ski traverses or easy mountaineering. Useful when kick stepping up or down some hard neve and you want a little extra. Have also used one with a small axe as a second tool on easy stuff.
Not really a tool for doing a self-arrest. But if you are already hiking with trekking poles it can be very handy at times.

Gym climber
Mar 15, 2018 - 12:45pm PT


(Somebody had to say it...)
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 15, 2018 - 12:54pm PT

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
Mar 15, 2018 - 12:56pm PT
Love it. I have arrested with it - albeit on firm snow. I have climbed all over the Northwest with it.
Anxious Melancholy

Mountain climber
Between the Depths of Despair & Heights of Folly
Mar 15, 2018 - 03:56pm PT
Used one for a couple decades. Use it in "cane" position, like I do all my walking sticks. As such, the narrow plastic-padded head can become uncomfortable. I also found that the two section collapsed length was much longer than a typical three section trekking poles. Great tool given the right conditions, but a regular pole is just about as effective in these same condition, IMO.

Hamilton, MT
Mar 15, 2018 - 09:31pm PT
Whippet gets a redesign for next year back to the removable head:

New design might be better for hiking, current one might be on sale. Lots of comments on that link too.

I've never had to use mine in anger but practiced with them a bit. Skiers seem to favor using two and punching them in quickly before you start moving too fast vs trying to do the standard climbers ice axe self arrest. Also not as strong/effective as an axe for plunging/ self-belay.

Micro spikes are amazing and a pair plus standard trekking poles will keep you upright and stable in a pretty remarkable set of conditions. I trail run a sheet ice trail through a narrow canyon above an icy stream all winter with mine with no worries.

Mountain climber
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 15, 2018 - 10:30pm PT
Hey, thanks for all the replies and input.

Even though we used to turn our noses up at people using ''dork sticks'' , at 63 , I'm a total convert to hiking with trekking poles, especially carrying a pack over rough ground and for long distances.

Last summer my wife and I hiked almost a thousand miles from Chief Mountain , Montana home to Orcas Island , Washington. In Glacier N. Park , the rangers almost required us to carry ice axes before they would issue a permit. Even though it was a year with record snowpack all across the northern tier, things melted out quickly in the brutally hot and dry summer that followed.

We encountered consistent temperatures from the high 80's, 90's and up to 100 degrees and stayed just barely ahead of the massive fires burning across the west .

All in all, it was an amazing trip, 62 days walking with one day off in Oroville , Wa. before the long leg across the Paysaten Wilderness and North Cascade Range.

We're putting together something similar , maybe longer with numerous high passes that are likely to be snowbound, hence the question about the Whippets

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Mar 15, 2018 - 10:53pm PT
Dude, you don’t need whippets, you need some llamas!

Grey Matter
Mar 15, 2018 - 11:13pm PT
Andrew McL uses two,

Messner used only one.

Which one is the gumby?

I can't believe that black diamond history article fails to mention the Ramer self arrest grip.
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