Wednesday 28 December 2011

The time has come to sharpen

At the end of last winter my picks and crampons were pretty blunt after lots of scratching around in Scotland, Norway etc. so it’s time to get them in tip top shape ready for the first big routes of the winter.
Most of the routes I end up climbing are mixed routes and so I need nice sharp points on my picks to get the accuracy needed for those tenuous hooks. A decent big file and some elbow grease are needed to get them just perfect, and making sure you keep the teeth all individually sharpened. For ice pitches a narrowed super sharp pick is the perfect tool for the job, and the teeth aren’t so useful, in fact they tend to make it harder to get the pick out when you’ve really whacked it in.

Poor old pick - looking a bit blunt!
Blunt pick
 When using a file - use even flat stroke and in strokes away from the body in one direction - this is how it is designed to be used and will give the best results.The finish you are looking for is smooth and mirror-like. If you use the file in different directions this is impossible.

First start by sharpening the tip of the pick. You are aiming for an angle of the tip as shown in the picture below. If the angle is too steep the pick will prise off the hold when you are using it. Imagine the tip of the pick and handle are both touching the file/wall. 

Next step is to file the edges of the tip - see picture below. Try and aim to get an angle of about 45 degrees.

Then file the underside of the pick - first the tip as below. Make sure you end up with an angle on the point - ie do not file it to be flat or you won't be able to use the tip of the pick on small holds.

Next file the sides of the teeth - again at around 45 degrees - super useful when using you picks on ice as it gives you a narrow profile pick. See below.

Repeat this process along the top of the pick - as shown below.

The finished profile!! Not perfect but way cheaper than a new set of picks!

Picks can be sharpened a few times but will eventually get too short - and then it's time to get a new set. Hope you find this useful - a few people have been asking me lately what I do with my picks so this is my best attempt at showing you what I do - without hiring a film crew!!

Happy New Year


James Thacker said...

Andy, do yourself a favour and buy a new file..

Andy Turner said...

Yeah, yeah! Still sharpens......