Backpacker - - Editors’ Choice Awards -

Put an ice axe pick on a ski pole and you get a Whippet—a niche win­ter tool fa­vored by alpin­ists who want an ex­tra mea­sure of safety. The prob­lem is that ice axes are, well, sharp. Ski­ing with one at­tached to your ski pole when you don’t need it is court­ing dis­as­ter. So if you’re not among the se­lect group of big-line skiers who use it on the de­scent as well as the climb, then you’ll like this new Whippet that’s eas­ily re­mov­able with a twist dial. Use it as a reg­u­lar ski pole, then at­tach the ice axe on the fly if con­di­tions re­quire.

“It’s nice to have just-in-case in­sur­ance that fits in my pack’s toplid,” one tester says. “When I was down­climb­ing into Dragon’s Tail Couloir in Rocky Moun­tain Na­tional Park, I en­coun­tered ice and ex­posed rock, so I just popped the pick onto my pole.”

We were also happy to have the ice axe op­tion when we were boot­ing up slopes steeper than 35 de­grees and side­hilling above long run-outs in the Pi­o­neers. Make no mis­take, though: The Whippet is not an al­ter­na­tive to an ice axe (which has a much stronger shaft). Self-ar­rest tech­nique re­mains the same, though.

It comes in two va­ri­eties: a three-piece alu­minum pole (the one we tested) and a lighter, two­piece car­bon model ($160). You can also buy it as an ac­ces­sory ($60 for just the pick) for BD’s new Tra­verse WR 2 poles ($100); it’s not com­pat­i­ble with any other poles. –M.H. $120; 1 lb. 1 oz. (ski pole and pick); black­di­a­mon­d­e­quip­

Ex­plor­ing the Pi­o­neers’ high ter­rain

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