The Black Diamond Whippet has become one of my most used items in an ever growing quiver of gear to manage risk and stay safe while skiing the backcountry. Even though a Whippet is not as bomber as an ice axe a whippet is designed to help you self-arrest a fall on a descent; and it works.
The 4130 steel pick is strong enough to help you prevent a fall from running out of control, and is a tool I highly recommend to anyone venturing into ski mountaineering territory. Some snowboarders will ride with an ice axe in their hand(s) if a descent warrants it. For skiers this isn’t all that practical, but here’s where the Whippet shines.
Whippets also aid on the up when climbing steep descents. Depending on the line in question I’ve chosen to climb with one whippet and one regular pole, two whippets, or a combination of a whippet and an ice axe. Generally when you’re skiing with a sharp pick at the end of your pole it’s best to be skiing in a controlled manner, which is usually what you’re doing when on a ski mountaineering mission anyway. However, it must be noted that caution should be taken when skiing with Whippets as a fall at high speeds could facilitate another unfortunate incident on top of the given fall.
The shaft of the pole is lightweight, adjustable, and is easily interchangeable with other aluminum Black Diamond Poles. Lately, when I’ve been skiing in the Eastern Sierra backcountry for a few days I’ll bring my two aluminum adjustable poles and the top half of two whippets. This allows me to play with whatever pole/Whippet combination I deem fit depending on the particular objective for the day. The Flick-Lock adjusters are bomber, easy to use, and won’t slip out like old-school adjustable poles once did.
Whippets are extremely versatile in that sometimes you don’t really need an ice axe for the up, but if you did happen to slip while booting or skinning a fall could be huge. Enter the Whippet and you have a tool to help stop that fall. I’ve also used my Whippet as protection while skiing a steep line by stopping in my safe spot and plunging the pick in the snow for an added sense of stability.
In sum, if you’re skiing and riding in the backcountry and even have the slightest inclination crampons or an ice axe will be useful, you’d probably benefit from adding a Whippet to your quiver. They’re a tad spendy, but being able to continue to ski in the backcountry, safely, is priceless.
|AVG PRICE||$99.95 (Each)|
|SHAFT MATERIAL||Aluminum/Chromoly Canard|
|GRIP MATERIAL||Plastic, Steel|
|WEIGHT||14.1oz (400g) per pair w/baskets|
|EXTENDABLE RANGE||110-140cm (collapsed)|