We've all seen them. We probably own one of them, but should we trust them? Those great $10 ice screws that many retailers were selling (some still do) from Russia, are not quite the deal they seemed to be. These lightweight titanium screws with tiny (sometimes larger) threads are a real danger to people who don't understand the backround of these screws. Below I outline some of the basic problems that arrise with these screws.
Screws are not individually tested, and some have bent and broken under stress of only 300 pounds!
The screw's effective length is too short at only 15 cm. In glacier ice around here it is often a good idea to use 22 cm screws. Even in water ice these screws are often too short.
The paper thin threads on the screw melt out quickly and soon make the placement useless.
The Titanium used to make these screws is far too britle and thus accounts for the unusually low failure load.
The poorly attached machine stamped hanger is only rated to, suposidly, 1200 pounds. A far cry from a real ice screw.
To sum this up, these screws are cheap, lite, and limited. They do serve a good purpose for the ocasional belay on a glacier or icy section, but should be disgarded when taking on the sharp end.
Note: There are good Titanium ice screws out there. Ushba and other more expensive Russian screws (like the large diameter ratchet ones) all have big threads and quality controlled manufacturing. Ushba's screws are made of a special Titanium alloy that has suposidly tested stronger and less brittle than conventional alloys. These screws are a good weight savers as well as good pro.
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