Gear Review: Fast Ice Cordless Ice-Screw Drill

Reviewing gear is similar to getting old

Modifications in the gear are gradual. Then you appear at a photo from a decade ago, gasp and say, “Oh, man, we used to have hair!” or, “We climbed in those!”

The Fast Ice cordless drill provides an alternate reality, one where every thing is different at a snap of this fingers. The Fast Ice screws ice screws into ice for you personally. With the Fast Ice you often don’t have actually to chop away surface ice or peck a pilot hole. Nor are you forced to place the screw at chest level or below and immediately be go out. The Fast Ice blasts the screw right through many surface crud or even between icicles without damaging valuable ice, and you can place pro as high as you can reach, up or way off to the side. As opposed to getting moved twisting in the screw, you just pull the drill trigger. Want a screw on the lip of this ice curtain? ZAP!

Gear Review: Fast Ice Cordless Ice-Screw Drill

The newest system does take practice. Loading the screw to the drill isn’t difficult, but you can fumble. Extracting the drill from its chest holster is a subtle lift and change, a procedure you’ll flub in a moment of panic. It took me personally a few days to become adept. You probably won’t just like the Fast Ice the first day, possibly two. Stick with it. I can now load a screw and unholster the drill in seconds. It will help to keep the drill adapter and chuck slicked up because of the included lube, and adjust the holster and harness perfectly for you.

Drilling a screw into ice takes 10 to 20 seconds, depending on the ice hardness and screw length. One battery pack will zip in 15 to 25 6-inch screws in water ice, with performance varying due to ice conditions, screw length and whether the spinning hanger needs to carve away ice. Carry the next pocket-sized battery and you have enough power for a full day of ice climbing. The Makita impact drill used for the Fast Ice arrives with two lithium-ion batteries that weigh six ounces each and juice up on the included charger in one hour. I utilized the drill in single-digit temps and found the cool didn’t appreciably impact battery performance.

Ice climbing

Ice climbing is all about sensory input from tools, crampons and ice screws. Hand place a screw and you feel whether the ice is thick or soft, solid or hollow, or in between. Although the Fast Ice is an electrical tool, you do develop a feel for ice quality and placement reliability.

Weight is finished three pounds and up to four for a large rack of screws. The drill aided by the special ice-screw chuck is 2 pounds 2 ounces. Add 13 ounces for the shoulder holster, and 1.4 ounces per screw for the drill adapter that slots onto either a Black Diamond or Petzl screw. The adapters are $19.95 each and don’t alter screw performance— you can nevertheless place and take away the screws by hand. In the event that you decide you don’t want to carry the drill on an alpine route, you can remove the adapters in a matter of seconds.

Ice climbing inherently requires a large amount of gear and junk, and also the Fast Ice adds more to that: You wear a drill under your arm, while having more straps and cords and stuff to manage. Most of the time the Fast Ice isn’t a large bother or into the way, but when you might be in close quarters it could be.

Worth it

A confident, seasoned ice climber can put a screw by hand almost as quickly as with the Fast Ice—this won’t be a game changer for that crowd. For everybody else, the Fast Ice can make a difference. The mere thought of having the ability to put a screw anywhere the ice is great and with little effort is a significant bump in confidence. The screw gun can also improve safety: Instead of running it out because you get too pumped placing screws, you can zip them in every body size if you desire, and before you know it, you’ll be looking at photos, gasping and saying, “Oh, man, we used to place screws by hand!”

Duane Raleigh

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