We are forever indebted to Andrew McLean, designer of the Whippet. With dozens (hundreds?) of known uses, the iconic pole is a staple of ski mountaineering. The latest iteration features a totally removeable Whippet head, allowing you to adapt to the changing conditions at a moment’s notice. Using an easy-to-operate threaded wedge system to securely pair the reinforced pole and Whippet head into one, the removable head offers massively increased versatility at no extra cost to safety and security compared to the previous model.
Designed as a self-arrest device, the Whippet is moderately capable of stopping a slide in progress. It’s better at preventing them, with the plunging pick offering purchase in consolidated snow. It can also hook on rocks and roots to give grip in mixed terrain. While not the lightest pole, it’s often enough security to forgo carrying a proper ice axe, reducing overall weight.
Not sure if your day of high speed meadow skipping is going to evolve into steep skiing? Maybe the snow isn’t stable enough to support your steep skiing plans and you’re skiing fast, low angle snow instead? Either way, skiing fast with a Whippet feels a bit too much like running with scissors and skiing steeps with no pointy self-arrest devices is even more terrifying. When you don’t need it just toss it in the pack next to your snacks, when you need it it’ll thread on at a moment’s notice. Better safe than sorry and you will thank the new Whippet for its versatility and application in any terrain.
- Three aluminum sections are adjustable between 100 and 140 centimeters in length and collapses all the way down to 70cm.
- Pick is made from stainless steel and has a wing to grab more snow when plunged.
- Comes with locking 3/4 baskets which can be changed without fuss but will lock in the proper orientation for spin-free performance.
- FlickLock Pro telescoping lock prevents collapse while maintaining a low profile.
* Please note that unlike most poles, these are sold individually.
Update 2018/19: The aluminum Whippet is now a three-piece (it was previously two) and the axe head is removeable.
Update 2019/20: Updated FlickLock Pro construction uses aluminum, and its small adjustment lever has an easier to use design. BD also added indexed baskets, meaning they put a tab on the basket which fits into a groove on the base, holding the basket in place and eliminating spinning baskets. As a heads-up, this update means that BD's new indexed baskets will NOT fit older 18/19 and prior poles, which don't have the necessary groove to accommodate the notch on the basket. Older BD baskets do fit onto the new poles, but you'll just have to keep suffering with spinning baskets.
|Lengths (cm)||Adjustable 97-140, collapsed at 70cm|
|Basket & Tip||Indexed 3/4 powder basket, carbide tip|
||Aluminum upper and lowers, stainless steel pick|
|Skimo Co Says|
|Notes||Security/self-arrest capability for when steep|
|Bottom Line||Essential ski mountaineering tool|
|Compare to other Adjustable Ski Poles|
Questions & Reviews
Since you can easily get a lightweight ski pole and axe that weigh less than a whippet these days, I don't think there are enough use cases where the whippet is the right tool to justify purchasing one anymore. Just get a Blacklight Pro pole and a Gully instead.
The one situation where I suspect the whippet might still be useful is relatively mellow spring skinning on a melt-freeze crust. It's tough to stop a slip with your edges when you have skins on and your heel detached, but an ice axe might not be long enough to plant on the slope without bending over.
My friend also has used the whippet for the last 3 years, and just keeps the removable head on. He's never had an issue of it falling off, though he does need to tighten it a few times a season.
The other trick I find is to only use the wrist loop on the whippet and let the other ski pole fall away. Its hard enough self arresting with any weigh on as it is, but if the free hand that normally is placed on the ice axe spike in a self arrest situation has a ski pole wrapped around it you are in trouble mate.
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