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.
Has anyone spent any considerable time with the new removable-axe-head whippets? Seems like a recipe for disaster to me; how secure is the attachment, is there some sort of lock-in-place mechanism or do you just screw the thing on and hope it doesn't slowly unscrew?
Mbillie, Maybe some others can chime in who have more experience. BD came up with what they call a ClickLock mechanism. It is not just a screw on attachment and it does not seem like it can unthread on its own.
The secret for self arresting with this is not to fall. 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.
I have never needed to self arrest with mine, thankfully, but they have performed well in practice scenarios. In practice scenarios it seemed like one whippet was easier to arrest on for me than two, although I know several people who prefer to carry one in each hand. Hardly an everyday tool for me, but in exposed situations definitely worth the fairly considerable cost for the peace of mind. I find one whippet, one regular pole and a mountaineering axe a nice combo for most situations.
The newer stainless steel whippet has a major design flaw, IMO: the notch at the pick is ridiculously sharp and several people have had them break off. I haven't had mine break and will be sending it in for recall (kudos, BD), but it's also good to know that the kinds of use in which they've broken amounts to using it as a mountaineering axe on short sections of ice, not basic snow/avy-bed self-arrest as they were designed for. Fortunately BD has acknowledged the problem and come up with a solution.