Gear Review: Black Diamond Whippet Self Arrest Ski Pole Review
Adjusts: 97 cm to 140 cm
Weight: 15 ounces / 430 grams
Warranty: 1 Year
Summary: The Black Diamond Whippet Self Arrest Ski Pole is an essential piece of ski mountaineering gear. This dependable, tough, life saving invention is a must have when skiing steep terrain, climbing gnarly bootpacks, or traveling over exposure. It does NOT replace a traditional ice axe, but it is a tool that can save your life when used properly.
Find The Best Price On The BD Whippet Ski Pole At Bottom Of Review
What do you get when you merge an ice axe with a ski pole? A Whippet.
Black Diamond calls the Whippet, “the ultimate ski mountaineering tool.” This self arrest ski pole is a valuable piece of gear that you need to have when you’re heading into to ski mountaineering terrain.
A Black Diamond Whippet can easily save your life. It’s a useful and handy tool for steep bootpacks, firm couloirs, glaciated terrain, exposed traverses, or no fall zones. The Whippet definitely beats lashing an ice axe to a ski pole with a couple of Voile straps!
Originally designed by legendary ski mountaineer, Andrew McLean, the Whippet hasn’t changed much over the years. The design combines the necessity of a ski pole with the functionality of an ice axe. This increases your ability to self arrest, which can potentially save your life. The current version features an aggressive stainless steel pick embedded into the grip of the ski pole. Part of the steel pick is a canard wing that provides additional surface area to help you self arrest and makes it easier to etch out platforms when necessary. Below the pick is a standard, trustworthy Black Diamond pole. You can choose between a 3 piece carbon option or a 2 piece aluminum option.
I opted for the two piece aluminum Whippet as its claimed weight is only 15 ounces. A rubberized grip on the upper shaft allows for easy adjustment of grip height.
Utilizing the flawless FlickLock adjustment the Whippet can range in size from 99 cm to 140 cm. The upper section is 18mm and the lower section is 16mm. (The 3-piece carbon Whippet compacts to 68 cm – great for a splitboarder.) With 5 cm marks on the pole, it’s easy to quickly adjust the pole to the height you need – longer for touring, shorter for skiing, even shorter for climbing.
Like other Black Diamond Poles, the Whippet features 100 mm (4 inch) powder baskets (always a good idea to carry an extra basket in your backcountry repair kit). The pick is solid and I have trusted my life to it plenty of times. Whether I’m setting a steep bootpack in firm snow on Koch Peak or dropping into steep terrain in the Apocalypse Couloir, I’m always glad to have the Whippet in hand.
Depending on your adventure, you can ski with one or two Black Diamond Whippets. They are not sold in a pair. You have to buy each one separately. I utilize a new version and an older one when necessary. Otherwise I combine one Whippet with one BD Pure Carbon pole.
I do not have any issues touring with Whippet. It functions just like a ski pole, except I hold the Whippet on top instead of by the grip. Some people complain about this and others have had issues with a Whippet’s sharp edges destroying their nice gloves, but I have had no issues. Just buy some Kincos.
A Whippet absolutely does NOT replace a true ice ax like the Raven, Venom, Cobra, or Viper. The Whippet is not certified as an anchor or as a technical climbing tool. The powder basket cannot plunge into firm snow as a means of security. Pairing the Whippet with an ice axe is a smart move in the right terrain like climbing small ice bulges or booting up steep terrain.
Just because you have a Whippet, it does not mean you are invincible. A Whippet is only a risk management tool that should only be used in backcountry terrain – not at the the ski resort. You must know how to use it. You need to practice self arrest to ensure that you know the tactics and techniques to stop yourself in the event of a fall.
Whenever you are skiing with sharp objects, the hazard associated with falling increases. No one wants to deal with a gaping penetration wound in the backcountry. It would be nice if the steel head was removable, but it is not. Of course if your Whippet does get dull, Andrew McLean has some tips on how to sharpen your Whippet.
Be careful out there and be aware that your gear is there to save your life, but in the meantime it is also potentially hazardous. The BD Whippet is sold with a pick guard. Besides the pick, it functions like an entirely normal adjustable ski pole.
If you are heading into ski mountaineering terrain, you should add a Black Diamond Whippet into your quiver of essential gear. It’s durable, dependable, and tough.
The Whippet does not have many competitors. Other self arrest ski poles include the Grivel Condor with a retractable pick or the Lifelink Guide Claw. These are all excellent products, but the Whippet seems to be the standard. Buy this ski mountaineering staple today. Or maybe you should buy two.
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Important: Black Diamond did issue a recall on the Whippet Ski Pole in November 2014. Here are the details.