A pictoral representation of the UIAA-151 and EN-568 standards for ice screws.
An alpinist's best friend, Polar ice screw features an integrated crank and concave cut teeth for ease of placement in ice. The tube features a tapered profile for a smooth passage of the screw in ice. Polar ice screw is made from heat treated and hardened Chromoly alloy to achieve the desired mechanical properties.
Axial Pullout Strength: 5kN
Radial Pullout Strength in test Ice block Type 2: 15kN
Vertical traverse per rotation (after 10 full rotations) under the load of 120N is > pitch of the thread
NOTE: Strength of an ice screw depends significantly on the quality of ice. Avoid using this on fragile, aerated and thin slabs of ice. A screw is only one part of the safety chain and should be used in conjunction with only CE and UIAA certified equipment.
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|Weight (grams / ounces)|
Weight (g / oz)
In grams and ounces, the weight, as stated by the manufacturer / brand.
Ice screws range between 6 - 30 cm. Generally speaking the sizes can be thought of as:
Short - 13 cm and below
Short screws (“shorties” or “stubbies”) are for thin ice found on harder ice climbs and/or in crappy conditions.
Medium - 14 - 17 cm
With ideal conditions climbers will be able to plug medium-sized screws with no problem. They have a nice weight to length balance.
Long - 18 cm and above
Long screws are most often used as anchors or in crappy ice conditions where they can go deep to find the real ice below. Mountaineers may also prefer long screws as they can gain better purchase in less than ideal ice and have less chance of melting out.
How Many To Carry
There is no standard of how many screws to carry of each size. It will vary depending on where you’re climbing, your style of climbing and what level you’re climbing at. Some climbers will get a variety of the sizes, while others might get a majority of medium screws, a few shorties for thin spots and some long screws for anchors and bomber placements.
Note: The amount of threading on each screw does not change even when the overall length changes (exception: e-climbs screws).
No Handle / Knob
About 30% of the options
Cons: No “speed” handle/knob for faster threading
Note: This is not currently a feature to filter on (coming soon), but is important to see the difference.
About 24% of the options
Pros: There is an extra “handle” or “knob” for faster screw threading. Cheaper than folding versions.
Cons: Some of the knobs stick out substantially and could cause the rope or draws to get caught on the lengthened handle.
Around 42% of the options
Pros: Foldable handle allows for quick threading and reduces snagging potential by folding out of the way.
Cons: More expensive.
Nearly 70% of the screws are color-coded, and this represents nearly all of the screws that have handles/knobs (color coding can also be on the hanger or the tube itself).
Pros: Like on cams, color-coding makes for faster size identification.
Cons: Generally color coding only comes on more expensive screws (with handles)
There are 7 brands that follow red, yellow, blue, gray, green as a small to large standard, but that is not consistent across the industry.
Sewn Sling (Pre-Attached to the Hanger)
Pro: You don’t have to carry quickdraws, so it saves weight and speed of clipping.
Con: The length of this sling may not be ideal and it is not adjustable
2 Clip Points on the Hanger
Pro: More clipping options, especially ones that are closer to the ice to reduce leverage in a fall situation.
Con: This comes standard on only a few screws so your options are limited. On some configurations this will also make the hanger much larger.
This is the most controversial feature. Grivel and CAMP (which make up 30% of the ice screw market) use reverse threading on all of their screws and claim that this angle is more effective at spreading an impact load across ice.
If you are interested in the merits of the “reverse thread” design, click to see photos of the concrete tests (reverse threading pulls out more concrete than standard threading) and read about the concerns of testing in concrete. Read discussion of the engineering that goes into thread design and the questioning of straight pulls while testing to judge if reverse threading would make a [significant] difference in the event of a fall on ice.
In kilonewtons, the strength as stated by the manufacturer / brand.
The material of the ice screw hanger (what you'd be clipping a carabiner into). Expect Stainless steel or aluminum here.
The material of the tube of the ice screw (aka shaft). Most often it'll be Chromoly or steel but Grivel, Petzl and e-climb (and perhaps others) offer an aluminum tube ice screw option.
Nearly 90% of ice screws are made from steel because steel is stronger and more durable.
Aluminum screws will dull and wear out much faster and are not designed for crag-style ice climbing. They are specialty ice screws best used for fast and light ascents.
The material of the teeth. Most often the tube material and the teeth material will be the same (e-climb and Petzl are exceptions).
Often, screws with aluminum tubes will have steel teeth to help with durability.
| Hanger: Cromole|
Tube: Chromoly Steel
Teeth: Chromoly Steel
The main climbing gear certifications are CE and UIAA--and normally the UIAA creates the rules that the CE body also supports. When possible, we try to list all the certifications the product carries.
To sell a climbing product in Europe, the device must be CE certified. There are no official requirements to sell climbing gear in the US. The UIAA certification is a voluntary process.
Ice screws are not certifiable below 10cm.
|CE, EN, UIAA|