Black Diamond Whippet revisited
I have had about a solid year with the Black Diamond Whippet and thought it would be appropriate to do an update from my initial impression.
Like any piece of equipment, we become accustomed to; it’s uses, it’s limitations, and it’s effectiveness. I have actually come to rely on the Whippet more than I thought I initially would. It has become an integral part of my equipment. It does of course depend on what I plan to do, the route, the ascent, and sometimes even the time of year.
During the mainstay of the avalanche season I tend to stay in lower elevation terrain and off of steeper aspects. However, in the spring, when the snow begins to consolidate I find myself quickly changing patterns and finding couloirs and higher elevation lines. It’s in this type of season I find myself almost constantly with the Whippet.
I do still find couloir approaches caning with an ice axe to be most appropriate – not that it is right or wrong, it’s just my comfort zone. I have actually used an axe in one hand for caning and the Whippet in the other for balance on some couloirs. The times I have found the Whippet to be most useful is on steep skin approaches – especially those with long ascents on steep angles or switchbacks with crust. If you take a fall, the idea is of course, to arrest that fall before you get going too fast. In these scenarios it just isn’t practical to have an axe in hand while touring.
I have also found it appropriate on descents, usually retracted. It has certainly given me a piece of mind in a few places, and has become that essential piece of gear.
Light Modification (from two-piece to three-piece)
I have modified mine in to a three-piece collapsible from the two-piece. Each generation appears to have it’s own diameter, but on the same note – you can find parts from Black Diamond for each generation here. My Whippet is the 2012 version – with a light blue handle. I like the ability to collapse it the same way I do a trekking pole – as has already been discussed. The problem I have with the Whippet (all models to include the upcoming 2014 in the aluminum model), is it only retracts to 38″ (97cm) vs. the Black Diamond Trail Shock trekking pole which retracts to; mens: 26″ / womens 24″. Rather than hack things up with a saw, you can simply swap out the lower portion of the Whippet with the two lower portions of a trekking pole. Again, you can find the various mid and lower pieces directly from Black Diamond.
- The 2010 Whippet has a 16mm lower, with an 18mm upper.
- The 2011 & 2012 Whippets have a 14mm lower & 16mm upper.
I use the Black Diamond Trail Shock Trekking Poles  which have the same upper and lower specifications as the 2012 Whippet. I was also given the 2012 Women’s Trail Shock Trekking Pole to use a comparison – and it also has the same specifications of upper and lower and can be used interchangeably.
2013/2014 Black Diamond Whippet Preview
The 2013/14 Whippit will be orange and black on the grip top and will have a few changes;
There is a carbon version in three-sections and the aluminum version in two-sections.
- The hand cheeks on the upper portion are more pronounced, which provide a better handgrip for caning (cane mode).
- The pick is virtually the same design, including the canard wing. New in 2013/14 is stainless steel vs. chromoly so you will get zero rust. This has not been an issue here in Colorado, but I would imagine in Alaska and coastal states would notice this as a huge advantage where there is some salt in the air.
- Another new addition is a grip located about 14″ (35cm) from the top. This allows for more of a cross-body self arrest that is congruent to ice axe self arrest.
- Just as in the 2012 Whippet, the flick lock mechanism (Flicklock Pro) is the steel variety which typically holds stronger than the plastic variety found on trekking poles.
- The 2013/14 Whippet is still a two-piece variety in the standard tempered aluminum model. Collapsed the whippet length is 38″ (97cm), and can be expanded to 55″ (140cm). The carbon Whippet is a three-piece model which collapses to 28″ and can be expanded to 55″.
- The force created by gravity acting on a mass." class="glossaryLink " target="_blank">Weight is 15oz. Shaft body is aluminum, hard anodized in a subdued grey resembling powdercoat.