Everyone that winter climbs in Scotland will know the horrible crunch as an ice screw grounds out on rock. However delicate you are this has a severely detrimental effect on how sharp ice screws remain. In the past there were two ways to re-sharpen ice screws, firstly they could be attached with a file. While a file is cheap, I have always found this method to be very time consuming and also I have found it difficult to get a good finish. The alternate method was to use a grivel ice screw sharpening machine, however this costs money each time and isn’t suitable as a sharpening method prior to each trip due to having to send ice screws off for sharpening.

I was very excited this summer when I heard about the Petzl Lim’Ice as it would mean that I could quickly and easily sharpen ice screws while on an extended trip to Scotland without having to faff around with files while tired. However, when I discovered that the RRP for the device was £60 I was disappointed. Despite the high price I decided to make the plunge and buy the device due to the benefits I thought I would get from it.

The device is very simple, but well thought out. There is a plastic handle which holds the file, attached to this is a sliding component which has two holes which are guides for the ice screw. These guides align the ice screw so that the angle between the ice screw and the file is always constant, one of the guides sharpens the top edge and the other sharpens the vertical edge. In addition to this the file is able to be rotated to get further use out of the single file supplied when one side has worn down. Another big advantage of this tool is that it is compatible with every type of screw providing that it has the same configuration as modern Petzl ice screws personally I have used it with BD Express ice screws.

Petzl Lim'Ice Tool

Petzl Lim’Ice Tool

Sharpening ice screws is very quick and easy, which makes it a worthwhile investment for me. There are however some downsides with the tool: Firstly after sharpening a number of screws it is painful on the hands due to having to hold the threads. Secondly you need to be careful not to remove too much material from an edge as you cannot see the edge while the screw is being sharpened, it’s only the point that is important and not the entire top edge. Thirdly initially it can be tricky to sharpen the correct points, however this can be mitigated by using a dry wipe marker on the edges so that it is easy to see where you have sharpened.

Ice screw in Petzl Lim'Ice tool

Ice screw in Petzl Lim’Ice tool

The big question which has caused many debates, is it worth £60? In my opinion it is not worth £60, however in the absence of anything better, and due to hating using a file I am happy with my decision to purchase this tool. Hopefully in the coming years other manufactures will create similar tools and bring the price down.

Conclusion

Advantages:

  • Simple to use
  • Quick
  • Good end result
  • Compatible with most ice screws
  • Much easier than a file

Disadvantages:

  • High cost
  • Easy to remove too much material
  • Painful on the hands due to ice screw threads

Overall the tool is excellent, and will complement any winter climbers toolkit to ensure that ice screws are always sharp. It does however come at a cost, so you need to decide if £60 is a price you are willing to pay for some plastic and a file! I am happy with my purchase.

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