The Black Diamond Whippet has been a key part my quiver of ski poles since it was first released. The new carbon version is definitely an upgrade from the original aluminum one I purchased.
This ski pole is not a daily driver, but when conditions or the line you want to ski dictate it, the Black Diamond Whippet is like anti-lock brakes on your truck. This device looks like a ski pole with a mini ice ax attached to the top of the grip. Over 5 seasons of heavy use, it’s never failed. It’s an absolute essential any time when you think you’ll encounter firm uphill travel conditions or when you’re in a no-fall zone, up or down.
Once mid-March hits and my objectives get really big, the whippet goes on most of my tours. I tried BD’s new carbon version on a tour into the high Tetons last week and can safely say it’s the beefier evolution of one of the most iconic ski mountaineering tools out there.
The new carbon version has sweet fliplock technology that makes its easy to change the length of your pole as you travel through the mountains. The biggest difference is the fact that it’s now in 3 sections, folding to almost 2 feet, making it perfect for splitboarders to take on the way up and stow on the way down..
I’ve developed the habit of holding on to the tip protector for benign travel and taking it off when there’s a chance I might need to use the tool but it would be perfect for keeping it safe on a splitter’s back. The grip below the handle on the pole is metal and won’t slide. When I skin up, I usually point the tip outwards to avoid injury and in case I need to dig in quick.
When I’m skiing down I’ll put it in my strong hand or whichever is uphill when I stop. It’s great to anchor the metal in the snow or on rock when you’re puckered or taking photos of your boys shredding with your other hand.
The tool is a great complement to an ice ax when booting up steep terrain. It comes in handy by itself on steeps when an ice ax may not be necessary, but you want insurance. I have friends who swear by the double whippet technique, although I haven’t ventured to try it myself.
If you’re looking for some extra assurance when traveling through the mountains, the whippet is the way to go. And the new carbon fiber whippet increases foldability and stiffness, making it an even stronger tool for arresting falls and a necessity for everybody, even splitters.
It’s still not a replacement for an ice ax, but it almost always comes with me even when I bring a mountaineering ax. And as BD keeps evolving its legendary whippet, it may soon catch up to the stability a traditional ax brings.