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Thread: Pitching a tent on thick ice using Abalakov threads

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Default Pitching a tent on thick ice using Abalakov threads

    One of the issues with camping on frozen lakes and rivers is how to peg out your tent. If there is a decent covering of snow you can anchor your tent to deadmen buried in the snow. Deadmen can be made from bits of wood, skis, snowshoes, shovels etc. In the photo below you can just about see where my skis are buried on the right of frame. I have also anchored my tent to my rucksacks.

    Tent secured with deadmen and rucksack anchors



    Even though my tents are of a free-standing design I always peg them out as best I can as this makes them less liable to flap and much less liable to turn into a kite should the winds pick up in the night as they often do. Special tent pegs for snow (made by MSR, Alpkit etc) are available but they tend to only work in snow that has consolidated after a few freeze/thaw cycles. I haven't had much luck with them and don't believe that they justify their not so inconsiderable weight in my pack.
    So if there's a healthy covering of snow we're OK but what do we do on pure ice? I've heard of people carrying a hammer and six inch nails, drastic but effective.
    If you're a winter mountaineer you may be carrying a rack of about 6 to 12 ice screws - problem solved.
    If you're not on a mountaineering trip then you probably won't want to spend 50 a piece on screws, and then there's the matter of their weight. The solution I use was developed by a Russian climber by the name of Vitali Abalakov - the Abalakov thread. You need one long ice screw (22cm or 19cm) and a bit of bent wire. You simply use the screw to bore out two holes in the ice at 45 degrees to each other. The two holes must intersect. The bent wire is used to thread cord through the boreholes. By using this method you can make many anchor points using only one ice screw. Obviously the screw itself will form one of your anchor points.

    Single 22cm ice screw on thick ice


    Boring the first hole


    Remove ice core from screw with 'special tool'.


    After removing the ice from inside the screw you can then bore your second intersecting hole.



    Using your 'special tool', thread the cord through the hole.


    Tie off the cord to form your Abalakov thread



    With a bit of practice you can make each anchor point in under two minutes. Special threading tools are available at great cost but I find a bent coat-hanger perfectly serviceable. Below are shots of my tent secured with Abalakov threads.

    Pulling the thread through.


    The first (windward) thread is completed.


    Tent pegged out with six anchor points.


    Nothing to see here, move along...




    Info about Abalakov can be found here.
    'Queen Victoria, very nice man'.

    https://telemarktourerdotcom.wordpress.com/

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default

    Good thread fella...excellent advice..!!
    "Everyone Who Has Not Already Done So Should Avail Themself Of The Magnificent Panorama Provided By Nature!"

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    sussex
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    Default

    how noisy were the neighbors :-)

  4. #4
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    Dec 2012
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    Cheshire
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    Default

    Excellent Bob thanks for the info,Love the camp spot ...
    Even tho I live in a house the woods will always be my home.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
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    Jachenau, Bavarian Alps
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    Default

    Abalakov - fantastic thing. I have used them ice climbing and mountaineering. Never thought to use them for my tent. Obvious when you think about it!..

    Great thread!

  6. #6
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    Default

    Great thread. Very interesting article.
    Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Default

    That looks cold and exposed!

  8. #8

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    Great idea. I usually just anchor mine with a 13cm stubby but this is definitely a more gear friendly way to do multiple anchors.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Cumbria
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    Default

    Great idea mate!
    All the best,

    Cameron.


  10. #10

    Default

    Great post that, hadn't thought of Abalakov threads in ages, reminds me of scary retreats off of rotten ice in the Scottish highlands. Hoping it'll hold.
    Cheers for posting, always good when you can apply a skill to another hobby / use.
    "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling."


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  11. #11

    Default

    Very useful, thanks.
    The mountains are calling and I must go...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    westmidlands
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    Default

    very very clever idea that, going in the mental safe. Hot tent pegs with pliers would work just as well do you think ? If you got rid of the water of course.
    A man can do no sin with his own wife,
    Nor can he hurt himself with his own knife

  13. #13
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    Dec 2005
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    Yorkshire
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    Default

    Very clever Bob

    Rich



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    North Yorkshire, UK
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    Quote Originally Posted by petrochemicals View Post
    very very clever idea that, going in the mental safe. Hot tent pegs with pliers would work just as well do you think ? If you got rid of the water of course.
    You'd need a heck of a lot of heat . . .

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