How to Make a V-Thread

June 17, 2018 11:30 pm244 commentsViews: 64

When 19th century Russian climber Vitaly Abalakov invented the V-Thread, also known as the Ablalakov, it radicaly changed the comtemporary beliefs surrounding ice strength and its integrity as a soild material. By simply drilling two opposing holes with an ice screw, and creating an equalized triangle by threading rope, cord or webbing through the holes, a very strong and long lasting anchor point can be devised quickly with minimal material. When you are in a pinch up in the mountains and things don’t go as planned, when properly constructed this practice saves gear and provides a safe way to exit the situation.

How to Make a V-Thread

Start with a long screw. A 22 cm ice screw is ideal, but use the longest one available, and if all you have left is stubbies, consider leaving them along with the threads.

Look for a patch of good ice, taking time to clean off layers of rotten stuff, evening out a level work area somewhere around 12 square inches. Place the first screw in at no more than a 45 degree angle either up or down. If down, plan on placing the pother screw below it, it up, above it. Tests show that V-Threads in a vertical orientation are most strong. Once the first hole is drilled , use the hole to visually line up the second. With two screws, it may help to leave the first screw in the hole to help sight the second. The idea is to intersect the two holes.

Drill the second at another angle, and make sure they intersect as far back as possible. The deeper the intersection, the stronger the anchor.

V-Hookers

Once the holes are in place, it is nice to have a hooker ready, to pull the cord or webbing through the holes. A hooker can be purchased or can be made from a coat hanger or stiff wire. Simply put it is a wire with a hook at the end. When spending any time in the mountains climbing ice, a hooker should be on the rack at all times.

Start by inserting the cord into one hole, and the hooker in the other. By sight or feel, when the hooker can grab the cord, gently pull it through, and choose a knot to tie off the cord. Remember, the knot is to equalize and anchor or hold a rappel system. Make it a good one.

Twice as Nice

A properly constructed V-Thread has been proven to hold more force than a contemporary, $60 ice screw, rated at 10 Kilonewtons. A Kn is about 225 lbs. At 2250+ lbs, a V-Thread can hold its own and is an excellent skill to have in a climber’s bag of tricks.

If the ice is questionable or time isn’t a concern, making two is better than one, so long as they are far enough apart not to weaken each other. Horizontal orientation is not ruled out, but a vertical “stack” is more ideal. Two good V-Threads can be good for as much as 4,500 lbs!

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