poles ??

bitoffluff

Posted: Tue, Aug 6, 2019, 20:34

How much % of the north part of the GR20 is rock and scrambling ? I find it difficult an dnot helpful to use poles on rocks and they get in the way of scrambling. If there is a lot I will not take my walking poles so will save weight and not carry them. Thanks



Argonaut

Posted: Tue, Aug 6, 2019, 23:05

I can't give a % figure, but there's quite a lot.

It's a personal choice but I would not have been able to manage the North section in such good form if I hadn't used poles.

I saw quite a few people who obviously hadn't thought about to use poles properly, struggling unnecessarily.

Being able to use your whole body to drive yourself uphill and to brake going downhill is a game changer.

I would suggest getting comfortable with them.The Carbide tip bites into rock nicely, even at acute angles. There's no valid reason to not use them, in my opinion.

If you pinch the shafts of the two poles with a thumb, you still have the rest of that hand to grip chains when climbing. On around 8 occasions, for a few seconds at a time, I put my poles aside so I could use both hands to properly grip chains or to grip a rock face. The rest of the time, I relied very heavily on my poles.

Just my 2c.

--

"Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?"
Norman McCaig



bitoffluff

Posted: Sat, Aug 10, 2019, 19:37

thanks Argonaut - as you say tricky call seeing it is a personal thing. I guess the downsides are - 1 the faff of either stashing them for scramble sections or using your pinch technique, 2 weight to carry when not in use, 3 I find they skitter off angled rocks. So for me only seem to help on either flat rocks, scree or turf so if anyone has a % guess that would be really useful.



SQFP

Posted: Sat, Aug 10, 2019, 20:22

Real scrambling (when you have to use your hands) is uncommon even in the northern part,probably less than 1% over the whole GR20.

Using poles is a matter of personal taste - they prove absolutely necessary to some people (those carrying a heavy load, or with aching joints, or in need of balance...) but a disturbance or even hindrance to some others.
Even on flat ground the path is predominantly rocky, narrow, or uneven: you'll have to pay constant attention to where you place your feet (...and your poles on top of that). I'd say 25% of the GR is of the "very easy" kind, with a flat or well-defined or sandy path, like this: https://imgur.com/a/YO5jtRH

--

Geologist in Corsica



Argonaut

Posted: Sun, Aug 11, 2019, 21:02

You're welcome :)

A useful exercise can be to don your pack and walking gear, then stand on scales with your poles on the ground and pull down with your lats as if you are about to drive off the poles (but without moving your feet) and note how much lighter you appear at that moment. If it's a significant difference, your knees, hips and lower back may benefit over long distances. If not, then ... meh :) That may help you to make a decision?

Have a great GR!

--

"Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?"
Norman McCaig



bitoffluff

Posted: Fri, Aug 23, 2019, 14:13

really helpful, thanks. Think I will take poles then - they are just a total faff on bouldery ground slipping off and getting jammed between, but 25% at least where they will eb useful, especially where its a descent will eb a help with a pack.



Argonaut

Posted: Tue, Aug 27, 2019, 20:33

You're very welcome.

On the question of slipping, are you sure the tips are made from Tungsten Carbide? Are they new or worn out? Mine aren't particularly new or special, but they bite into even the hardest rock (to date, for me, that has been Corsican granite)... I don't fully understand how slipping could occur. I'm willing to be educated of course :)

You mention using poles 25% of the time (corresponding with SFQP's assessment that 25% of the GR20 is very easy). I don't think this relationship makes sense. Using his judgement that you will actually need both hands free for less than 1% of the Northern section (I agree)... I would argue that poles help more than 99% of the time if you learn to use them well.

It's worth finding the most relaxed way of holding them and of picking a length that will naturally mean they contact the ground at an angle behind you and of finding an efficient rhythm (left foot, right hand... right foot, left hand) and ingrain it so you don't need to think about the motion at all.

I watched a load of YouTube videos on using poles and concluded that most of them are rubbish. You don't need to shorten them for uphills and lengthen for downhills as many suggest, since on the GR20 you would be constantly messing. Modify your grip instead. I put my palms on top of the handle for very steep downhills and grab further down the pole for really steep climbs (this can be aided by having longer handles, but I find no problem in just grabbing further down the Aluminium hard for a few seconds at a time).

For the most part, keep your arms bent (and the handles close to your body) and pull down and back mostly with your lats. When your hand enters the strap loop from below, as well as reducing the likelihood of breaking your thumb when you fall, it allows for a light grip of the handle and much of the force can be applied via your wrist to the strap. This brings the point to which force is applied, around 10-15cm closer to your body (so saving energy) and is less tiring on your forearms than if you were to just grip the handles.

Hope that helps :)

Bon vent.

--

"Who possesses this landscape? –
The man who bought it or
I who am possessed by it?"
Norman McCaig