I have been waiting (like many) for the 3 piece whippet to add to their kit. I can only say that Black Diamond's attempt at the 3 piece whippet has some issues. They designed the lower section with a significant taper starting roughly 1/3 the length of the shaft. This means that when you attempt to lock the whippet closed at it's shortest, the lower flintlock will pop open and wont engage because of the tapered shaft. Adjusting the tension on the flintlock does not solve the problem because it will not lock when the pole is extended.
I own a black diamond contour set where this doesn't happen (on the left in the picture). It appears that black diamond took a step backward or just were not paying attention when the designed the 3 piece whippet. You can see from the picture below that the whippet must be extended significantly in order to actually lock the lower section.
So this error brings up all sorts of issues. In your pack you will have the lower section oscillating up and down. This may not seem like a big deal but I dont need any extra moving parts in my pack nor do I want the open flintlock there to catch on things. Or, you can lock it a bit longer and now you have a collapsed 3 piece pole which is similar to the length of their collapsed 2 piece pole. Also, say you had to traverse a slope and use this as an ice axe? BD clearly says the whippet is not an ice axe, but what if you were stuck and had a whippet as your best resource. The lower section must be secured at the long length which makes it too long as an ice axe for most people. Also, I had the horrible experience of lending this to a buddy and watching him walk away with it unaware to its shortcomings. He collapsed the pole and as he traveresed the slope I saw the lower section sliding in and out. I was scared for his safety and realized how big BD's design mistake may be for somebody in the mountains. I am really hoping that they provide an exchange program for the lower pole section where we can send it in and get a replacement that doesn't have the taper. If anyone knows why BD decided to design the 3 piece whippet this way, please reply back as I would love to get a explanation for their design choice.
Thanks for the info! I have to say that I like the lower three piece whippet in your picture with the other style of clamps. I have found those to be pretty bullet proof, low drag in snow and have never popped open by accident. How did you create that 3 piece whippet?
Thanks for the info about doing the mods. I am still not happy that I have to modify a $140 pole. I think for that price it should be a bullet proof design that is well thought out. So here is what I got from emailing Black Diamond:
"Thanks for checking in with us about this. The taper on our traditional-round lower shafts is a bit more elongated than what you see on your Contour Elliptic lowers that you’ve used for comparison in your forum post. The taper on the elliptic shaft is more abrupt, which we’re able to achieve in the manufacturing process on an elliptic-shaped shaft. We’re not able to taper the lower as abruptly on our traditional round-shafted poles, unfortunately, hence this small amount shift between the mid and lower when fully collapsing the pole. None of our field testers complained about this being an issue while we were designing this unit, but that isn’t to say we might not see this addressed in future models. I don’t, unfortunately, have a replacement lower shaft which you could swap the Carbon Whippet’s lower out with where this wouldn’t continue to be an issue on your end, however."
I will let you decide what you think of the response. So I was going up a slope for a hunt recently using the whippet collapsed to engage the slope in front of me. I had engaged the lower section at the 100 cm mark which I thought was far enough up to hold. Unfortunately it was not and the lower section came loose and rolled down the hill.
The lower section rolled down the hill and took a while to find.
So my fears were proven right even though I was aware of the problems with the whippet. I feel really sorry for the guy who heads up without knowing about this problem in the design.
But I do need to be fair to the whippet.... I have recently accessed terrain with much more confidence. It is an indispensable part of my mountain kit in my opinion. On 12/1 my buddy and I were accessing a mountain here looking for mountain goats. We separated for a little bit and he did not return after about 10 minutes. I went back to look for him and found that he had fallen on what appeared to be a benign slope made up of a mix of snow and exposed earth. I went down to check on him wondering how he could have possible slid on such a mellow slope while wearing crampons. As i descended with my bd contact crampons I suddenly slipped and started to pick up speed. It was then I realized that the surface snow had become spring like and lost its cohesion while the subsurface snow was still ice. I rolled on my stomach travelling over snow and patches of exposed slick grass and used my whippet to stop me in about 100 feet. I had escaped injury but my buddy had not as he seriously split open his leg after somersaulting down the slope. The whippet had worked wonderfully and did exactly what I bought it for. I was in mellow terrain with a mix of ice and snow where an ice axe really seemed like overkill. But because I had the whippet I was able to avoid injury simply because I carried it with me to replace a hiking pole. So I commend the whippet as a safety tool and look forward to when Black Diamond modifies the lower section to make this the ultimate backcountry pole.
Well more disappointment with the whippet. I broke the lower section of the pole. Its all a matter of opinion but if you are me you say that the carbon pole was weak. If you are BD, they might probably say I was too hard on it. Somewhere in the middle lies the truth. So I had my local shop contact BD about a replacement lower section and....... its not available. Not just out of stock, but they just havent made any extras for replacement. So i will be using an aluminum lower section as a replacement. Sigh, that lower section on the BD 3 piece whippet ruined a good thing. But, good news is that the Grivel Condor is available for sale in the USA! I picked one up and really like it! I will post a review soon and link it here.