Moneting: (pron; mohnay-eng) Noun, Slang. Def: Being so close to something to see details but too close to see the whole picture.
At Furnace Industries, we are guilty of Moneting. We knew that passing the 'T' test with a wood shafted ice tool was a huge deal. But we did not know that, surprisingly, most climbers have no idea what the 'T' on their tools even means.
In the few weeks since we released the KRONOS, we've received overwhelming media inquires, requests for hi-res images for blogs, price point comments, a venture capitalist inquiry, a Norwegian in-flight magazine profile, and loads of questions about what a 'T' rating is. Elsewhere on the interwebs, we've actually been called 'hipsters' (if you met us, the last thing you'd call us is 'hipster') for allegedly not having the good sense to know that wood ice tools were the norm when Chouinard sold bamboo tools. However, none of good ol' Yvon's tools, or any tool made of wood from back then or since has passed the 'T' rating.
The KRONOS is not the first tool made of wood. It is the World's First 'T' Rated Ice Tool Made of Wood.
It's a big deal. The testing involved in a 'T' test would blow most wood tools to bits. But FI Co-Owner George Fisher figured it out, and it's genius. So what does the 'T' on our ice tools mean? It's something every ice and especially mixed climber should know as our lives depend on it!
The 'T' Rating
The T rating has to do with the CE Safety Certification that all ice tools must pass if a company wants to offer an ice tool for sale. CE certification helps you choose the correct ice axe. CE (Comité Européen de Normalisation) is a European group that develops and maintains equipment standards. On an ice axe, look for a circular CE stamp that will have either a capital B or T in it.
-General mountaineering axes are designated with a B (basic) stamp. These are generally lighter, less expensive and less durable. Basic axes are NOT strong enough for technical climbing!
-Technical ice axes and ice/mixed climbing tools are designated with a T (technical) stamp. These are generally heavier, more expensive and more durable.
On technical ice tools, picks and shafts are rated separately. It is actually quite common to have a CE-T shaft with a CE-B pick. A CE-B pick is thinner, penetrating pure ice better; a CE-T pick is thicker and stiffer and works better for mixed climbing. The KRONOS comes with a B rated pick. A T rated pick more suitable for mixed climbing is available.
Diving Deeper into the 'T' rating
If you want to really nerd out, keep reading...
Tools that receive a 'T' rating have to pass 4 physical tests: .9 Kn pull at 90° to the shaft of the tool, 3.5 Kn pull at 90° on the center of the shaft, 4 Kn pull at 90° on the head of the tool, and a 182 N Pick Deflection Test.
Note that for one of these tests, the load is almost 900 lbs. (4 Kn is 899 lbs)
This diagram should help:
So that's the easy part, and also the part where most ice tools' lives end.
Next, the company (Furnace Industries LLC) must provide all the technical information the CE lab (SGS UK) requires to certify the tool (KRONOS) conforms with the harmonized standard EN13089 for Category 3 Personal Protective Equipment. This involves extremely thorough document called the Tech File which details our materials and methods used in producing the actual tool, our quality management system, and description of our system of production and testing that guarantees the consistency of the tools produced.
There is a Factory Inspection. A representative from the lab physically inspects the FI shop to make sure our methods for producing the KRONOS ensure consistency for each tool we produce.
There is rigorous vetting of the Tech File. The lab requires FI to write up the technical details about the KRONOS. The lab inspects this document and makes sure that the file contains all the technical information it's supposed to. Included as part of the the tech file are the instructions included with the tool when it's sold. The instructions must have all the appropriate safety information, notes on care and storage, and definitions of the required marks that are on the tool (company name, model name, batch labeling definition, the 'T'...)
After all that testing is done, inspections performed, and tech file errors fixed, all fees paid, the lab issues a CE Certificate that certifies the KRONOS passed the 'T' test. We framed ours.
So, that's what a 'T' rating is. If you've read this far, it's because you're super smart, you understand that climbing really is in fact dangerous, and you want (like all climbers should) to know as much as possible about the gear you're trusting with your life.
-Ben Carlson, FI Co-Owner