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Mountain Technology - Warthog Turf Screw

Just about the only thing for frozen turf belays. Drive in, screw out.

The Warthog was originally designed as an ice screw but there are much better ice screws available these days and it is no longer recommended for this purpose. However they are still a very useful part of the winter climber’s armoury as they are one of the few devices suitable for providing protection in frozen turf.

Warthogs should be considered as marginal equipment to be used only when there is no other option. Due to the immeasurable nature of the matrix they are placed in the best that can be said about them is that they are not as safe as most other forms of protection but that they can be safer than no protection at all.

Obviously if a rock or solid ice belay is available then use it, don't rely on a marginal frozen turf belay. However, there may be occasions when there is no rock or solid ice belay available, a typical example might be at the top of a climb where, having overcome a difficult cornice, you are faced with a vast sloping or flat area of solidly frozen but featureless terrain with nothing obvious to belay to at all. Our recommendation would be to go as far back from the edge as you can, if possible getting over the far side of any slight hump you can find. Drive the point and shaft of Warthog vertically into solidly frozen turf by hitting it with an ice hammer until the base of the eye is in contact with the ground. Use two Warthogs if possible, spaced at least one metre apart and one on each rope, and also back everything up with anything else you have to hand such as ice hooks and the pick of your ice axe or hammer. Take a sitting stance between the Warthog(s) and the edge of the cliff, but well back from any cornice, and improve the stance by digging a hole in the snow to brace your feet against if possible. Clip your rope(s) into the Warthog(s) and other devices forming the belay using karabiners and clove hitches and make sure that the tension on all aspects of the belay is as equal as possible. Finally, keep the rope to your climbing partner tight at all times and instruct them not to fall off under any circumstances!

For belays and running belays mid route, as much of the above as is possible should be applied and any possible more solid runner placement above the Warthog should be utilised as soon as it is encountered.

To remove the Warthog from frozen turf, insert the pick of your ice axe through the eye and use it to turn the Warthog anti-clockwise to loosen it, then lift it out.

After use, store in a dry place where it will not go rusty. Warthogs are made of high quality steel and should last you many years of winter climbing as long as you don’t try and hammer them into rock, as you will probably bend the point. We suggest retiring them after ten years, or sooner if they show signs of damage that is more than cosmetic.

Please click for a Warthog Instructions Leaflet.

23cm overall length (18cm effective length), 189g.

NB: PPE and EU Directive 89/686/EEC
Although EU Directive 89/686/EEC has been followed as far as possible, this item is not CE tested and thus not certified PPE. This is because it is impossible to test it in use due to the unlimited variations that occur in frozen turf and the impossibility of replicating them in a laboratory, and also of the inability of the climber to discern with any accuracy how deeply frozen any particular piece of turf is.

  • However, these Warthogs are made for Needle Sports by the same English manufacturer that used to make them for many years for the renowned but sadly now defunct British firm Mountain Technology. This long established engineering works has a wealth of experience in the type of work required to produce them.
  • They are made from the best grade EN24/817M40 carbon steel available, which is sourced exclusively from European mills.
  • Prior to manufacture the bar is ultrasonically tested to check for faults.
  • Post manufacture, every screw is 100% crack tested using an electro-magnetic system.
  • On our latest batch we tested a random sample of two screws, which bent at over 25kN on a static test. The test firm tried but failed to break them.

NB!! Though every care has been taken in manufacture, this Warthog should only be used when there is no other option and is used entirely at your own risk. If you do not understand fully any of the terms used in the above instructions then you should not use this Warthog without contacting us for a fuller explanation.

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Warthog Turf Screw
£24.99 5+ in stock


Total Price

Approx: €31.85 or $40.10

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"If you are climbing somewhere with lots of turf, like Creag Meagaidh, then it's worth adding a couple of Warthogs [to your rack]... the only thing for turf."
Bruce Goodlad, Climber, January 2011.

The Warthog, which was originally designed as an ice screw by Czech climber Milan Doubek in the mid 1960s, was first manufactured by Salewa, and later by Chouinard and Camp, but as far as we can ascertain, Mountain Technology were the only company that have produced them in recent years. With the demise of Mountain Technology, and their parent company HB, the Warthog, so beloved of British and Polish climbers but so little known elsewhere, looked like becoming an endangered species. However, Needle Sports has located the engineering firm that originally made Warthogs for Mountain Technology and are very pleased to be able to offer them once again.

For more on the history of the Warthog, check out the Alpinist Website.

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