Which Ice Axe Do You Need?
Spring is almost upon us in the Alps, and it’s time to start thinking about spring and summer alpinism. Unless you're sticking to pure rock routes with no snow approach, you will need an ice axe. So, we thougth we would take you through a few of our favourite ice axes for different purposes from the EpicTV Shop.
Ice Rock Idol
First up, is the Ice Rock Idol. This is a ridiculously cool carbon fibre axe. It can be used for general mountaineering and less steep climbs, and would be a perfect ski mountaineering and ski touring axe. This axe takes fast and light to a new level as its only 188g and made almost entirely of carbon fibre. The adze (used for scraping away snow for placements, digging steps or bucket seats) is fully titanium, so light and strong.
The spike is made from aircraft grade aluminium with a titanium tip, while the pick is made from steel alloy, so no chance of that breaking.
Having a carbon fibre shaft not only means the axe is very light, but it also retains heat from your hand, so great in cold conditions. The carbon fibre is also very efficient at dampening vibrations when you swing your axe.
The Petzl Quark is a tool that can be used on both technical climbs, and easier glacier walks; a true all-rounder. It weighs only 460g without accessories, so is a great axe to bring if you are only going to need a single axe.
The curved shaft allows you to climb steep snow, but still allows you to be able to plunge the axe into the snow while walking. The bottom of the axe has a spike which, again, improves the plunging performance of the tool. The grip is designed to fit ergonomically into your hand even with thick gloves on, and there is an adjustable trigger rest for grip comfort and performance.
You can buy the Quark with both hammer and adze: The hammer is perfect for hammering in gear, while the adze is great for digging out cracks, snow bollards, and anchors.
If you are going to buy an axe for almost every eventuality, this is the one for you.
The Petzl Nomic is a fantastic technical mixed and ice climbing axe. It is also used by many people for steep overhanging dry tooling. The shaft is curved to achieve maximum clearance on steep ice, while the handle is adjustable and offers multiple grip modes depending on the terrain you are attacking.
The new Nomic has a modular head, which means you can now add a hammer to it. Perfect for hammering in gear placements or clearing snowy cracks.
The aggressive pick allows for maximum penetration into the ice, and the whole axe is nicely balanced for a precise swing. The shaft features a rubber grip so you can easily pull up on the axe or swap hands.
Ueli Steck uses this axe in most of his fast and light ascents of huge alpine and Himalayan faces, so if it’s good enough for him…
The X-Dream axe is really lightweight but has a lovely feel to it, with enough weight in the pick to swing well. Attention to detail can be seen throughout the X-Dream: The picks are laser cut, while the head of the axe has been hot-forged for strength, with a small hammer on the head to add the perfect weight for thin, brittle ice.
We like the extra grip material on the bottom of the shaft, and combined with the trigger rest, it allows you to perform some big pull up moves.
One of the most exciting things about the X-Dream is its versatility: The handle can be adjusted with an Allen key to switch between dry and ice angles. The ice angle gives you a natural and balanced swing, while the dry position maximises the hooking and torquing angles when dry tooling.
You can further refine the X-Dream handle by adding finger rests and inserts to fit your grip preferences and hand size. This axe comes with mixed picks as standard, but you can buy ice picks and race picks for dry tooling.
The Cassin X-Dream is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a technical tool with the ability to excel on a variety of different terrain types.
Black Diamond Raven
The Black Diamond Raven is a bombproof yet lightweight axe, designed for alpine climbs where two technical ice axes are not required.
Sometimes you need a walking axe that is easy to plunge into the snow and support you on steep terrain, whil also giving you the option to self arrest in an emergencie. The spike at the bottom ensures that each plunge sinks the axe into the snow, and secures you if you happen to trip. The raven has an aluminium shaft and a stainless steel pick that is set at the perfect angle for self-arresting, as well as a sharp point and serrated teeth for biting into the ice and snow.
There is a built in adze that is great for digging out snow belays or even steps and seats. It also provides a great grip when walking.
This axe is designed to last you for years, and is a fantastic investment if you intend to venture into the big mountains.