/ Which Ice axe

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Bloodfire - on 01 Sep 2014
I'm looking into getting an ice axe and have a small dilemma for which I could do with a bit of advice.

I largely wand a walking axe but for steeper ground as I'd usually use poles for flatter stuff so I know I want a short one 50-55cm. rather than a more traditional 'hold by your side and it be just of the ground or by your ankle or whatever'.

I'd also eventually like to get some more technical axes for lower grade winter climbs.

The question is, should I just buy something like a DMM cirque or Petzl Summit and get the hammer version a bit later or should I invest early and get something like the Quark adze and get the hammer version thus just keep a pair.

Do people have a dedicated walking axe and then the climbing tools or is it just a case of getting the technicals and using them for everything.

I'm at the point at the moment where I can only really get one axe and will probably use it for winter walking.
Skol on 01 Sep 2014
In reply to Bloodfire:

Tricky one. You need to define whether you will be mainly walking with it or 'climbing'.
If you're walking with it, you will want one that's not far off the ground, or you will be in bad posture and risking a tumble.
I use a 65cm which is a good compromise. You can still go up gullies with it.
I tried using a 55cm Mountain Technology axe as a walking axe, and it was practically useless except for steep up hills.

Bloodfire - on 01 Sep 2014
In reply to Bloodfire:

In the UK for people who use walking poles. Do they still have a long walking axe or do they stick to a shorter axe? I seem to use poles more for shallower slopes but I can imagine using a longer axe on steep slopes is hard work. I have little experience of using a short axe on steep slopes but no real experience of using a longer one generally.
Jasonic - on 01 Sep 2014
In reply to Bloodfire:


Most people seem to get one about 55-60cm- for walking doesn't matter but for steeper stuff something like the Summit with a steel head works better.

altirando - on 01 Sep 2014
In reply to Bloodfire:

I did most of my climbing with what would now be called an oldfashioned axe, Camp with a laminated bamboo shaft. For casual use I have a beautifully designed Raven Ultra 58cm axe that is very versatile and also light. Worth looking at?
purplemonkeyelephant - on 01 Sep 2014
In reply to Bloodfire:

There's a few axes out there that are modable so you can take trig rests off and change from an agressive pick to a mountaineering pick etc. There's always some sort of compromise though, but it could work.

Don't BD do an unrated pole with an axe head for emergency self arrest? I guess it all depends on the routes you want to get on more.
needvert on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to Bloodfire:

I've been wandering around show snowing (non-UK) with a quark and a walking pole. Time will tell if I'm a fool or not, but I just couldn't justify getting a longer axe.

Ironically I regret not getting something more aggressive than a quark, being prone to TFCC injuries a more natural position when hanging off the axe is much better for my wrists.
Camm on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to Bloodfire:

I like the grivel munro, keep it simple and light. Check out the weights, mine is about 54cm, I'm 510 don't use poles and it' s spot on. Although I don't often use it as I'm usually using 2 axes.

I think the dmm and BD axes are heavy, the camp ones look good.

cb294 - on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to Bloodfire:

Quarks are useless as a walking axe, you will have to get separate ice climbing and walking axes.

I can recommend Grivel for both, I especially like the slightly curved shaft of the Grivel Airtech Evo. If you are walking only, something lighter (any ski touring axe) will probably do as well, as you donīt need a T rated shaft.

J_Trottet - on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to Bloodfire:

Grivel Air Tech is what you're looking for.... There's a hammer version as well you can get and the two will keep you happy for grade II style climbs. Best option is to get designated climbing axes and a walking axe though.

Walking axes a fairly cheaper than climbing ones so you can get one now and look for a good deal on a pair later.
nutme - on 02 Sep 2014

I would use walking axe for climbing sometimes, but not climbing for walking. Climbing ones are shorter and not so convenient for top grip.

It's a good idea to get a second handed axe from eBay or here. Usually they go for 1/2 of retail price and have a lot of life left. Thing is that it's very personal and first axe will be just a gateway to learn that you truly need.

As for the length of the walking axe general rule is to stand straight with arms down. Spike of the axe should be just above the ground level, but not touching it. But some people like to have 5 - 10 cm clearance. It's personal.
Post edited at 11:37
RyanOsborne - on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to Bloodfire:

I think in general a walking axe does better for climbing (certainly up to Grade 1-2 Scottish type stuff) than technical ice tools do for walking. I'd get a Cirque (or other equivalent), then when you want to get onto steeper stuff get a hammer version or grab a second hand pair of flys.
Bloodfire - on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to Bloodfire:

I'm liking the cirque and the grivel evo tech. Might have to work out the length issue on them as the hammer versions of both are only available on shorter lengths.
HeMa on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to Bloodfire:

Depends on your budget, climbing ambitions and locale.

Get pure technical axes, if you plan on climbing technical routes (prolly scottish IV upwards). For snow slogs and mellow glaciers, you can use trekking poles (until the snow is steep enough to warrant axes, when the technical tools will also work)).

If you plan on doing lots of mellow snow plods, get a walking axe or move a lot on snow covered glaciers that require crossing weak snow bridges. Then get also technical tools, when the climbing requires it.
Bob_the_Builder - on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to Bloodfire:

I've been looking at the DMM Raptor for use similar to what you describe. It has an adze and hammer version (def go for adze for the first one) and I believe you can use the Fly picks with them.

Don't stick with just tech axes for everything unless you're on a very tight budget. Older style axes would have worked but the new ones just don't have enough of a spike. A Quark with the pommel rest removed will not stab through neve (I tried so you don't have to!)

Walking axes are usually fairly easy to sell on second hand so If you find yourself not using it in the future you can sell it off again.

If you are very keen to move on to winter climbing rather than walking skip the Grivel Munro and get something with a bit of a curve and maybe the potential for a more aggressive pick for easier ice climbs, but make sure for now that it does have a proper spike. (Air Tech, Raptor)

Alternatively if you expect to end up doing ski touring, long easy alpine snow routes, or lots of walking in future investing in a lightweight walking axe may be worthwhile, but tricky to know what you want without trying out a few in various conditions. (BD Raven/Ultra, Camp silly lightweight paper mache jobbies)

I got a 70cm walking axe for my first axe. It was good at first but as I got more adept with crampons it became mostly unnecessary on flat ground and annoying on steeper stuff. Moved on to an old Fly (50cm) for walking since I had it and wasn't using it for climbing anymore. Sometimes a bit short and ended up leaning over a lot while walking. I'll probably aim for 55-60cm for my lightweight axe for ski touring.

Remember that you don't need matching axes to climb. My friend routinely climbs grade III with a Cirque adze and a Quark hammer. Other people prefer a straighter hammer because they are easier to hammer with, and get a more aggressive adze tool.
Chris Huntington - on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to Bloodfire:

I had a cirque which is a really nice axe and also not bad for low grade technical ground. Great axe and cheap too.

When I moved onto higher grade stuff I bought a pair of flys, and now if i'm winter walking I just take one of the Fly's.

To be honest if I was you and you're just starting winter walking I would just pick up a cirque and see how you get on. You'll save yourself a bomb.

You can probs pick one up for £50, a pair of Quarks you're looking at £300+
KellyKettle - on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to Bloodfire:

For my money I'd go for a DMM Cirque or a Grivel Jorasses 2.0 (60 quid at snow and rock currently).

I'm currently after a walking/light climbing axe myself (Missus wants to do some winter walking this year, and I'm *NOT* using my reactor adze if I give her my trusty old stubai) and I've basically narrowed it down to those two because they were cheap, and I'd used other peoples before and liked them, the Spring leash/Slider combo on the Jorasses is IMO a killer feature.
Hat Dude on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to Bloodfire:

Similar to the DMM Cirque and worth looking at is the Climbing Technology Alpin Tour which you can get at around Ģ55 from several places
Bloodfire - on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to Bloodfire:

Ok. I can get the bd ravens at half price from snow and rock at the moment so could buy both. 57cm I think or dmm cirque pair for a little more. Or the super expensive grivel air tech which seems out the picture now really.
needvert on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to needvert:

*Show snowing = Snow shoeing I mean. I post from my phone a lot...

Bloodfire - on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to Bloodfire:

I Lied, I can get BD Venoms at half price or the DMM cirques I reckon it will be one or the other.
The Ex-Engineer - on 02 Sep 2014
In reply to J_Trottet:
> Walking axes a fairly cheaper than climbing ones so you can get one now and look for a good deal on a pair later.

That would be my advice.

In fact I'd suggest trying to pick up something cheap off ebay. Even 10 year old mountaineering axes are still perfectly fine to use. Something like a Mountain Technology Alpine Axe would be ideal.

As regards length, I certainly prefer longer (c.65cm and I'm 178cm/5'10") and I don't find it an issue on slightly steep snow slopes as more often than not I'll then be 'daggering' and holding the head of the axe rather than swinging it above my head. As an example, I climbed Tower Ridge in winter in 2009 with a classic 67cm Chouinard-Frost axe and found it absolutely ideal.

Although one thing to consider is what rucsac you will be using. If you will be using something along the lines of a tall, slim 50l+ mountaineering sac with a fully stiffened back then carrying a longer axe strapped to it will probably still work well. However if you use something smaller, lighter and less supportive, you may find it more awkward to carry something fairly long.
Bloodfire - on 03 Sep 2014
In reply to Bloodfire:

At the moment I'm considering whether to get the b rated venoms or the t rated cirques. As I can get them both at pretty much the same cost.
Bloodfire - on 04 Sep 2014
In reply to Bloodfire:

I'm thinking stick to T rated for UK Conditions

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