/ NEW REVIEW: Top Ice Axes - Reviewed

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Ice Axes - Montage Image, 5 kbThe UKC team looks at high performing ice axes from top brands such as Petzl, DMM, Black Diamond, Grivel and Edelrid.

If you are in the market for some technical tools, this is the review for you.

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=4473

Martin W on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to UKC Gear: Wouldn't the DMM Switch have been a better comparison to the other tools in this review, rather than the Apex? I know you mention the Switch at the end of the Apex review (which is OK in itself) but one of the values of a group review like this is that you can compare the pros and cons of a number of axes aimed at a similar market segment - and for the other axes in the review, it does a good job of that. It makes the comparison a bit less useful if one axe reviewed is designed for a different usage profile to the others - a bit like including a normal hatchback in a group test of people carriers.

jonnie3430 - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Martin W:

The switch isn't out yet, so I don't think they could. It would be nice if they updated this to include the switch when it comes out.

I was also planning on updating my vipers to switches, but reading this it seems they recommend Apex's unless I plan on lots of single pitch dry tooling. I think it's a bit too early to write the switch off as a tooling axe and not a Alpine or Scottish axe.
DanielJ - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to UKC Gear:
I would have liked to see the Trango Raptor included as well. Looks like a good axe, (at least better than DMMs at a glance) at a super competitive price.

Anyone tried it or at least fondled with it?
In reply to DanielJ: Are they for sale anywhere in Europe? Trango has always been quite hard to find this side of the Atlantic. Don't think I've ever seen their ice tools on sale before over here.
DanielJ - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to TobyA:
The swedish outdoor retailer www.northstar.se usually has some Trango stuff, but for now not the Raptor. I“ll give them a call and see if they“re planning to have them in stock. Just googling I cant find Raptors anywhere in Europe.

Found them at US sites for 330 USD/pair, if thats not a steal what is?
First saw the axes mentioned at http://coldthistle.blogspot.se/ and then on mountainproject.com ,like other nerds I guess...
nufkin - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to jonnie3430:
> (In reply to Martin W)
>
> The switch isn't out yet, so I don't think they could. It would be nice if they updated this to include the switch when it comes out.

Agreed (hint hint, UKC).

From the DMM website, it looks like the Switch is pretty much the same as the Apex aside from a slightly more ergonomic handle - plunging aside, I assume it will be as good as the Apex for what the review described, and even better for dry/mixed. Very keen to see one!
Jamie B - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to UKC Gear:

Good review, thanks for some good food for thought.
Michael Gordon - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to UKC Gear:

The Switch may not be in the shops yet but couldn't someone have got hold of a pair to test anyway? Comparing them to Black Diamond, they look more like Fusions while the Apex look more like Vipers?
iksander on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to DanielJ: I thought someone had just painted a Fusion 2 with some gold Christmas spray!
nufkin - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Michael Gordon:

Based on DMM's past form with new stuff (Alpha Lights, handled ice screws), I wouldn't be surprised if they hadn't actually made any yet!
Martin W on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to jonnie3430:
> (In reply to Martin W)
>
> The switch isn't out yet

I realise that. From the video in the article, though, it's clear that DMM have samples ready. I think it's a pity that a pair wasn't available for this review.
Ramon Marin - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to UKC Gear:

It's very brave to do a review like this. If you ask a sponsored climber what tool is best of course they'll say it's their sponsors! If you need to buy one tool that does everything, buy a nomic, fusions are way too heavy and not well balanced in my opinion. Nothing swings better in ice than a nomic with weights on. If you want a pure drytooling or hard mixed, the e-climbs cryo and petzl ergos are the bill, cryos are longer and make everything easier, a bit like cheating really ;)

The selection of tools tested is about right, i would have add cassin/camp and e-climb as well. But if you include the grivel alloy, you really need to include the ergo's and cryos. Anyways, the most important thing is technique and forearms! ;)

Happy crushing everyone
Ramon Marin - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to UKC Gear:

I should add that despite dmm having come a long way since rebels and anarchist, their pick design is still poor and the grip handle and grip rest are way behind what everyone else is delivering in terms of ergonomics and adjustability. On that note, edelrid have cracked the ergonomics better, but non-adjustable pommel is a massive problem if you want a tool for everything.

The perfect all rounder pick though would be the bd design with the strength of petzl or e-climb. Best drytooling is undoubtely e-climbs.
nufkin - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Ramon Marin:
> (In reply to UKC Gear)
>

> Best drytooling is undoubtely e-climbs.

They only sell direct, don't they? A shame, as it would be nice to feel how these compared to everything else mentioned in the review in a shop
Jimmy1976 - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Ramon Marin: what do you think the cryo's would be like on ice?
ice.solo - on 11 Jan 2013
In reply to Jimmy33:
> (In reply to Ramon Marin) what do you think the cryo's would be like on ice?

ive tried 2 types of bubus (ones with the 'S' shaft and ones with the exaggerated double grip) and they are exceptional.
i only used them on a steep ice wall, not alpine stuff, but can imagine they are less suited to alpine as they are very light (carbon) and not designed for torquing in cracks, bashing into hard ice or pioleting/daggering.
also, snapping a pick (they are very thin) would be a nightmare, even sitting in a heated cafe without gloves on they are fiddly to replace and a bizarre shape to carry.
as a minor detail, attaching them to a pack would be an exercise in itself.

but magic on steep ice (if you can afford them)

Andy_B39 - on 12 Jan 2013
In reply to UKC Gear: Aren't the 'bubus' what the grivel reparto corse axes are based upon?
ice.solo - on 12 Jan 2013
In reply to Andy_B39:

near identical.
the two i tried are here

http://www.glafis.com/hirose/ice-climbing/index.html
alasdair19 on 12 Jan 2013
In reply to jonnie3430: I;ve handled rather than used the switch and apex.

the geometry eg where pick and handle are relative to one another are allmost identical, the switch simply has an off set (ergo,nomic,fusion) style handle. the curve for both axes is near identical.

I'm particularly impressed by the far more durable picks. What will new picks cost? I'm fed up with BD £40 a pop....

there are far more similar than say the viper and fusion.

Buy Welsh!
ice.solo - on 12 Jan 2013
In reply to alasdair19:

likewise have fumbled them in the shop (theyve made it to japan). seem nice.

this season ive climbed mostly with fusions. i lost one nomic (1st gen) so replaced it with a new gen one and im not impressed. all sorts of tiny differences that added up dont float my boat: the pommel issue obviously (you can even see the crappy looking metal work...), then the silly scalloped thing. the handles a bit longer too, which when combined with a small change in geometry between the handle and the pick tip - they just dont have what they once did.
or maybe its me (4 seasons/approx 150 days on them may have made me picky, ho ho).

fusions are heftier, but resolve the niggling issues with nomics and they punch into ice much better. i miss the nomic handgrip, but appreciate the molded upper grip over the $3 tennis racquet junk petzl use.
nomics are nicer to hook with if its that sort of thing, but if im on virgin ice or steep/overhung stuff needing a bit of juice, fusions win for me.

ive also used reactors a bit this season too and they are damned nice tools - other than for heavily featured ice requiring the clearance, id take them equally to nomics.

truth be told, i find nomics and cobras to feel identical. screwy due to the different shapes, but balance, weight etc made no noticeable different.
akhughes - on 12 Jan 2013
In reply to UKC Gear: As part of the Edelrid team I have used the Rage axes for 2 seasons and would definitely not refer to them as the budget choice, despite their price. I have used them almost exclusively without the head weights on Ice up to Scottich VI and Mixed VIII and could not tell the difference. The head weights are helpful on the days when the ice is very hard or brittle.
I do have small/medium hands, but have had no trouble with a thickish glove like a ME guide or Randomee.

Hope this adds a little more to a quite comprehensive review.

Adam
Hughes Mountaineering
iksander on 12 Jan 2013
In reply to ice.solo:
> (In reply to alasdair19)
>
> ive also used reactors a bit this season too and they are damned nice tools - other than for heavily featured ice requiring the clearance, id take them equally to nomics.

Reactors - agree, very underrated tools
DanielJ - on 12 Jan 2013
In reply to iksander: They might look deceivingly similar but the swing and balance is supposed to be way better than the Fusions. For ice that is. And they“re quite a lot lighter than the Fusion and half price.

Although I love my Nomics and rate them higher than any of the other axes I“ve tried the Raptors gives me a kind of "need to have-feeling". Too bad I dont know anyone whos going to the US, again 330USD/pair is a real bargain!
In reply to iksander: I've had reactors now for over 6 years (feeling old!) now. They seem really bomber to me. Maybe not for over hanging rock, but really for what 90% of us do - perfect.

My review from 2007 www.lightfromthenorth.blogspot.fi/2007/02/black-diamond-reactors-review.html (Vipers and Quarks mentioned in the piece are of course the first gen. of both).
DanielJ - on 19 Jan 2013
In reply to TobyA:
Ive spoken to the guys at www.northstar.se and theyre willing to order Raptors in their next order from Trango. Shipping Will be a couple of weeks, price will be surprisingly low. 2700/pair or 2600/pair if 2 pairs are ordered. 1300 SEK/axe equalls something like 115£ so Its a extremely competetive price for ą axe thats supposed to be among the best of the bunch.
In reply to DanielJ: That does a very fair price. Are there many reviews on US sites yet of how they climb?
DanielJ - on 21 Jan 2013
In reply to TobyA: Not that my googling skills can unveil. Only found this
http://coldthistle.blogspot.se/2013/01/trango-raptor-ice-tool.html?m=1

That was enough for one of my friends who just ordered a pair. Im however rather cash strapped so cant justify it. Oh well, at least Ill be able ro try them

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