/ Ice axes - what's your favourite technical axe?
Cheers... all views welcome, although views from the real world as opposed to shop swinging and/or internet fawning will be given higher weighting ;)
<settles in with a pack of crisps for the ensuing flame war>
Vertiges for me (you youngsters will need to google it). After climbing hardish routes with my walking axe in one hand and a terror in the other, they were a revelation. I suspect things have moved on though....
Mike - tell me again what it was about the Apex that you didn't get on with. I'm working out what I think of the Switches, and there's a something about the head shape/shaft angle that means sometimes the head bumps into the ice stopping the blade from biting properly that wouldn't happen with my old tools. I suspect it's only a problem on not very steep ice which they're not really designed for though.
Taa-K-oon for me skipper had them years now and not let me down. Strong as a bull but slightly heavy comapred to new stuff. In good ice they alway hit home first go :O)
So far I've had mountain tech technical axe and hammer. Super robust, beautiful quality forgings but didn't like the spike, especially the newer plastic ones. The i had x15s. Cracking tools. But the grip rolled up when plunged. Great swing but my knuckles got brutalised by the straight shafts. Then i moved onto old style cobras which i still have and which are ace. I also have some grivel light wings I got for cheAp and modified for leasess which is in reality what I use most of the time. Super light, super robust, strong picks. Do exactly what youd expect. I so have dmm apexs. For me they're ok but i find the extreme crank a bit much. The pick places badly when pulling over the top of an ice fall because the angles are so extreme. I cant say i've had a problem with lesse cranked axes. They place well enough the rest of the time and the handle is comfy. Your go.
Pretty happy with my old Rebels, meaty and tough.
Old Skool - Chouinard Zero's, but had to be bamboo. The dogs gonads.
Well I started off with old DMM flys, climbed water ice up to wi5 with them, I hadn't used anything else so ignorance was bliss I then tried and bought black diamond vipers (current version) and they just felt right. The swing felt more natural and would stick on most first placements, everything just felt easier with them. Going leash less also made the climbing so much more enjoyable, only thing I've not tried with them is dry tooling.
Just got a new pair of nomics (they were a bargain, couldn't say no). Only used them on indoor ice wall so far and I really like them apart from the pommel which even after the update I think is a big weakness. I prefer more alpine routes so will prob keep the vipers and just use the nomics on ice
Only tech axes I own or have tried (so hardly a comparison) but I love the simplicity and ruggedness of my Pulsars. I feel like they could last a 1000 years and still keep going. Not the lightest mind you!
Got some BD Black Prophets. Now there is a bit of robust steelwork for you.
Tends to make people living near fault lines a bit nervous when they are in use.
Heavy but they inspire confidence.
B/D Cobras for me lovely to swing and no cold hands, I did love my old
Yeah I agree. If I got into water ice climbing no doubt I'd want something new, light and shiny just for that, but I wouldn't ditch my pulsars for the world now they have grip rests.
pre 2011 petzl quarks. only technical tool I have really used but they just feel soo nice in every use, from holding the head, to daggering, to full on dry tooling (granted the re-straightened handle is limiting on the really steep stuff, but it creates a more natural swing on anything vertical or less). only downside is they no longer make the replacement picks...
Bd Fusions, they feel solid and the only way that they'll ever limit my climbing is if I want to dig a bucket seat.
I can't stand the viper which most on these forums love, the swing doesn't seem right for ice or snow.
Modified petzl aztars were the best mountaineering tools I ever got to use, nicer than the dmm fly's or grivel offerings.
Can't see myself replacing the fusions until they break.
I would second that. I really liked the I-beam construction. Goes in generally first time with a solid "thwunk". Also like the dual trigger style grip. The flaky paint finish could have been improved.
Not sure why DMM ditched them in favour of petzl clones
My black diamond fusions have been excellent so far!
Lots of votes for the Fusions. So what is it about the fusion that makes it brilliant? And what's wrong with it - however small it be...
I believe the votes are for the green Fusion 2 (not the original orange one).
In essence I like the green Fusion a lot. The pick system BD uses is rather easy to use. The swing is pretty good even for pure ice (should be better with the new Fusion Ice -pick, but haven't yet tested it so can' say for sure). And they preform rather well, when dry tooling.
The main problem with Fusion 2, id the weight (compared to say Nomic), but it really doesn't matter that much. The other 2 flaws are the swing, which can be a bit problematic on steep and hard ice, when you start to get tired (Nomic weight distribution and/or swing feels much more relaxed or easier), when you're tired). Perhaps the new pick will fix this. The final flaw is the lower grip, it is really tight for your pinkie, especially with thicker gloves... nothing that a few minutes with dremel won't fix though.
1x Mountain Tech Technical - +ve, classic engineering -ve, not a banana.
1x Charlet Moser Blackbird - +ve, looked like a ninja weapon, swung well -ve fixed blade and heavy.
1x Simond Chacal - +ve, great adze, looked old school hardcore, -ve funny length, blade top made plunging uncomfy.
1x Simond Piranha - +ve, new skool hardcore, green, comfy head; -ve the bolts could snap, bendy blades.
2x Charlet Moser Pulsars - +ve Jeff Lowe had them for Octupussy, yellow, first actual matching pair of tools I owned, good on ice and mixed. -ve yellow paint fell off, not much else though! http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=22919
2x Charlet Moser Quarks - +ve full bent shaft, comfy slim handle, comfy head. -ve not much, after about 7 seasons of hard use they started making some weird noise in the handles, some rivet might have sheared, but still fine to use. The head bolts are made out of soft cheese and strip when you try to undo them. http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=40555
2x BD Reactors - +ve swing great, elegant simple design. -ve non really besides, bottom handle could be a bit more aggressive, I'm too weak for leashless climbing. http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=60804
2x BD Vipers - +ve, good, solid all-rounders, good head. -ve not much really. http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=161107
2x DMM Switch - on review, only had them for bit - still deciding.
Aztars, but only because the handle is small enough for my hands to feel comfortable on and the swing felt right.
Mashes my knuckles on ice, not a very good adze, but good for my current level .
Quarks as they are good all round axe. I liked Nomics on cascade ice but they seemed a little radical for alpine.
I still like my Grivel matrix techs. They make nice paperweights given the total absence of ice in the perma-November....
I used to love the vertige extreme.
Yes the Vertiges were the DBs in their day. I progressed to Barracuda and Chacal and happily climbed Canadian V (probably Scottish VI) so I still have them. Mind you I don't winter climb now, so they are museum pieces in my garage.
Because they're low weight, low cost and look brilliant - the Edelrid Katana Pro.
Sadly no longer on sale.
I reluctantly sold my vertiges on earlier this year. Airline bag weight was the main reason. I had a couple of spare picks too, so they would probably have done me for another decade with the amount I do.
Starting back in the mists of time - thankfully, time has brought improvement:
MSR Eagle - skinniest pick you ever did see on an axe.
Some laughable Salewa ice hammer - just abysmal
MacInnes Terrordactyls - mashed knuckle hell, but in a different league to the curved bladed competition.
Forrest lookey-likey Terror - same same; but twice the price and many times prettier.
MacInnes Scorpion - laughably bad
Snowdon Mouldings Curvers - nice, but absolute sods to get out.
Chouinard and Interalp Zero - solid
Stubai - Nanga Parbat? the green ones - head too small
Clog Condor - blade too deep (top to bottom), and scary thin when filed down.
Clog Vulture - curved Terrors really - great for hooking but a mashed knuckle nightmare on anythng else. The whole head used to fall off the early versions of the hammer.
Simond Chacal - a revelation. Mashed knuckles a thing (mostly) of the past
MT vertige - pretty much the same as a Chacal as far as I was concerned
Charlet Axars - another step up
BD Reactors - as far as I've got - great all-rounders for me, with big hammer and adze. My favourites so far, which is just as well, and I have specifically avoided trying Nomics in case I like them (but they are missing useful bits in any case).
Friend had a pair so they were first pair I tried and they just felt right.. Right angle for handles to grip, right nooks to allow several different holds. Just the right swing.
I did look around but nothing seemed even close to the bar as I got my own pair of nomics.
Yeah, but then getting them out again is a bit of a mission. They are lovely and sturdy, though. It's just a shame the trigger had the weird bulky bit behind
Only owned 2 sets of climbing axes, but my DMM switches are lovely, DMM Flys are my others, i'm in Rjukan Norway right now, and done 11 routes with the switches and found them to be solid and sink into the ice very well with monir glancing blows.
Camp Golden Eagles for me. Why were they so good ?... they were my first pair of real climbing axes and got me up routes i'd be scared to look at now. Although thats probably due more to my lack of climbing activity and ability at present. Used to really trash my knuckles... i always felt like i'd done a few rounds bare knuckle boxing after a day ice climbing
Sorry, have to call this every time I see it, "The swing is pretty good even for pure ice". Tried every thing with this tool, persisted with it, filed the hammer, weighted the pick, tried flicking, not flicking half flicking you name it. I saw a top roper use 16 swings to get a stick, he was a novice but it wasn't his fault they wouldn't stick. Lent him my Grivels, he was way happier but kinda pissed as well. They work on mixed though.
Camp golden eagles, borrowed, felt like a proper mountaineer...but in reality already historic
Camp hyper couloirs, borrowed, sexy purple felt like the young pretender that I was wielding them. In reality crap, over complicated heads which the bolts had a habit of unscrewing themselves....always good for a bit of added entertainment mid pitch.
Cassin Antares, brought second hand, thought I'd scored when I saw Cubby on the TV demolishing Mega route X with a pair. In reality you had to be a powerful god (like Cubby) to wield these heavy monsters. Either Cubby was making a statement climbing that route with such tools, or perhaps he was too strapped to replace them....utter respect to smoothly climb long steep ice, without a moment of upper lip wobble, while flicking a couple of club hammers.
Grivel light wings, multipurpose, light, strong, good pick choice either bomb proof for mixed, or sweet on ice (once filed - pigs to get out if you use as supplied). At home alps, cuillins or steeper scottish......even take one for a winter walk. but they're not for top end technical. Plus if the bolts start to loosen the whole head is still serviceable. Why oh why did grivel stop machining this head and pick set up.
I guess the whole leash less thing has passed me by..........yes I'm more lapsed than old school, or new trickster. So light wing it is.....
My old Mountain Technology pair did me sterling service over many years, but the DMM Rebels I'm currently using to gradually chip away at Scotlands mountains are just peachy...
I started with some DMM Predators, I got them at the factory shop for £75 and I thought they were amazing (having never climbed ice before) I sold them when I was a skint student.
After a long break from winter climbing I got some Nomics, looking back the Predators were terrible in comparison but thats progress. The Nomics are great tools, perhaps not a great walking axe but they do most stuff very well.
My current favourite are these..
But then I would say that.
Past sets (Something by Camp, Vertige, Charlet somethings), were all straight shaft, weighed a ton and would stick into the side of a Chieftain Tank...........then I went all posh and with it and bought myself a pair of Camp Woodpeckers, what with their funny shaped shaft, weighed the same as Kate Moss in her prime and even looked like a Woodpecker if you had a bottle of wine and squinted your eyes!
Unfortunately, the resemblance to little ol' Woody didn't end there because they were about as much use as woodpecker shit on a climb also :-/
Stubai ashenbrener and some useless hammer, aarghhh.
Pterrodactyls, a new level of freedom on steep stuff but crap on soft ice / snow and killed the knuckles. Good bucket of an adze though. First foray into leashes
Stubai hidden peak / rural, fibre glass shafts with no grip and picks so meaty they wouldn't penetrate any kind of ice.
Camp golden eagles, first tools that "felt modern"
Grivel alpwings first curved tools and quite a revelation
Bd vipers (new style), just light years ahead and now leashed or leashless on same tool
Tried fusions, quarks and nomic 2but happy with the vipers
Thanks. I've got a bit more development to do before they're ready but they climb really nicely off the drawing board. Very similar to a Nomic swing wise but a bit 'softer' feeling. Maybe more a pure ice tool than a dry tool workhorse.
We had several people at Ouray who wanted to buy the prototypes to put on the wall.
DMM Apex, just ace.
i agree - very nice looking tho i might be tempted just to have them on the wall...
DMM Flys then got some Monster Xs for my first euro-ice trip then tried some mod'd Superflys (they were a bargain) with a trig-rest on to attempt to get a 'whole mountain tool' but got a lovely birthday pressie this year of a pair of new Quarks from Mrs Lardbrain. Owing to work, etc only used in the garage so far but maybe if the Lakes gets cold...
Had (still have)old MT Technical axe and hammer, probably most versatile tools I've ever had. I followed them up in the early 90s with a pair of the original Vertiges with the broad adze in the axe. They were excellent. I had a pair of Alp Wings some eight years back and found the grips just too thin for my liking which was a major disappointment as I'd hankered after them for a while before buying.
No longer active, but amazed at where technology has taken the axe and hammer in the last 10 years.
But they always get them right.
Vertiges - would be an excellent trench raiding weapon. Less good on water ice
New Vipers - hardly new anymore but brilliant all rounder. Still have them.
Grivel Master Alloy - one ice trip. Felt like a fat goalie in gold boots. Amazing as soon as you get to 75 degrees or more.
Climb Tech Fly Hook - used a modified pair for dry tooling. Really good well balanced and light. Guide friend reckoned them to be the best water ice tool he'd used.
Cassin X Dry - very light, similar geometry to Nomic but easier to swing (i think)
Still struggle with ergo handles for routes where you swing rather than hook/pull. Most likely a technique issue but seems to me that no other swung tool/equipment has a handle....? Golf club, tennis raquet, hammer, fly rod.
For me my pair of pink Simond Piranhas, (the colour was very important!) Looking back though I think it was the routes I did / people I was climbing with / the whole discovering winter climbing that I did at the time with these tools, rather than the tools, that make them my 'favourite'.
I've been back out playing again a little over a year.
I have a pair of Vertiges and a pair of Piranhas.
but I'm old school
Really like my Cobras, just not that practical for Scottish Mixed due to the oversized shafts, so keeping them mostly for pure ice routes.
Bought a pair of Nomics recently - love them.
My first set of axes were grivel matrix lights. I bought them doing everything properly, test swinging etc, tried them on a ice wall, loved them. Then I used them for real. They were too light and the straightness annoyed me. I sold them after 4 days out.
I then bought some vipers, just because they looked pretty. I loved them. Everything from pick, hammer, adze, shaft as grip just screams tough. large shaft for my big hands and just the perfect amount of shaft bend for what I do. I just wish replacement picks didn't cost so much.
I bough some nomics, because everybody raves about them. I took them drytooling for a day and spent the entire day terrified they were about to snap. Quickly sold.
I borrowed a friends old rebels once. The picks felt really weak, the double trigger just didn't work in my mind and the axe felt sort of unstable if that makes sense? Not that it was about to come apart, almost difficult to aim?
But vipers? Just brilliant.
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