Personally I'd go for leashless axes (ie curved axes with a clip in point for lanyards on the pommel, a lower grip rest and possibly an upper grip rest), ideally you want something like the new Vipers or quarks, however previous gen axes that have been modded for leashless will also be fine.
I think the new Vipers are more robust than the new quarks, specifically there are durability issues with the upper grip rest on the new quarks.
Buying second hand has advantages that the axes are more likely to retain value than buying new in case you don't really get in to winter climbing.
I started winter climbing last year on borrowed axes and purchased a set of Grivel Matrix Light from Go Outdoors for £160 recently. They still have them at £90 each and I'm sure you could find a 10% off flyer somewhere.
They're similar to the DMM Fly, so ideal for up to at least grade V I reckon. Not as technical as Vipers or Quarks, but would be better for use when walking/traversing.
In reply to Hat Dude: I disagree - If the OP wants to climb ice not just grade 1 gullies. I don't see the point in buying a DMM Raptor to just need more axes yet again in a year or so. Personally I wouldn't buy a walking or Alpine axe unless either I intended to go to the Alps in summer OR I was intending to do a lot of winter walking.
When I started out I went straight for quarks, didn't buy any more axes for many years, never regretted it!
Personally I would advise the OP only buy axes with geometry similar to the grivel matrix light or DMM fly second hand, as he will probably want to sell them in a few years anyway and upgrade to something better suited to leashless climbing.
I agree. I've got a collection of about 20 axes accumulated over the years from Stubai Aschenbrener (spelling might be off) to Terry's to Dmm Flys. But I recently bought the new Fly to replace my old ones and then realised that if I'd bought Raptors and Fly picks I would effectively have both for the price of the Fly (if you see where I'm coming from). So I think your idea gives scope for progression and Raptor is a good axe if you end up in the alps or for general mountaineering.
To be honest, I found that the more technical quarks were better at doing easier climbing, alpine stuff, walking stuff than the less technical flys, which is why i sold the flys.
However the quarks are on the expensive side, the grivel matrix lights are excellent all round axes though and probably on the cheaper side.
There is one substantial flaw that makes the DMM flys poor for easier angled routes.
In reply to jamescook: I started with matrix lights because they were cheap and have used them for 3 seasons up to grade 3 without any problems. I think it depends where you live and the activity you plan to use them for. If you live in Scotland and you will get the chance to do a lot of winter routes and progress quickly then go straight for technical tools. If you live in england and will use them more for a mix of walking and limited easy climbing in the lakes and wales then a more realistic choice like the dmm fly might be better. I love my matrix lights because they are really light and easy to place but on the flip side they lack the penetration of heavier axes.