Looking for a good do-it-all pair of ice axes. Hoping to use them for a mix of scottish winter (up to around III/IV), ski mountaineering, summer alpinism, etc. I'm also currently just a poor student so not really able to get multiple pairs right now.
Currently considering either the Blue Ice Akila or the BD Venom LT. The Akila has the advantage of being a tiny bit longer at 49cm (better for walking perhaps?) while the Venom LT is a bit shorter at 45cm but has a replaceable pick (better for longevity?). I've also been considering the Petzl Gully as it's the lightest of the 3, although doesn't have the spike or replaceable pick so perhaps the least versatile. I could also get some combination of them. My thinking is that if I ever do get into the proper hard stuff in a few year's time I would just get a pair of Nomics or equivalents, but for now these three options are the most versatile. For reference I'm 185cm tall.
My main question is; are these as good as some of the reviews seem to imply for the more technical scottish climbing, and will they be suitable up to grade III or IV? Or am I better off sacrificing the weight/versatility and just spending the money for a pair of Quarks?
I'll second the Quarks idea. DMM Flys come up for sale now and then. I haven't use the but a friend had some and liked them, I recall thinking they were quite light. 2ndhand is the way to go, you may get something on here or eBay.
Is it your first season? I've borrowed a Petzl Gully with an Aztarex to climb an M4 WI3 (around Scottish V 6 mixed into IV 4 ice) , and the Gully really surprised me at how good it was. For climbing ice it felt totally different to pretty much any other axe I've used- it's so light that you can't let the weight of the axe do the work, but if you swing hard it will bite nicely. For mixed, it was also surprisingly good, but I wasn't going to try torquing it. I immediately bought a Gully afterwards. FWIW my main climbing axes are apexes.
Will a Gully climb well for a couple of mixed routes? Absolutely. Will it survive multiple seasons of regular mixed? I wouldn't bet on it. I'd think of it as high performance in all aspects, but will only last if used sparingly. In other words, it's no work-horse. There will also be techniques that won't be available to you, like stein pulls and torquing.
I haven't tried the Blue Ice. I don't think the venom is as nice a tool as the Gully personally, but it does tick a lot of boxes and the replaceable pick is a huge bonus.
If you really are on a budget, if I were you I'd pick up a pair of cheap second-hand climbing axes and get a gully for ski mountaineering/ alpinism/ light use if you can afford it. A brand new pair of quarks would also be a great option, though I suspect more expensive than my other suggestion.
You could go light with the options you suggest or a Petzl summit. Bear in mind light comes at a sacrifice and in this case durability. Most of those axes have B rated picks which can't be replaced so the question will be, how much technical climbing are you planning on doing with them?
Considering that I've easily worn through a pair of picks in one season, that would put me off.
As the above posters, get quarks. It's not as light as you can go but very versatile and you can buy a light ski/mountaineering axe down the line.
I really like my Camp (though mine are badged Cassin) x-lights, for a use profile like yours. They’re probably a small step down in technicality from quarks, but better for general mountaineering, and usually significantly cheaper. If you manage to find the optional more technical handle with the pinkie rest, they’ll also be more versatile again.
I prefer a mountaineering axe with a sliding trigger rest as the most common mode I’ll use them in is a high daggering position.
NB, I’ve got a gully as a ski touring axe; it’s surprisingly capable, but I definitely wouldn’t use it as a main mountaineering/climbing axe. Good as a spare though.