/ need advice on ice tools, thx!

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L BlackPowder 05 Jul 2019

Hey everyone,

So I could use some advice on ice tools. I started ice climbing last winter, really loved it. I planned on getting my own tools for next winter, was gonna get a pair of dmm switches. I always liked their gear, heard the switch is a good all round tool and also really durable which is very important to me.

However now I have a chance to get a pair of BD fusions. They are in a nice mint condition and the price is really good (?), around 150 GBP. However they came out some time ago (2009) and I heard there are better tools just for ice climbing. Which is what I wanna do, mostly steep ice.

So now I am not sure, go for the good deal on the fusions? Or save up some more for other tools. Are the fusions still worth getting for ice climbing?

Thanks a lot guys for any advice!

Cheers,

Fabian

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HeMa 05 Jul 2019
In reply to BlackPowder:

There are better tools for steep ice than either Switch or Fusion (2).

Camp/Cassin XDream is about the best tool for ice I’ve used, and really good for mixed & drytooling. New Grivels are supposed to be good as well. As are the new BD Reactors. 

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Big Lee 06 Jul 2019
In reply to BlackPowder:

The original Fusions were notoriously bad on ice but a great mixed axe. I wouldn't even be considering Switches for ice either with so many better options around. If it's second hand axes that you're after then Tech Machines might be a good bet as they're been around for a few years and are pretty robust.

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olddirtydoggy 06 Jul 2019
In reply to BlackPowder:

Just out of curiosity, are you travelling abroad for the steep mixed ice routes or hoping for the conditions here next season? Reason I ask is some friends often talk about getting into 'ice climbing' here (UK) but are beginning to understand that much of what we do here is 'mixed' winter climbing. If it's strictly ice you're after then that's great but just wondering what your perception of Scottish/Lakes winters are. That said, with a name like Fabian you could well be posting from Germany. Good luck with your climbing.

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L BlackPowder 06 Jul 2019
In reply to olddirtydoggy:

Hey guys, thanks a lot for your responses, pretty helpful already.

olddirtydoggy, you are not wrong I'm not from the UK, i'm actually swiss. I saw some good content on this forum which is why i registered. Like I said im just getting into ice climbing. This past winter I climbed in the bernese alps around Kandersteg which has some pretty good steep ice, I'm sure I'll find more the more I climb =)

Maybe not <strictly ice>, I would just say the main goal is ice climbing. If I get some rock contact in multi pitch routes I dont mind. I just not that I start out with the goal of doing just hard mixed. 

The grivel tech machines sound pretty good. I'll look into them, but which new Grivels do you mean HeMa?

Are the switches that bad for ice climbing? I just really liked the durability. I had some shiny light gear fail on me during touring, worst thing ever. Ever since I'd rather carry a bit more for some added saftey. 

thx, Fabian

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TobyA 06 Jul 2019
In reply to Big Lee:

> I wouldn't even be considering Switches for ice either.

They're not that bad! 

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HeMa 06 Jul 2019
In reply to TobyA:

You’re right. About the same as green Fusions. So certainly not great. 

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HeMa 06 Jul 2019
In reply to BlackPowder:

Tech Machine or the carbon fibre version. 

That being said, of all the ice tool manufacturers Grivel has been the worst. They have redone the picks and attachments now at least 3 or 4 times. So when your tool breaks the stockpile of spare picks might not fit any models available at the time. 

DMM have done the same once and Petzl a few times (in around 10 years or so). BD still uses the same pick attaching that their first tool had (x-15).

for where you’re based, perhaps a quick hit to IT and Camp/Cassin factory outlet for some XDreams might be in order. Great on ice and also really good on rock. 

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Takein 06 Jul 2019
In reply to BlackPowder:

Hey Fabian. The Fusions are a good tool. I've actually climbed on them. Often people are critical on gear based on reviews they've read rather than first had experience. At that price I would absolutely go for the Fusions. My first tools were Grivel Alp Wings and I lead WI5 on them before investing in a new pair. So don't overthink it. 

I've climbed on Nomics and X Dreams and both were good. X Dreams are really good! I own BD Fuels now and I love them too. If I was buying a new set of tools today I would go for the BD Fuel Hammer or the X Dream – whichever had the best deal.

If you can get to one of the ice climbing festivals or comps this winter loads of the gear manufacturers loan out tools for free that you can try for yourself. If you're investing in a new pair, trying before you buy is by far the best way to find out what works for you. 

So if money is a factor, just take the Fusions. Look after them and you'll sell them again later down the line without losing too much money. By which stage you'll know what you really want/need. Or if money is no object, you can't try before you buy and you want something shiny, just drop the cash on some X-Dreams.

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TobyA 06 Jul 2019
In reply to HeMa:

Have you used any beside mine a couple of times years ago? :-p

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HeMa 06 Jul 2019
In reply to TobyA:

Nope. But it was enough. And like 5 years ago ;)

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asteclaru 06 Jul 2019
In reply to BlackPowder:

I'm not a particularly good or experienced ice climber (only started this year), but for steep ice I really like the Black Diamond Reactor.

I've also tried/used BD Vipers (last two generations) and BD Fuel (looks a lot like the Fusions to me). Oh, I've also handled/swung the latest Nomics but the handle seemed too thin and insubstantial to me so I didn't actually climb anything with them (they did swing and stick nicely, but I much prefer the Reactors)

Out of all the ones I've tried, the Fuels are definitely the worst for ice (awkward swing and also too light-headed so it takes forever to penetrate hard-ish ice).

The Vipers are very good all-round tools, but I prefer the previous generation (the golden/orange ones)

On steep ice, the Reactors are head and shoulders above the Vipers, but on lower angle/bulgy ice they're a tad more annoying as the offset handle gets in the way. I've never tried the X-Dreams, but they're supposed to be very similar)

I would say that if steep ice is your main goal, then something offset (like the Reactors) are worth it. When I got my first set of tools, I thought I would get something less agressive to begin with (and bought some Vipers) because I felt that offset tools would be 'too much for a beginner like me'. But, the first time I tried some Reactors I just liked them so much that I had to get some. Climbing is just so much easier/less pumpy with them.

Post edited at 19:14
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L BlackPowder 06 Jul 2019

Hey guys,

Again thanks a lot for all the responses, really interesting and helpful.

A few more things that have gone through my mind:

A lot of reviews said the old fusions didn't do great just on ice. Could the tools performance on ice be improved by using a different pick? For example, with krukonogi picks, I think they are known for making good ice picks.. 

Also, when doing some research on the BD Fuel Hammer tools, I stumbled across this review:

https://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/snow+ice/ice_axes/technical_ice_axes-9964

According to this review the BD Fuel Hammers weigh 691 grams. The BD website says 655 grams. Has the tool been updated? Or is BD marketing them lighter than what they are.. 

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brunoschull 07 Jul 2019
In reply to BlackPowder:

Hi.  First, I think that Fusions at that price will be great for a season or two of ice and mixes.  Go for it.  Yes, they are not ideal for pure ice--I had some and then switched to X-Dreams.  But Fusions could certainly be improved with new picks, for example, the new Black Diamond picks, which have a more open pick angle.  There's not way for you to tell how it will work out for you until you climb with them for a while--hence my advice, buy them for a good price, use them for a while, and then see how you feel.  Especially with some improved picks, I don't think they'll limit you.

Also, I live in CH, I climb ice every year, in the Bernese Overland, in Graubunden, in Valais or France or Italy.   I'm also looking for partners for ice (and mixed and alpine).  Send me a PM if you're interested.  brunoschull - at - gmail

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L BlackPowder 08 Jul 2019
In reply to brunoschull:

Hi bruno, thanks, yes i think i will just try the fusions .. which pick from black diamond is the new one you meant could improve the fusions?

And yes, definitely interested, would be great to climb ice sometimes. Im out of town today, will email as soon as im back tomorrow. 

Cheers, fabian

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HeMa 08 Jul 2019
In reply to BlackPowder:

Ice pick, Ice+ pick or the older Fusion Ice pick. 

Also Kruko or Kuznia ice picks are solid options. Kuznias are the cheapest. Krukos (in armorsteel) the toughest. And BD picks are spendy and perhaps a tad softer than Kuznias, but since they changed the picks for Ice and Ice+ I’m not 100% certain. 

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L petermartinez 09 Jul 2019
In reply to BlackPowder:

You can use Kuznia ice picks they can be of good experience.

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Big Lee 09 Jul 2019
In reply to HeMa:

I ordered a set of picks from Kuznia but the drill holes were slightly off and hence the picks were unable. Think I'll try Krukonogi next time. 

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Bwox 10 Jul 2019
In reply to HeMa:

>  New Grivels are supposed to be good as well

I got to handle some Dark Machines a couple of days ago - they seem really promising, and the best Grivel tools I've come across in recent years (though that's just based on holding, not using).

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