/ Which is the best ice axe for me

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L EricWeisz - on 06 Dec 2017

I'm looking to purchase a technical ice axe for this winter season. It will be my first time winter climbing and will mainly be climbing around Snowdonia and Glencoe. They will be used mostly for mixed climbing. I have been looking at either the Quarks or Nomics predominantly but am defiantly open to other suggestions.

I understand that the quarks are good up until around Grade V and then the Nomics become much better suited. As I'm starting out in winter climbing i wont be doing any of the higher grades straight away. But would like to avoid purchasing something that i will need to replace in a few years if i go up the grades. Would the Nomics be suitable for the lower grade climbs? Or would it be necessary that i purchase something like the Quarks or Vipers, and then once i reach the higher grades get a more technical axe?
Post edited at 22:08
Dave Kerr - on 06 Dec 2017
In reply to EricWeisz:
Nomics are pretty crap on moderate ground but it's not what they're designed for of course. People who climb harder routes tolerate that for the performance at higher grades but starting out it will just be a pain in the ass for no gain.

Quarks are a lot more useable on moderate terrain and certainly won't be the limiting factor in your climbing until you're well up the grades and even then the effect is tiny. I really liked my Quarks and used them up to VII which is the hardest I've climbed with any axes. I would use them again without any concerns. In fact the only reason I replaced them was that they were an older model and picks were no longer available.
Post edited at 22:31
The Ex-Engineer - on 06 Dec 2017
In reply to EricWeisz:

I'm in pretty much the same position as Dave, I climb grade VI,7 with Quarks very happily.

If I was seriously aiming to climb VIII I'd definitely look to upgrade but the axes certainly aren't stopping me from climbing mixed VII.
Misha - on 07 Dec 2017
In reply to EricWeisz:
I think Nomics are fine for easier terrain if you’re good on your feet in crampons - which you probably won’t be at first so having a tool where you can plunge the handle into snow would be useful. Quarks are more durable (no wobbly head issues which some people get with Nomics, though I’ve not had they issue), have a bigger adze and are a bit cheaper as well. Second hand ones go for good money if they’re in decent condition so it’s not necessarily that expensive to upgrade. Also consider the DMM equivalent - a bit heavy but look fairly bombproof. Vipers are ok but the adze is a bit puny.
Webster - on 07 Dec 2017
In reply to EricWeisz:

quarks (old or new) will be all you need for years to come. nomics will do you more harm than good in th short to medium term
HeMa on 07 Dec 2017
In reply to EricWeisz:

Out of curiosity, do you have any alpine ambitions?

Because if you do, perhaps getting a pair of Cassin X-Light, Petzl Sum'Tech might be the way to go. Good up to WI4 or so and stellar on lower grade alpine and mixed routes. Then get a pair X-Dream or Nomic's when you start to benefit from them (most likely V onwards)...

The newest Sum'Tech actually uses the same pics as Quarks & Nomics (previous models didn't).

The new (black) Viper also seems slick option as well (the best thing however about DB tools is that the pics all work *always* 'cept the Venom, as thye havenä't changed to system since the X-15), this really isn't the case with Grivel, DMM and BD, who all seems to change picks fastening systems every few years).
Ben Sharp - on 07 Dec 2017
In reply to EricWeisz:
The Qarks are a really nice tool, lovely swing and easily configurable to your tastes and style of climbing. As others have said ideal for lower grades right up to hard mixed routes but I wouldn't buy a petzl tool and I'm not alone in that. I got the DMM apex's a couple of years ago, they have a similar swing to the quarks but a little more curved. I couldn't bring myself to trust petzl's metal work after the way they've handled the failure of the nomics - Petzl hav shown reluctance to accept returns for nomics because they're not suitable for Scottish use so I wouldn't touch any Petzl axe with a barge pole. Maybe I'm over reacting but it's your life at the end of the day and you have to have 100% trust in your tools, if the manufacturer feels their tools are too weak for Scottish climbing then I'm happy to believe them and look elsewhere. No idea what goes with petzl's metal work but their reputation is tarnished imo and I'd much rather put my trust in DMM, BD or Grivel for axes - all these companies shout from the roof tops about how they test gear to destruction and that they care about the strength of their stuff. Having said that I haven't heard of any issues with the Quarks and they're a popular tool but why take the risk? They carry the high price tag but you don't get the support or trust to back it up.
Post edited at 07:51
Dave Kerr - on 07 Dec 2017
In reply to Ben Sharp:

> Maybe I'm over reacting but it's your life at the end of the day and you have to have 100% trust in your tools

I think that is an over reaction because there have been no issues with Quarks that I've heard of and the failure of Nomics is not sudden or catastrophic. It's more an issue for your wallet than your life.
SteveJCox - on 07 Dec 2017
In reply to EricWeisz:

I started out using Quarks then switched to Nomics after a couple of years. For anything below grade IV the Quarks would be better than the Nomics and they'd certainly hold their own up to grade VI. The main improvement I've found is that the handle on the Nomic is a lot more comfortable.
If you want something that's future proofed for the next few years you could consider the DMM Apex. They're a bit more aggressive than the Quarks so will climb steep terrain better but still have a spike and don't have an offset handle so they'll plunge well on approaches and work well on easy terrain.
One of the guy's I climb with uses the Apex in Scotland and the Alps. He seems really happy with them.
TobyA on 07 Dec 2017
In reply to EricWeisz:

> It will be my first time winter climbing and will mainly be climbing around Snowdonia

You are going to have so many other issues to worry about, like whether there will be any winter conditions in Snowdonia, before you need to worry about what's the best ice tool to get, it's really angels on a pinhead stuff. I'd get whatever pair of technical-ish tools you can for a good price and spend the rest on going to Scotland more and actually doing routes. I'd look at those Singing Rock ones that Rock+Run sell quite cheap. Believe me it won't be not having Nomics that stops you getting up Curved Ridge or similar.
HeMa on 07 Dec 2017
In reply to TobyA:

Shame on ya trying to be reasonable and not nitpick on some pros and cons of pick angles and such.
Dave Kerr - on 07 Dec 2017
In reply to HeMa:

> Shame on ya trying to be reasonable and not nitpick on some pros and cons of pick angles and such.

It was angels on a pinhead not angles on a pickhead he was talking about...
Tricadam on 07 Dec 2017
In reply to EricWeisz:

Another advantage of Quarks is that they're comparatively light, especially when stripped down.
TobyA on 07 Dec 2017
In reply to Dave Kerr:

> It was angels on a pinhead not angles on a pickhead he was talking about...

Bravo Sir! Bravo! <applause for Dave winning the internet today>
Dave Kerr - on 07 Dec 2017
In reply to TobyA:

Why thank you.
Rich W Parker - on 08 Dec 2017
In reply to EricWeisz:

Hi Eric,

It's worth noting that the shape of the tool is not as important for the actual climbing as many would think. With any reasonable axe you'll become skilled at using it.

Ergonomic tools e.g. Switch, Nomic, etc are great but there are a few significant trade-offs:

Difficulty using hammer and adze due to the curvature of the shaft.

It can be very difficult to plunge the spike in firm snow when effectively you have a jug handle
at the bottom of the axe.

You have to get quite creative to make symetric shapes when building a buried axe anchor.

You can work around all these things but is it really worth it when you could use something like a BD Viper, DMM Apex or Grivel Light Machine which are bit more versatile?

planetmarshall on 08 Dec 2017
In reply to EricWeisz:

One Petzl Ergo and one Grivel Munro. That's all your bases covered.
Wullie - on 08 Dec 2017
In reply to EricWeisz:

Hi Eric,
I can second the advice from Toby A about the Singing Rock Bandits. Im a relative novice myself, and have managed to scrape my way up a handful of routes with these. Decent for the money. I don't know if I'll ever be able to outclimb them! And even if you end up able to, I would imagine you would have had your moneys worth from them, and be able to sell them on. Cheap picks/spares available too.

Have fun.
Kirill - on 08 Dec 2017
In reply to planetmarshall:

Gretzl Mungro?
CurlyStevo - on 08 Dec 2017
In reply to EricWeisz:
I found the new petzl quarks the upper grip rest breaks easily, also the head alloy is a bit soft for uk mixed and gets bashed up easily. Personally Id go for the BD vipers at that price point.

I wouldn't go for a more technical axe at this stage if I was you. The Vipers don't really have a top grade, but I would thing you'd need to be climbing VI before it would make much of a difference comparing with nomic style axes and even then it wouldn't be huge.

That said the bandits are hard not to consider given the shape and price and reviews seem positive
https://www.totalaccess.co.uk/equipment/shop/alpine-equipment/ice-axes/singing-rock-bandit-ice-axe-b...

As for glencoe and snowdonia, not exactly the most reliable areas. Think more about Ben nevis and the cairngorms. The lakes is also a lot more reliable than snowdonia, although less reliable than glencoe
Post edited at 10:38
Mike-W-99 on 08 Dec 2017
In reply to Misha:

>Vipers are ok but the adze is a bit puny.
Mine came with the large adze but I swapped it out as TBH it was too much in the way.
angry pirate - on 08 Dec 2017
In reply to Wullie:

Basically this. Bandits are ace for the money and do me for the intermediate stuff I manage (III/IV in the UK or WI4 overseas) beautifully.
That said, mine cost a 150 notes a few years ago but are circa 190 now which is what 2nd hand DMM/ BD pairs seem to go for now.
If I were buying now, I don't know what I'd buy but so far I've never not enjoyed my Bandits and I doubt I'll out climb them!
CurlyStevo - on 08 Dec 2017
In reply to angry pirate:
Still 158 on the link I posted. But yeah WI4 is solid Scottish V water ice in good conditions. As a starting out axe that style is perfect and future proof as far as is reasonable to expect imo. By the time you are out climbing quarks, bandits vipers you won’t care about spending the cash imo, and they will help you be safe on the easier grades much better than a more technical axe
Post edited at 23:45
JLS on 09 Dec 2017
In reply to CurlyStevo:

158+vat

L 8A machine elf - on 09 Dec 2017
In reply to EricWeisz:
Nomics have served me to Scottish V with no problems from grade 3 so why not you?
Post edited at 05:32

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