Technical Ice Axes
Whether it's for Scottish mixed, Continental ice or drytooling, a pair of technical axes are your key weapons. In this comparison review seven models go head to head.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Apex is the delightful swing action – we have spent a lot of time perfecting the balance of this tool to make sure you hit the sweet spot every time you strike.
The removable pick weights allow you to further fine tune the balance and customise the axe to your liking. Some climbers prefer to leave them off and go lightweight, especially if they are on a big route. The weights do give extra punch, which helps the pick to penetrate hard ice and minimises dinner plating. The bevelled off shape also sticks well in rattley hooks or torques on mixed ground.
The radically curved shaft provides a comfortable, ergonomic hand position and impressive clearance around bulging ice or turfy ledges. The curved shaft also helps if you are daggering on easier angle snow as it allows you to keep your hands out of the snow, and therefore stay warmer.
The rubber moulded handle is both grippy and highly insulated. We supply a roll of grip tape to customise the top section of the shaft for higher grip positions. The hooked hand rests provide support and protect your fingers from impact.
The Apex can be fitted with a choice of hammer or adze matched with an Ice or Mixed Pick. These come as very strong, one piece T rated units, which bolt securely into the headset. Removal or fitting is simple and easy, and best of all, a full replacement pick – hammer/adze unit only costs £30.
The Compact Hammer is carefully angled to allow effective use regardless of the steep curve of the shaft. The neat wedge shape allows for deep constricted hooks, plus the potential for improvised mixed placements.
The Compact Adze is great for cleaning hoar frost or snow from placements quickly so you can find hidden hooks and runners. Its neat shape also provides more torqueing options.
A Mountain Adze is available too – this larger design works well on big routes where more varied conditions will be encountered and ledge cutting may be required.
The standard set up for the Apex is with an Ice Pick. This gives excellent penetration in ice but it is also a superb all rounder which performs very well on difficult mixed ground. Alternatively, the Mixed Pick has a steeper angle for aggressive hooking on really extreme mixed terrain.
The serrated top edge of the pick gives better grip and stability on ‘stein pull’ or deep torque moves. The tip of the pick has been carefully shaped so that it can easily be sharpened into an effective profile – this means that the pick will last for longer. We have also improved the heat treatment process to make the picks more resistant to wear.
The Apex was designed to be used in the modern leashless style, with strong, durable upper and lower rests. For those of us scared of dropping tools there is the option of matching them up with an elastic DMM Freedom Leash. Traditionalists may also prefer to use a standard leash system.
Winter climbing, especially when there is any mixed climbing involved, places great stresses upon equipment; ice tools in particular need to be tough and strong. The Apex is a reassuringly bomb proof piece of kit. It has the DMM T Rated Integrity Construction (TRIC), which means a strong build quality throughout the axe.
Where the shaft meets the head and the handle you will find double rivets. These joins are also glued in for extra strength and security. In addition, the glue provides a waterproof seal which stops water ingress and the potential for internal corrosion.
The high strength clipping points at the top and bottom of the axe can be used for classic winter belaying techniques.
The Apex is a brilliant technical ice tool which gives impressive performance on hard icefalls, modern mixed routes or big mountain routes. Get yourself a pair and climb with confidence.
Read the UKC Review of the DMM Apex Ice Axe
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