6 Best Ice Climbing Axes of 2023
Ice climbing is a thrilling and difficult sport requiring specialized equipment to guarantee safety and success. One of the most critical pieces of gear for ice climbing is the ice climbing axe, which provides the necessary grip and stability to scale frozen waterfalls and ice-covered peaks.
This article will look at the best ice climbing axes on the market. We’ll go over the most important factors to consider when buying an ice axe, such as shaft length, pick design, and leash choices. We’ll also talk about the distinctions between technical ice axes, mountaineering axes, and hybrid versions.
Top-rated ice climbing axes from major manufacturers such as Black Diamond, Petzl, Grivel, and others will be included in our comprehensive review. Each model will be evaluated based on performance, durability, and value for money, with comprehensive pros and cons provided for each option.
This blog post will assist you in selecting the best ice climbing axe for your requirements, whether you are a beginner or an experienced ice climber. We will offer expert guidance and recommendations to assist you in making an informed choice and having a safe and successful ice climbing experience.
What are the Best Ice Climbing Axes?
Here are my top selections for you to choose the best ice climbing axe you’re going to need the next time you go ice climbing.
1. Petzl Nomic Ice Climbing Axe ($320)
The Petzl Nomic Ice Climbing Axe is an excellent ice climbing tool, particularly for those who expect precision, versatility, and efficiency from their equipment. It is designed to function efficiently in any type of ice, making it an excellent option for climbers who tackle a variety of ice formations.
The Nomic’s ability to place effectively on any type of ice is one of its most notable features. Whether you’re working with hard, brittle ice or softer, more pliable ice, the Nomic will always give a consistent placement. This is due to the balanced weight distribution of the axe, which aids in keeping the axe’s head oriented properly during the placement process.
In addition to its effective placement, the Petzl Nomic has a comfortable grip that is specially designed for technical ice climbing. The grip is also intended to reduce fatigue in your hands and arms, enabling you to climb for extended periods with less strain on your body.
Finally, the Petzl Nomic has a modular design, which allows you to simply swap out components and customize the axe to your specific requirements. You can, for example, change the length of the shaft or the head of the axe to suit various climbing styles or terrain. Because of its modular design, the Petzl Nomic is an excellent choice for climbers looking for a tool that will develop and adapt with them over time.
2. Black Diamond Ice Climbing Axe ($299.95)
The Black Diamond Ice Climbing Axe is a high-performance implement for ice climbers. This axe is outfitted with several features to provide a responsive and accurate climbing experience.
One of the main features of the Black Diamond Ice Climbing Axe is its lightweight shaft, which is hydroformed from a single piece of aluminum. Not only does this design make the axe lightweight and simple to maneuver, but it also extends through the grip for a responsive feel and improved rigidity. This gives climbers more control when using the axe, particularly in tricky or difficult terrain.
The one-piece hammer head is another standout element of the Black Diamond Ice Climbing Axe. This design helps to increase swing weight and provides more force when pounding in pins or anchors. The hammerhead is strong and durable, able to endure the demands of difficult ice climbing environments.
A dual-density movable pommel completes the Black Diamond Ice Climbing Axe. Because of the spacing washers that can be adjusted to suit the user’s specific needs, this pommel is intended to accommodate different glove and hand sizes. This means that climbers can customize the axe to suit their hand exactly, providing a more comfortable and secure grip while climbing.
The Black Diamond Ice Climbing Axe has an offset upper grip for contemporary leashless climbing in addition to the adjustable pommel. Climbers can use the axe without a leash, allowing them more mobility and flexibility while climbing. The offset grip also improves balance and control while using the axe.
Finally, the Black Diamond Ice Climbing Axe has a clippable spike that can be removed. When not in use, this spike can be removed, enabling the climber to tailor the axe to their specific requirements. The spike is also clippable, which allows climbers to quickly clip the axe to their harness when not in use.
3. Petzl Quark Ice Climbing Axe ($280)
The Petzl Quark Ice Climbing Axe is a multi-purpose tool intended for ice climbers who want to conquer difficult routes with ease. It is designed for efficient placement on any type of ice, whether soft snow or hard ice, making it a dependable choice for climbers of all skill levels.
The modular design of the Petzl Quark Ice Climbing Axe is one of its main features. This design enables climbers to tailor the axe to their specific requirements, making it highly adaptable and versatile. The axe’s head is interchangeable, allowing climbers to switch between various types of blades based on the terrain. This feature also makes the axe simple to keep, as replacing the blade when it becomes worn or damaged is simple.
The TRIGREST and GRIPREST hand rests on the Petzl Quark Ice Climbing Axe making it simple to handle and comfortable in any situation. The TRIGREST is a detachable handrest that adjusts to the climber’s chosen grip, assuring a secure and comfortable hold at all times. The GRIPREST is an ergonomic handle that adds support and comfort while reducing hand fatigue on lengthy climbs.
Because of its precision-engineered blade and aggressive tooth pattern, the Petzl Quark Ice Climbing Axe is intended to provide efficient placement on any type of ice. The blade is made of high-quality steel, making it strong and durable enough to endure the demands of even the most difficult climbs. The tooth pattern has been carefully designed to provide excellent grip on both hard ice and soft snow, making it an adaptable choice for climbers seeking to tackle a variety of terrain.
4. Grivel Ice Climbing Axe ($188.20)
The Grivel Ice Climbing Axe is an excellent ice climbing tool intended for use in alpine environments. It has several design elements that make it a popular option among experienced climbers.
The G-bone shaft is a standout element of the Grivel Ice Climbing Axe. This shaft is intended to improve grip and performance, giving climbers more control and precision when tackling difficult climbs. The shaft is also lightweight and durable, making it ideal for use in difficult circumstances.
The head is another important element of the Grivel Ice Climbing Axe. Because the head is hot forged from a single piece of steel, it has remarkable strength and durability. This design has become an alpine climbing community classic, renowned for its dependability and performance.
The Grivel Ice Climbing Axe’s handle has a gentle curve just below the head. This curve gives more clearance, allowing climbers to anchor the tool in a variety of terrains. The shaft’s lower straight section is intended to penetrate snow with minimal effort, enabling climbers to progress with minimal resistance.
The Grivel Ice Climbing Axe‘s blade is constructed of Chromoly steel. Because of its strength and durability, this material is an excellent option for use in ice climbing tools. The curved blade provides an outstanding blend of power and precision. Climbers can make accurate cuts in ice and other surfaces while still having enough force to drive the tool into harder materials.
5. CAMP Corsa Ice Climbing Axe ($151.99 – $159.95)
The CAMP Corsa Ice Climbing Axe is a lightweight and adaptable alpine and ice climbing tool. Its sleek and ergonomic design makes it easy to handle and move in difficult climbing situations. The axe is made of high-quality aluminum, making it lightweight yet robust, and it has a curved shaft for superb balance and precision.
The nylon spike plug on the CAMP Corsa Ice Climbing Axe is one of its outstanding features. This plug is intended to keep snow out of the shaft, which can be a significant issue when climbing in snowy or icy circumstances. The plug fits snugly into the shaft’s end and is held in position by a small screw that can be readily removed when necessary. This feature contributes to the axe remaining lightweight and simple to handle in wet or snowy conditions.
The CAMP Corsa Ice Climbing Axe also has a tiny head slot that enables seamless integration with the Corsa leash. The leash is an important safety element for ice climbers because it keeps the axe from falling out of your hand while climbing. The Corsa Axe’s small head slot is designed to firmly fit onto the Corsa leash, providing a reliable and secure connection that allows you to concentrate on your ascent without fear of dropping your axe.
What are ice axes used for in climbing?
Ice axes are crucial climbing equipment for ice and mixed climbs. They are used to maintain balance and stability while ascending, as well as to aid in self-arrest in the case of a fall.
Ice axes have a long, straight shaft with a sharp point on the bottom for breaking through ice. They also have a curved pick on one end for cutting steps in the ice and a flat adze on the other end for chopping away ice or creating a platform for the climber’s feet.
During an ascent, the climber swings the ice axe into the ice and secures it. They next use the pick and adze to make footholds and handholds that will allow them to proceed upwards. If the climber loses their foothold or balance, they can self-arrest by digging the pick into the ice and preventing themselves from sliding down the slope.
How do I choose an ice axe for climbing?
The best ice axe for climbing is determined by a variety of criteria, including the sort of climbing you will be undertaking, the terrain you will be traversing, and your personal preferences. Here are some essential factors to consider when selecting an ice axe for climbing;
- Climbing style: Ice axes are classified according to the climbing you will conduct. A simple ice axe with a curved shaft and somewhat curved picks is enough for typical mountaineering. A more specialized ice axe with a more aggressive pick and a straighter shaft may be required for technical ice climbing or mixed climbing.
- Ice axe length: The length of the ice axe is determined by the user’s height and the terrain they will be traveling. A shorter ice axe of roughly 60-70 cm is ideal for normal mountaineering, whereas a longer ice axe of around 70-80 cm is preferable for severe ice climbing.
- Pick shape: The shape of the pick might affect the performance of the ice axe in different terrain types. A pick with a moderate curvature is appropriate for general mountaineering, whereas a pick with a steeper curve is preferred for steeper terrain. Serrations or teeth may be added to some picks to improve grip on hard ice.
- Shaft material: The ice axe’s shaft material might affect its weight and durability. Aluminum shafts are lighter but less durable than steel shafts, which are heavier but more durable.
- Personal preferences: Ultimately, choosing an ice axe is a matter of personal preference. Some climbers prefer a heavier or lighter axe, a specific grip style, or a particular brand.
Before beginning any climbing trips, it is critical to select an ice axe that is appropriate for your needs and talents and to practice using it appropriately.
Do you need 2 ice climbing axes?
Yes, two ice climbing axes are often required for ice climbing. One axe swings into the ice to create a secure hold, while the other axe provides balance and stability. The presence of two axes enables efficient and safe mobility on steep ice and mixed terrain. Furthermore, having two axes can provide additional protection in the case that one of the axes fails or becomes caught in the ice.
Can you sharpen an ice climbing axe?
Ice climbing axes can, in fact, be sharpened. In fact, keeping your ice climbing axes sharp is critical for safety and performance on the ice.
You’ll need a specialist sharpening tool or a fine-grit diamond file to sharpen an ice climbing axe. Begin by wiping the axe blade clean and checking the edge for nicks or damage. If you see any damage, have a professional sharpen or restore the axe.
Assuming no damage exists, use the sharpening tool or file to carefully sharpen the edge of the axe blade, working from the base to the tip. Maintaining the original bevel angle of the blade is important since it affects the axe’s performance on the ice.
Wipe off the blade again after sharpening to eliminate any metal filings, then verify the edge by gently running your finger over it. Your axe is ready to use if it feels sharp and smooth.
How heavy is an ice climbing axe?
The weight of an ice climbing axe varies according to the model and manufacturer. Ice climbing axes typically weigh between 450 and 700 grams (16 and 24 ounces), with certain types weighing considerably more. The weight of an ice climbing axe, on the other hand, may be affected by the length of the shaft and the materials used in its construction.
Some smaller types may be better suited for technical ice climbing, whilst heavier ones may be better suited for more difficult and strenuous climbs. The weight of an ice climbing axe is ultimately determined by personal choice and the unique requirements of the climb.
How sharp should ice climbing axes be?
Ice climbing axes must be razor sharp in order to successfully penetrate the ice and provide the climber with the essential grip and security. The sharpness of the ice climbing axes can vary based on the type of ice and the climber’s personal choice, but as a general rule, the axes should be sharpened to the point where they can readily penetrate the ice with minimal effort.
The front points of ice climbing axes used for kicking and front-pointing should be very sharp. The sharper the front points, the easier it will be for the climber to grip the ice and keep control.
To ensure optimal performance and safety, ice climbing axes must be maintained and sharpened on a regular basis. Axes that are dull or damaged can increase the risk of sliding and falling, so inspect them before each usage and sharpen them as needed. If you’re unclear on how to sharpen your ice climbing axes, get advice from a professional or an experienced ice climber.
How often should you replace an ice climbing axe?
The frequency with which you should replace an ice climbing axe is determined by various factors, including the frequency of use, the sort of terrain you climb on, and the axe’s condition.
In general, ice climbing axes are built to last and survive a lot of use, so they don’t need to be replaced all the time. However, you should inspect your axe on a regular basis for signs of wear and damage, such as cracks, chips, or a loose head.
If you climb on harsh terrain or use your ice climbing axe frequently, you may need to repair it more frequently. Furthermore, if you observe any symptoms of wear or damage, you should replace your axe as soon as possible to minimize any potential safety hazards.
Many climbers, as a general rule, replace their ice climbing axes every 5-10 years, depending on the factors described above. However, regardless of how long you’ve owned your axe, it’s crucial to exercise your discretion and replace it if it exhibits symptoms of wear or damage.
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