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15 Best Mountaineers Ice Axes of 2022

by | Mar 13, 2022 | Ice Climbing, Ice Climbing, Mountaineering, Slings & Anchors, SNOW / WINTER — General | 0 comments

Climb to new heights with the help of our top-rated ice axes. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced mountaineer, we’ve got just what you need to take your skills to the next level

Group of ice climbers with ice axes
Climbing to the top of a mountain is no easy task, but with the right gear it can be a little bit easier.

Hiking, climbing, and trekking during winter take some serious effort. First, you need to build up your strength and endurance. Next, you need gear. Crampons, mountaineering boots, 4 season tents, and winter sleeping bags are among those pieces of gear you must get. Here we present you with 15 of the best ice axes on the market. From glacier travel to ski mountaineering and climbing technical ice. 

We’ve also gathered all the necessary information about them so you’ll make an educated decision on how to choose some of the best ice axes that suit your budget and activities.

Let’s dig right into it.  

See our comparison table and buying advice below the picks.

What You'll Learn


Our Picks for the Best Ice Axes on the Market


Best All-Around Ice Axe

1. Petzl Summit Evo (Price not available)

PETZL Summit EVO ice Axe 52 cm
  • Best for classic mountaineering
  • Length (inches): 20.5 to 26
  • Weight (ounces): 14 to 15.9
  • Anodized aluminum shaft
  • Stainless steel head and spike
  • TPU handle
  • Curved shaft
  • Non-modular

Check prices: Amazon: 52 cm and 59 cm, Backcountry 52 cm, 59 cm, 66 cm

Let’s start with a great, all-around ice axe: The Petzl Summit Evo. It is available in three lengths, ranging from 20.5 to 26 inches. 

The Summit Evo ice axe features a shaft is made of anodized aluminum. So, rust is something that you don’t need to worry about. Despite being made of aluminum, the Petzl Summit Evo weighs around 14 to 15.9 ounces depending on the size you choose.

While it’s not the lightest axe option out there, the extra weight yields enough anchoring power to stop you from sliding down steep slopes. 

When climbing, the Summit Evo shaft design features a bent head, which gives more clearance when swinging the ice axe while the lower section is straighter and enables fast penetration in steep snow. Plus, the serrated pick ensures a secure hold while in a descent support position, piolet-rampe mode. Both the head and spike are equipped with holes for clipping carabiners, leashes, and slings!

The hardy stainless steel spike provides very good penetration into difficult snow and piolet-canne mode. It’s sharp edges cut through both ice and snow without breaking a sweat. However, it’s quite small and wears fairly quickly. 

What we like:

  • Curved upper shaft
  • Durable stainless steel head
  • Anodized aluminum shaft 
  • Versatile 
  • Holes in head and spike for carabiners

What We Don’t Like:

  • Fairly heavy
  • The stainless steel spike and TPU handle cover wear out quickly 

Best for Glacier Travel

2.Grivel G1+ SA Ice Axe With Leash (Price not available– $69.96)

Grivel G1 Plus Axe 74cm
  • Best for ice trekking
  • Length (inches): 26 and 29.1 
  • Weight (ounces): 16
  • Aluminum shaft
  • Stainless steel head and spike
  • Non-modular
  • Fairly straight shaft
  • Lanyard

Check prices on: Amazon Grivel G1+ SA – 66 cm: Price not available & 74 cm: $69.96

Simple in design, the Grivel G1+ is a great ice axe choice for those looking for an affordable ice tool for ice trekking. It’s available in two lengths: 26 and 29.1 inches. Both retail for around 100 bucks and feature the same construction. 

The Grivel G1+ features an aluminum shaft with a hot-forged pick. Since the pick lacks the classic pointy end of most ice axes, it takes more strength to bury the axe in the ice. On the bright side, it stays in place once you manage to do it. Also, the thick steel pick and adze ensure long-lasting operation. 

Our main complaint with the Grivel G1+ is the spike is simply too small. Thus, durability might be an issue in the long run. Thankfully, it is very sharp. So, it cuts through ice and snow with ease. 

The Grivel G1+ has a straighter handled shaft, not an aggressive bend like the ice axes one would use for climbing technical ice. Therefore, it isn’t the best option for those looking to engage steeper ice.

What We Like:

  • Ergonomic and durablehead
  • Affordable 
  • It comes with a lanyard for carrying purposes 
  • Durable axe

What We Don’t like:

  • It doesn’t bury in the ice as easy 
  • Small spike

Best for Technical Ice Climbing

3. Black Diamond Viper Ice Tool– ($390.89)

Black Diamond Equipment - Viper Hammer
  • Best for alpine ice climbing
  • Length (inches): 19.7
  • Weight (ounces): 20.1 or 21
  • Aluminum shaft
  • Stainless head and spike
  • Modular head
  • Bent shaft
  • TPU grip

The Black Diamond Viper lives to its name. It has an aggressive look that screams alpine climbing. What’s more, it’s the first modular ice axe too. We like that it’s compatible with any current Black Diamond pick and adze. So, you can swap it at any time.

The head features a Chromoly steel pick with several sharp teeth. It sinks easily into packed snow and hard ice, with a shaft that has a bold bend towards the head. The shape and TPU handle give enough grip and clearance digging snow anchors.

In contrast with most other ice tools, the Viper features a clip on spike. While it might look convenient, it doesn’t make any sense to us. Naturally, you can use it to stow the ice axe. It is too flimsy to support your weight or to make holes in the ice. 

What We Like:

  • Sturdy head
  • Swappable pick
  • Easy to swing 

What we don’t like:

  • Heavy
  • Useless spike 

Best Budget Ice Axe: 

4. Cassin CAMP USA Neve Ice Axe ($79.95)

Camp USA Neve Ice Axe One Color, 57cm
  • Best for ice hiking, general mountaineering
  • Length (inches): 19.7 to 31.5
  • Weight (ounces): 16.1 to 22.1
  • Aluminum shaft
  • Stainless steel head and spike
  • Fixed head
  • Straight shafts

See Camp Neve Ice Axe prices on Backcountry: 57 cm, 65 cm and prices on Amazon: 57 cm and 65 cm

Are you looking for something simple and affordable? Then you should consider the CAMP Neve ice axe. You can choose between six sizes ranging from 19.7 to the longer shaft at 31.5 inches.

It’s 2.5mm thick, and it is strong enough to handle your weight if you need to self-arrest. The steel spike also buries with ease into hard snow, ideal for quick, aggressive self arrests. Camp Neve is meant for general mountaineering but not technical icy terrain.

The Chromoly steel pick is sharp enough to sink into the hard ice and snow. Also, the curve in adze, has solid chopping performance and fits nicely in your palm. You can carry this in a self-belay fashion. Indeed, this is why we recommend using the Neve for hiking less steep terrain.

What We Like:

  • Several lengths 
  • Thick pick
  • Adjustable lanyard
  • Lightweight

What we don’t like:

  • The adze doesn’t work that well on hard ice
  • The paint wears off with time

Best Modular Ice Axe:

5.  PETZL Sum’Tec Ice Axe ($79.95)

PETZL Unisex's Sum'Tec Ice Ax, Multicolor, UNI
  • Best for ice climbing and technical mountaineering
  • Length (inches): 21.7
  • Weight (ounces): 16.6
  • Aluminum shaft
  • Both Stainless steel head and spike
  • Modular head
  • Slightly curved shaft

Check Petzl Sum’Tec Adze prices:- Backcountry, REI, Amazon, Moosejaw

Check Petzl Sum’Tec Hammer prices- Backcountry, REI

The Sum’Tec is among the best all-around ice tools you can find. It has a modular head that is compatible with all PETZL picks and adzes. Excellent multipurpose pike, with extra accessories for technical use. This way, you can adapt to any objective. 

Hybrid ice axe useful for pushing on a more technical winter mountaineering made of a few small rock jumps and piolet traction. It is not an ice axe in my opinion, although it provides the possibility of replacing the blade with the dry tooling blade.

The ice tool shaft shows a small inward bend near the top, which protects the hand as you swing the axe toward the ice. In addition, this model has an aluminum pommel on this model with PETZL TRIGREST, which allows you to adjust your hand or finger into any climbing mode, without tools.

What we like:

  • Entirely modular head
  • The head cuts through snow, rock, and ice alike
  • Versatile 
  • Easy head swapping
  • Interchangeable picks to tackle challenges from mixed, snow or icy terrain
  • Available in adze or hammer option

What we don’t like:

  • It sits on the heavier side
  • No TPU handle
  • Expensive 

Lightweight Ice Axe

6. CAMP Corsa Alpine Ice Axe ($119.95)

CAMP Corsa Alpine Ice Axe - 45 cm
  • Best for ski and alpine mountaineering 
  • Length (inches): 17.7 to 25.6 
  • Weight (ounces): Up to 9.3 
  • Aluminum shaft
  • Chromoly steelhead
  • Fixed head
  • Slightly bent shaft

Check CAMP Corsa Alpine Ice Axe on REI, Amazon, Moosejaw

Are you looking for a lightweight axe? Then The CAMP Corsa Alpine hyperlight ice axe is a suitable choice for you. There are three available lengths: 17.7 to 25.6 inches, all of them with a weight under 9.3 ounces.

The aluminum alloy frame is light yet certified Type 1 for digging snow anchors and self-arresting. A lightweight spike plug prevents snow from entering the shaft. The grip has been machined for improved handling and a small slot in the head that allows for seamless integration with the Corsa leash (sold separately).

Certainly, the CAMP made the Corsa Alpine with the ski and alpine mountaineer in mind. It’s also a great choice for glacier travel, where cutting weight is key. That’s why the angle shaft is only 1.3 mm thick. Holes in the Chromoly head keeps the weight down, while the serrated pick is strong enough to chop ice as you climb.

The shaft shows a subtle curve that grants enough clearance when swinging the ice axe. So far, so good, right? Since the Corsa Alpine is so light and slim, it is not very reliable for self-arresting purposes. 

What we like:

  • One of the lightest ice axe on the market
  • Provides decent anchoring in steeper terrain
  • Easy to swing 

What we don’t like:

  • Tiny adze
  • No spike
  • It takes more effort to cut through ice

7. GRIVEL Nepal Self-Arrest Axe with Leash ($107.95)

Grivel Nepal S.A. Ice Axe + Leash Red, 58cm
  • Best for Classic mountaineering and ice walks
  • Length (inches): 22.8 to 29 
  • Weight (ounces): Around 15.5
  • Aluminum shaft
  • Steel, Hot Forged blade
  • Fixed head
  • Slight curve shaft

The Grivel Nepal S.A. Ice Axe has been created to make self-arresting easier, faster, and more secure than ever before. Given the fact that offering a solid self-arrest is one of your axe’s key functions, it’s not a bad thing at all.

The Grivel Nepal looks and feels durable and strong enough to cope with the toughest conditions. Its shaft comes in three different lengths, ranging from 22.8 to 29 inches while the Plus version comes with a rubber handle for better grip. 

The red shaft has a slight curve, designed to facilitate the self-arrest technique. But it is not enough for technical ice climbing. Your hand might feel a bit too close to the blade. The spike is also made of aluminum and is not as durable as the steel ones. This device, when used correctly, can assist in self-arrest. It is not intended for vertical ice climbing and should only be used as a multi-purpose mountaineering axe.

The adze is small and functional but difficult to cut through thicker ice with it. The Grivel Nepal comes with a convenient lanyard tied at the head, welcome addition, though it would have been better if it was a bit longer. You can remove it and use a carabiner instead.

 The Grivel Nepal S.A.is one of the cheaper axes on the market, which makes it a good option.

What we like:

  • Solid build
  • Strong and reliable pick
  • Comfortable to carry 

What we don’t like:

  • The adze is too dull to cut through the ice
  • The standard version doesn’t come with a grip 

Best Hybrid Ice Axe

 8. Black Diamond Venom Ice Axe ($179.00)

Black Diamond Venom Adze
  • Best for technical mountaineering 
  • Length (inches): 19.7 to 25.2
  • Weight (ounces): Up to 20.3
  • Aluminum shaft
  • Stainless steel head with integrated adze or hammer
  • Modular head
  • Asymmetrical angled shaft

Check Black Diamond Venom Ice Axe Adze on Amazon, Backcountry

The Black Diamond Venom ice axe is the one tool to have for technical ski mountaineering missions, classic glacier routes, and moderate snow climbs with short cruxes. It combines the technical accuracy of an ice tool with the traditional alpine function of a piolet. 

The Venom ice axe features an asymmetrical angled shaft that allows you to reach those tiny cracks on the ice while climbing steep terrain. It also has a large, sharp spike at the base of the shaft, which cuts the ice effortlessly.

The quick lock pommel is comfortable on long periods of alpine slab ice with a quick and simple adjustment when changing climbing modes. Also, the Black Diamond Venom has a large, sharp spike at the shaft’s bottom, which cuts the ice effortlessly. 

The hammer version comes with Mountain Tech pick while the Adze comes with Mountain Classic pick. Either way, you can also swap tools at any time since the ice axe head is removable. The handle comes with a thick TPU covering at the end and features a sliding pommel for enhanced grip. But beware. It tends to slide without releasing the trigger.

What we like:

  • Suitable for technical and non-technical mountaineering alike
  • Modular head
  • Secure grip 
  • Fully interchangeable picks

What we don’t like:

  • Flimsy sliding pommel
  • Premium price tag

Best Technical Ice Axe

9. PETZL Gully Ice Ice Axe ($128.12)

Petzl GULLY Ultra Light Ice Axe Adze 45cm 280grams
  • Best for technical mountaineering and steep skiing
  • Length (inches): 17.7
  • Weight (ounces): 9.9
  • Aluminum shaft
  • Stainless steel head
  • Non-modular head
  • Slightly curved shaft

Are you looking for super light gear? Then the Petzl Gully Technical ice axe for you. It weighs 9.9 ounces, making it one of the lightest ice axes on this list. Additionally, is also quite compact, and intended for technical mountaineering or technical ice climbing.

The performance demanded on technical sections is aided by the tapered banana-shaped pick and the TRIGREST handrest, which you can quickly switch its position to technical climbs on steep ice without needing any tools. 

The technical tool features a slightly angled shaft. This way, you will have more clearance to strike the ice. In addition, the head comes with a non-modular pick and adze. In contrast, the latter is quite small. and is only useful for clearing holds and nothing else.

PETZL opted for cutting the shaft at an angle to create a beveled spike makes it simple to transport the ice axe in a bag without harming your mountaineering pack.

What we like:

  • Lightweight axe
  • Compact
  • Slider pommel 

What we don’t like:

  • Not great for self-arresting purposes 
  • Small adze 

Best Low Angle Mountaineering Ice Tool

10.Cassin X-All Mountain Hammer ($238.95)

Cassin X-All Mountain Hammer

Features: 

  • Best for Alpine climbing and low-angle ice climbing 
  • Length (inches): 18.8
  • Weight (ounces): 20.3
  • Aluminum shaft
  • Chromoly steel head 
  • Modular head
  • Curved shaft

Check Cassin X-All Hammer price on Amazon,

Ok. Let’s start by saying that if you are not looking to tackle the toughest ice routes, then you can skip this bad boy. 

The Cassin X-All is the ideal choice for low-angle and vertical ice climbing. Not only does it have an aggressive bend, that gives enough clearance to draw the Chromoly steel pick deep into the ice, it also gives more leverage when it is time to get it out of the hole. 

The ice tool is fantastic, the first swing sticks feel natural and wonderful in hand, and they have a favorable angle for planting the pick firmly into ice. Even with mixed climbing and repeated hits against a rock a few times, they performed admirably. Also, your knuckles are protected with the curve shaft design.

The shaft is 2.5 mm thick. However, you can choose between a hammer or an adze configuration since Cassin X-All comes with a modular head. It also comes with a full, adjustable plastic pommel. You can configure any of their three parts independently to achieve comfort and grip.

What we like:

  • Modular head
  • Adjustable pommel
  • Durable pick
  • Easy to swing and release from the ice

What we don’t like:

  • Pricey
  • Heavy

11. Black Diamond Raven Ice Tool (Price not available)

Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe 2020, 65 cm
  • Best for trekking 
  • Length (inches): 23.6 and 29.5
  • Weight (ounces): Up to 16.9
  • Aluminum shaft
  • Stainless steel head 
  • Non-modular head
  • Straight shaft

Check Black Diamond Raven on Amazon, REI, Moosejaw, Backcountry

The Black Diamond Raven Ice Tool is a classic mountaineering axe that has been used on all kinds of climbs for decades. This axe has a highly balanced swing weight! When swinging this tool, you don’t feel like you’re flinging a lot of weight around.

You chop ice and snow with ease. The small bend in the shaft provides clearance for your hand to avoid contacting the snow when inserting the pick into the feature you are attempting to climb (especially useful if you’re climbing steep terrain). While the teeth are ideal when it comes to self-arrest.

The improved pick and adze shape allow for more secure placements while the updated spike that slides through snow provides you with the support with enhanced plunge-ability. A trapezoidal cross-section is added to the robust aircraft-grade shaft for a more comfortable, superior grip.

One of the most popular ice axes, the Black Diamond Raven ice tool is a great starting point for beginners.

What we like:

  • Ideal for self-arrest maneuvers 
  • Affordable 
  • Ergonomic head

What we don’t like:

  • Not for steep terrain 
  • It doesn’t handle packed ice well

Best Ski Mountaineering Ice Tool

12. CAMP Corsa Nanotech ($159.94)

CAMP Corsa Nanotech Ice Axe
  • Best for ski mountaineering
  • Length (inches): 19.7, 23.6, and 27.6 
  • Weight (ounces): Up to 10
  • 7075 Aluminum shaft
  • Stainless steel head 
  • Non-modular head
  • Slightly curved shaft

Check CAMP Corsa Nanotech Ice Axe on Amazon, REI, Moosejaw, Backcountry

The CAMP Corsa Nanotech is suitable for a wide range of conditions ranging from firm snow to hard ice. In addition, the partially bent 1.3 mm aluminum shaft gives extra clearance. But it doesn’t temper with walking, making it suitable for climbing, trekking, and self-arresting. 

CAMP used their Sandvik Nanoflex steel alloy to make the head and spike of the Corsa Nanotech. The resulting metal is 70% stronger and 20% lighter than regular steel. Still, what’s important is that the pick tears through snow and ice easily, which the steel spike does.

The machined grip is good enough for ski mountaineering and basic glacier routes, but we don’t recommend using the CAMP Corsa Nanotech for vertical ice, steep slopes, or mixed terrain. Besides, the pick shape lacks the curve needed to cope with technical routes. Also, it lacks a rubber grip, making the Corsa Nanotech difficult to carry since the head isn’t ergonomic.

What we like:

  • Versatile 
  • Different lengths available 
  • Light

What we don’t like:

  • Machined grip 
  • Cumbersome 

Best for Glacier Travel

 13.PETZL Glacier Ice Axe ($89.95)

PETZL Glacier ice Axe with Linkin Leash 60 cm

Features: 

  • Best for glacier travel
  • Length (inches): 23.6, 26.8, and 29.5 
  • Weight (ounces): Up to 13.8
  • Aluminum shaft
  • Stainless steel head 
  • Non-modular head
  • Straight shaft

Check Petzl Glacier Ice Axe on REI, Moosejaw, Feathered Friends Backcountry

Going back to the affordable range, we have the PETZL Glacier. It is pretty much like the Black Diamond Raven ice tool we’ve reviewed before in terms of design. 

The PETZL Glacier is available in three unique lengths: 23.6, 26.8, and 29.5. Naturally, the weight will increase with size up to 13.8. Still, it sits on the lighter side of the spectrum compared with other options of similar size. That’s why it is an ideal ice tool for snow and ice hiking or glacier travel. 

The 7075 aluminum handle features a machined grip. Since it has no curves, the PETZL Glacier Ice Axe is not the best option for highly technical routes or low-angle ice climbing. Nevertheless, the tempered steel pick and adze penetrate ice without breaking a sweat. You can dig snow anchors in no time.

Both head and steel spike come with large holes to attach a carabiner or lanyard. Besides, you can easily strap the ice tool to your backpack. 

What we like:

  • Ergonomic head
  • Great for building snow anchors
  • Lightweight
  • Solid adze

What we don’t like:

  • Not for steep terrain
  • Slim spike 


14. TRANGO Raptor Ice Tool ($174.95)

TRANGO Raptor Ice Tool with Removable Weights and Pick Covers
  • Best for technical climbing
  • Length (inches): 20
  • Weight (ounces): 20.3 and 22.6 (with weights) 
  • Aluminum shaft
  • Stainless steel pick
  • Modular, replaceable head
  • Curved shaft

See TRANGO Raptor price on Moosejaw, REI, Amazon

The TRANGO Raptor is not a traditional ice axe. First, it has two different built-in grips that aren’t adjustable since you won’t need to move anything while hanging high on the ice. In addition, the TRANGO Raptor comes with removable weights. Yes, you read that right. More weight gives you more power for penetrating hard snow and ice.

The TRANGO Raptor ice tool comes with a bent shaft and sturdy steel pick that can penetrate ice. A real robust spike for the piolet cane is included, allowing you to perform unusual moves and tops out with ease.

After being sharpened out of the box, the picks needed a lot of maintenance but functioned well. The serrated head features no adze nor hammer but the shape allows you to reach even the tiniest cracks. In addition, it’s carabiner-compatible thanks to the built-in hole at the base of the handle so you can attach a leash to it.

TRANGO Raptor Ice Tool with Removable Weights and Pick Covers

Great tool for a great price.

What we like:

  • Carabiner-compatible 
  • Adjustable weight
  • Sturdy pick
  • Dual handle

What we don’t like:

  • No adze nor hammer
  • Heavy

Best Technical Mountaineering Tool

 15. PETZL Quark Ice Tool ($259.95)

PETZL - Quark Technical Mountaineering & Ice Climbing Tool
  • Best for technical and mixed climbing
  • Length (inches): 19.3
  • Weight (ounces): 19.4
  • Aluminum shaft
  • Stainless steel head 
  • Modular head
  • Curved shaft

See Petzl Quark Adze Ice Tool price on: Moosejaw, Amazon

See Petzl Quark Adze Hammer price on: REI Moosejaw

The PETZL Quark is among the best technical ice tools you can get. The shaft rocks a significant curve that gives enough clearance for striking ice and snow. It’s swing felt fantastic, felt effortless and natural at any steep ice pitch, whether it’s a simple grade 3 climb or something more difficult. It also sliced through ice as if it were butter, and stuck on the first swing most of the time.

The plastic and fiberglass composite handle comes with PETZL’s Trigrest and folding Griprest, which is a surprisingly useful feature. They strengthen the grip over the tool to cope with the hardest climbs. You can adjust both of them so you can find the best grip for certain objectives. 

There are a few minor frustrations. A feature that allows the pinky rest to fold is great for plunging, but it may inadvertently fold when you hit it against ice on route, and you lose your pinky rest. If you don’t care for the index finger support, then there’s no way to remove it.

If you want to climb difficult ice and alpine with one tool, then the Petzl Quark is one of the best ice axes.

What we like:

  • Comfortable handle
  • Durable head
  • The shaft provides enough clearance 
  • Adjustable handle

What we don’t like:

  • Small carabiner holes
  • It is not comfortable to carry
  • Delicate spike

Most Expensive Ice Axe

 16. Trango Kestral Ice Tool ($495.00)

TRANGO Kestrel Axe, 29100
  • Best for steep ice and technical mixed climbing
  • Length (inches): 22
  • Weight (ounces): 21.2
  • Carbon fiber/Kevlar shaft
  • Stainless steel head
  • Modular head
  • Dual pommel grips for increased clearance and maneuverability.

Check Trango Kestral price on Amazon, Moosejaw, Backcountry

The Trango Kestral is the most expensive ice axe on this list. But with a price tag like that, you would expect some good features. And boy, does it deliver! For starters, it has a modular stainless steel head that accepts mixed picks (sold separately) for rock-intensive routes.

The carbon fiber/Kevlar lightweight shaft shows a small inward bend near the top, which protects both the hand as you swing the axe toward the ice and reduces vibration when it sticks. It also reduces weight and increases durability.

The shaft angle is intended for balanced performance on both ice and mixed routes. The curved shaft provides the clearance necessary when swinging the axe high on vertical ice. Its dual pommel grips for increased clearance and maneuverability. The first allows for choking up on the axe for better precision, while the second is a traditional grip.

However, it is not the lightest ice axe on this list. It tips the scales at 21.2 ounces, making it a better choice for experienced climbers.

What we like:

  • Lightweight
  • Modular head
  • Carbon fiber shaft
  • Dual pommel grips, no grip tape needed
  • Shorter length options

What we don’t like:

  • Expensive
  • Not the lightest ice axe

Mountaineering Ice Axe: Buyer’s Advice

Are you on the market for a brand new ice axe? If so, then you should take a look at this section. Here we will talk long and wide about these ice tools. Therefore, you can choose the best ice axe model to suit your current needs. 

We will cover everything from length and materials to weight and head design. Let’s get down to business.

Comparison Guide to Ice Axes 

Best All-Round
PETZL Summit EVO ice Axe 52 cm
Grivel G1 Plus Axe 74cm
Best Technical Tool
Black Diamond Equipment - Viper Hammer
Best Budget Ice Axe
CAMP Neve Ice Axe - 50cm
Best Modular Ice Axe
PETZL Unisex_Adult Sum tecice Ice Axe, Silver, 55 cm
Lightest Ice Axe
CAMP Corsa Alpine Ice Axe - 45 cm
Product
PETZL Summit Evo Ice Axe
Grivel G1+ SA
Black Diamond Viper Ice Tool
CAMP Neve Ice Axe
PETZL Sum'Tec Ice Axe
CAMP Corsa Alpine Ice Axe
Star Rating
Price
Price not available
$99.95
$390.89
$79.95
$199.95
$119.95
Prime Status
-
-
-
-
-
Weight (Ounces)
14 to 15.9
-
Up to 21
16.1 to 22.1
16.6
Up to 9.3
Length (cm)
52 to 66
66 and 74
50
80
55
45-65
Head
Non-modular
Non-modular
Modular
Non-modular
Non-modular
Non-modular
Shaft
Curved
Straight
Curved
Straight
Slight Bend
Slightly curved
Best All-Round
PETZL Summit EVO ice Axe 52 cm
Product
PETZL Summit Evo Ice Axe
Star Rating
Price
Price not available
Prime Status
-
Weight (Ounces)
14 to 15.9
Length (cm)
52 to 66
Head
Non-modular
Shaft
Curved
Grivel G1 Plus Axe 74cm
Product
Grivel G1+ SA
Star Rating
Price
$99.95
Prime Status
-
Weight (Ounces)
-
Length (cm)
66 and 74
Head
Non-modular
Shaft
Straight
Best Technical Tool
Black Diamond Equipment - Viper Hammer
Product
Black Diamond Viper Ice Tool
Star Rating
Price
$390.89
Prime Status
-
Weight (Ounces)
Up to 21
Length (cm)
50
Head
Modular
Shaft
Curved
Best Budget Ice Axe
CAMP Neve Ice Axe - 50cm
Product
CAMP Neve Ice Axe
Star Rating
Price
$79.95
Prime Status
-
Weight (Ounces)
16.1 to 22.1
Length (cm)
80
Head
Non-modular
Shaft
Straight
Best Modular Ice Axe
PETZL Unisex_Adult Sum tecice Ice Axe, Silver, 55 cm
Product
PETZL Sum'Tec Ice Axe
Star Rating
Price
$199.95
Prime Status
-
Weight (Ounces)
16.6
Length (cm)
55
Head
Non-modular
Shaft
Slight Bend
Lightest Ice Axe
CAMP Corsa Alpine Ice Axe - 45 cm
Product
CAMP Corsa Alpine Ice Axe
Star Rating
Price
$119.95
Prime Status
Weight (Ounces)
Up to 9.3
Length (cm)
45-65
Head
Non-modular
Shaft
Slightly curved
Grivel Nepal S.A. Ice Axe + Leash Red, 58cm
Best Hybrid Ice Axe
Black Diamond Venom Adze - Silver - 57 cm
Best Technical Ice Axe
Petzl GULLY Ultra Light Ice Axe Adze 45cm 280grams
Cassin X-All Mountain Hammer
Best Low Angle Mountaineering Ice Tool
Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe 2020, 65 cm
Best Ski Mountaineering Ice Tool
CAMP Corsa Nanotech Ice Axe - 50cm
Product
Grivel Nepal S.A w/Leash
Black Diamond Viper Adze
PETZL Gully Ultralight Ice Axe
Cassin X-All Mountain Hammer
Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe
CAMP Corsa Nanotech Ice Axe
Ratings
Price
$107.95
Price not available
$128.12
$238.95
Price not available
$159.95
Prime Status
-
-
-
-
-
Weight
15.5
Up to 20.3
9.9
21.3
Up to 16.9
up to 10
Length
58-74
50 to 64
45
48
60-75
50 to 70
Head
Non-modular
Modular
Non-modular
Modular
Non-modular
Non-modular
Shaft
Slightly curved
Angled
Slightly Curved
Curved
Straight
Slightly Curved
Grivel Nepal S.A. Ice Axe + Leash Red, 58cm
Product
Grivel Nepal S.A w/Leash
Ratings
Price
$107.95
Prime Status
-
Weight
15.5
Length
58-74
Head
Non-modular
Shaft
Slightly curved
Best Hybrid Ice Axe
Black Diamond Venom Adze - Silver - 57 cm
Product
Black Diamond Viper Adze
Ratings
Price
Price not available
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-
Weight
Up to 20.3
Length
50 to 64
Head
Modular
Shaft
Angled
Best Technical Ice Axe
Petzl GULLY Ultra Light Ice Axe Adze 45cm 280grams
Product
PETZL Gully Ultralight Ice Axe
Ratings
Price
$128.12
Prime Status
-
Weight
9.9
Length
45
Head
Non-modular
Shaft
Slightly Curved
Cassin X-All Mountain Hammer
Product
Cassin X-All Mountain Hammer
Ratings
Price
$238.95
Prime Status
-
Weight
21.3
Length
48
Head
Modular
Shaft
Curved
Best Low Angle Mountaineering Ice Tool
Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe 2020, 65 cm
Product
Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe
Ratings
Price
Price not available
Prime Status
-
Weight
Up to 16.9
Length
60-75
Head
Non-modular
Shaft
Straight
Best Ski Mountaineering Ice Tool
CAMP Corsa Nanotech Ice Axe - 50cm
Product
CAMP Corsa Nanotech Ice Axe
Ratings
Price
$159.95
Prime Status
Weight
up to 10
Length
50 to 70
Head
Non-modular
Shaft
Slightly Curved
PETZL Glacier ice Axe with Linkin Leash 60 cm
TRANGO Kestrel Axe, 29100
TRANGO Raptor Ice Tool with Removable Weights and Pick Covers
Best Technical Mountaineering Tool
PETZL - Quark Technical Mountaineering & Ice Climbing Tool
Product
PETZL Glacier
Trango Kestrel
TRANGO Raptor Ice Tool
PETZL Quark
Ratings
-
Price
$89.95
$495.00
$174.95
$259.95
Prime Status
-
-
-
-
Weight
Up to13.8
16.4
Up to 22.6
19.4
Length
60-75
50.8 x 22.86 x 5.08
50
50
Head
Non-Modular
Modular
Modular
Modular
Shaft
Straight
Curved
Curved
Curved
PETZL Glacier ice Axe with Linkin Leash 60 cm
Product
PETZL Glacier
Ratings
Price
$89.95
Prime Status
-
Weight
Up to13.8
Length
60-75
Head
Non-Modular
Shaft
Straight
TRANGO Kestrel Axe, 29100
Product
Trango Kestrel
Ratings
-
Price
$495.00
Prime Status
-
Weight
16.4
Length
50.8 x 22.86 x 5.08
Head
Modular
Shaft
Curved
TRANGO Raptor Ice Tool with Removable Weights and Pick Covers
Product
TRANGO Raptor Ice Tool
Ratings
Price
$174.95
Prime Status
-
Weight
Up to 22.6
Length
50
Head
Modular
Shaft
Curved
Best Technical Mountaineering Tool
PETZL - Quark Technical Mountaineering & Ice Climbing Tool
Product
PETZL Quark
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Price
$259.95
Prime Status
-
Weight
19.4
Length
50
Head
Modular
Shaft
Curved

Mountaineering Ice Axes vs. Technical Ice Tools

Although numerous people use the phrase “ice axe” freely to describe both mountaineering and vertical ice/mixed climbing tools, technically they have distinct names; ice tools, not ice axes, are used for technical ice climbing.

The distinction between ice axes and ice tools lies in their size. Because they are used primarily for traveling across less-steep ground (similar to a cane or more aggressive trekking pole) or as a snow anchor, mountaineering axes are considerably longer than ice tools. The straight shaft of a mountaineering axe also gives better leverage for self

Climbing Ice Axe vs Mountaineering Ice Tool
Mountaineering Ice Axe Vs. Alpine Ice Tool

Technical ice tools are also shorter and have curved shafts. A curved shaft makes it simpler to generate a more effective swing and excellent pick placement in the ice.

Anatomy of an Ice Axe

Before we continue, here’s a quick rundown of the anatomy of ice axes and tools. Ice axes are different from backpacking hatches because they have a sharpened cutting edge on the pick, while hatches don’t.

Ice axes and tools have a different design than traditional ice axes. As you can see, there are two kinds of picks: one with a pointed end and one with an edge that curves in toward the handle Ice-axe heads come in various shapes depending on their intended use.

Heads:

The heads are the business end of the ice axe, and it’s where the pick and adze are located. In fact, one of the most common shapes are a classic alpine head, which has a pointed pick and straight adze. Additionally, there is a technical ice tool head, which has a curved pick and no adze.

Adze/hammer:

Ice axes always have an adze on the opposite side of the pick, while ice tools will either have an adze or a hammer.

Ice Axe Anatomy Parts Definition
Ice Axe Anatomy-Parts of an Ice Axe

Carabiner hole:

The name says it all: you may attach the axe/tool to a carabiner on your harness for safekeeping by using the hole at the top. This is also where you would attach a leash.

Shaft:

Axes used in mountaineering are straight, while ice tools having curved shafts (although some versions have a tiny curve). Shafts are most often constructed of aluminum, steel, or carbon.

 Pick:

The component you swing into the ice is known as the pick of an ice tool. The pick is also used in mountaineering when performing a self-arrest with a climbing axe.

Spike:

Is a small, sharp metal point that aids balance when walking on ice and is found on all mountaineering axes and some ice tools. (Because walking isn’t the main purpose of certain ice tools, they don’t have one.)

Shaft Grip:

The shaft grip is the area of the shaft where you hold the axe/tool. It is generally wrapped in rubber or TPU, or sprayed with epoxy for extra grip.

Ice Axe Material

What are ice axes made of?

The shafts of mountaineering axes are made of aluminum, forged steel, Chromoly steel, or carbon. Carbon is the lightest and most expensive option, but it can also be the most brittle. Aluminum is both strong and lightweight, making it a popular choice for shafts. Steel is the strongest material but also the heaviest.

Likewise, the head of an ice axe can be made of aluminum, steel, or titanium.

Steel

When it comes to alpine objectives, steel is king. Not only does this metal provide more durability and versatility than titanium but also allows for better performance in firm conditions like snow or neve, With its advantage of being able self-arrest when swinging into these harder substances.

It’s also an excellent choice when more involved alpine objectives need to be taken on, like pounding pickets or chopping steps into firm ice. What’s more, it allows you better self-arresting capabilities while swinging into firmer snow/neve (ices).

Ice Climber ;using anchors, ice axe adze and ice axe hammer
The steelhead is a versatile model that can do it all. It’s ability to self-arrest and climb in firm conditions makes the head ideal for technical routes, while its pounding abilities make them great at putting out snow anchors on ice or crevasses!

Aluminum

There are some situations where aluminum is the perfect material, such as early season backpacking, ski mountaineering, or adventure racing. It’s light, durable and strong enough to take on minor abuse like pushing through snow or ice without breaking easily. But, it’s not meant for heavy-duty tasks such as climbing steep surfaces or pounding ice or too many anchors.

Titanium

Titanium is a strong, lightweight metal that has all of the same applications as steel. It’s stronger than aluminum but slightly softer and easier to bend. However, it’s the most expensive option. While titanium has similar bite to steels with similar levels of hardness, they only offer minor weight savings over their counterparts made out of steel or aluminum. In summary, they’re not necessarily worth paying extra money.

Grivel Dark Machine with Ice Vario, 756330
Grivel G-bone carbon composite shaft &
steel head
$399.00
Omega Pacific Ice Mountain Axe, 60 cm, for Climbing, NiCroMo Head & Spike,...
Omega Pacific Aluminum shaft &
steel head
Price not available
BLUE ICE Hummingbird Ice Axe - Silver 45cm
Blue Ice Hummingbird Ice Axe
Aluminum shaft &
Titanium head
$189.95
Black Diamond Equipment - Fuel Hammer Ice Tool
Black Diamond Chromoly steel Pick, aluminum shaft, & steel head
$299.95
Variety of Mountaineering Ice Axes- Heads and Shafts

Ice axes and accessories with carbon fiber shafts are available. Carbon is lightweight, incredibly durable, and extremely strong…but it’s also rather costly. Unless you need to save weight on your mountaineering excursions or have been ice climbing for a while, it’s usually better to choose steel or aluminum tools.

Pick Curve

Classic curve, neutral curve, reverse curves pick shapes on ice axes
Classic curve, neutral curve, reverse curves pick shapes on ice axes

One of the main differences between mountaineering axes and ice tools is the pick designs. As mentioned before, the pick on an ice tool curves inward toward the handle. This feature makes it easier to generate power when swinging the tool.

Axes used in mountaineering have a straight shaft and a classic alpine head with a pointed pick and straight adze. Compared to technical ice tools, which have a curved shaft and pick and no adze.

There are three types of pick curves: classic, reverse, and neutral. However, the majority of ice axes and tools use either a classic or reverse curve pick. Most mountaineering axes will have a classic curve, which is also sometimes called a positive curve.

Classic Curve (Positive Curve):

The most popular type of general mountaineering axe is the positive curve design. Its pick makes a slight arch curve downward when swung into ice at a higher angle. Thus, this method gives you the ability to climb steeply while also self-arresting, when needed for security on difficult terrain. Or in case you slip going uphill again!

However, the major disadvantage of a traditional (classic or positive) curve is that it is more difficult to clean (extract from the ice), even though they don’t get stuck quite so easily as those who use reverse curves, ice axes often need more power because there isn’t any sort offsetting weight distribution towards one side like we see during forward swings; meaning instead pushing down harder through soft ice.

The classic curve is excellent at self-arrest and if you come to a section of steeper ice that needs to be climbed, this pick shape allows you to climb much more securely than a neutral curve would.

Ice Climber having fun with classic curve ice axe
The design shape of this head makes it perfect for climbing up hills in snowy conditions. Since, it has a positive curve which helps with self-arresting. And it’s also more reliable when climbing deeper snow or ice than reverse or neutral.

Neutral Curve Pick:

Best for self-arresting but it isn’t as secure when you swing it into the ice. Since the pick has no droop coming from the shaft’s head, and offers a smooth feel when self-arresting. There aren’t too many ice tools on the market like this.

Reverse curve pick:

Also known as reverse positive picks, are considerably easier to remove from the ice. As a result, almost all technical ice tools employ reverse curve picks for this reason. The reverse curve pick is a great choice for climbing ice and steep snow. This design starts trending down like positive curves, but commonly at an increased angle before turning back up to make removal easier on your hands

The downside is that this curve can also make it more difficult to self-arrest. For this reason, ice tools are not typically used for mountaineering. However, if you are comfortable with using it and know how to properly execute a self-arrest, then go for it!

Reverse Curve Ice tool for ice climbing
For steep snow and ice climbing, a reverse curve pick is the best. They work well for self-arrest but aren’t as smooth in firmer conditions

Length

The ice axe length is one of the most relevant features that you should look into. It’s measured by the distance from the tip of the axe, to the top of its head is the ice axe sizes, which are given in centimeters.

Choosing The Ice Axe Length

how to choose the right ice axe length
It’s important to buy an axe that is the right length for you. Shorter axes offer many advantages but there are few disadvantages too!

Keep in mind that the following process is not written in stone. But it is a good reference on how long your tool should be. 

  1. To begin with, stand up straight and place your fits as if you were holding an imaginary ice axe. 
  2. Then, measure the distance between your thumb to the ankle bone. 
  3. However, if you have the ice axe in your hand,fFace forward in a relaxed yet upright posture with your arm holding the axe head at your side. Next allow the spike of the axe to hang toward the ground.
  4. The tip of the spike on a proper-sized axe should be even with your ankle, or an inch above it.

Your ice axe should be about as long as your arm from fingertip to shoulder when your arm is fully extended.

In moderate terrain, you’ll want a somewhat longer ice axe than usual. While standing, hold the head of the ice axe (between the pick and adze). The spike should come close to your ankle bone. This allows the spike to dig into the snow while walking without having to bend over excessively.

Choosing The Ice Tool Length

You’ll want to look more at the features than its length when purchasing an ice tool. Depending on the route you’re planning, you’ll need to think about several alternatives. Especially since ice tools come with a variety of different picks for the medium you will be climbing (water ice, alpine ice, mixed ice, or rock).

An adze or hammer are two types of head attachments. Moreover, the shaft can have various angles and handles depending on your preference. From traditional ice tool to the lightest technical tools, each are highly feature-rich and offer specialized solutions to particular climbing issues.

Weight

It matters, not only in terms of portability, durability, and performance while climbing. Let’s see why. 

A heavy ice axe is desirable when climbing a frozen wall. You will generate more momentum as you swing the tool towards the ice. Therefore, you will be more likely to break the ice and anchor yourself. In addition, a bulky axe is typically more durable.

The main drawback is that they are heavier, making them unsuitable for long hiking and glacier travel. Here, a light model is the best bet.

Mountain climber ascending snowy terrain with ice axe
For more challenging terrain, like steep mountains or glaciers with steep slopes. A A shorter axe will make it easier to maintain balance

Shaft Design

The shaft is the piece that holds the head and spike together. It is also where you grab the tool. There are two main shaft designs: Curved and straight. While you might use both regardless of the activity, your life will be easier if you choose the shaft according to your need. 

Straight Shafts

  • If you are only using the axe for hiking, glacier travel, or general mountaineering, then you are better off with a straight-shaft ice axe. You can use it as a walking stick for better support, low-angle terrain and it plunges neatly into snow when self-belaying or using the axe as an anchor.
ice Axe with Straight shaft
In general, our testers preferred curved-shafted ice axes over straight ones.

Curved Shafts:

  • These have a little bend that allows you to avoid striking your hand on the snow and ice when placing the pick. For steep terrain, curved shafts are preferable because it offers a more ergonomic swinging motion, since ice-climbing axe shafts have a significant curvature
Curved shaft ice tools
The curved shaft of an ice axe can be useful for climbing in and out or crevasses, especially steep ones. It’s handle is where you should hold when using this tool so that your hands don’t get damaged by contact with sharp rocks on top!

Curved Shaft
PETZL - Nomic Ice Climbing Tool Petzl - Nomic Ice Climbing Tool $290.00

Straight shaft
Grivel G1 Ice Axe Green, 74cm Grivel G1 Ice Axe $79.95

Shaft Grip

Most ice tools either use molded, plastic, or rubber grips. The first is more common among glacier and hiking ice axes, while the latter two are more common among ice climbing models. 

While some models even come with adjustable handles. Particularly, these are ideal for technical routes where having a firm grip over the tool is crucial. The PETZL Quark Ice Tool perfectly illustrates this handle design. Keep in mind that these models are typically more expensive.

Ice Tool Head

Unquestionably, the head is the most useful part of any ice axe. It commonly has two distinctive sections: The pick and the adze or hammer. The first is what you use to anchor yourself as you climb a frozen wall and also useful in self-arresting maneuvers. 

Keep in mind that not all picks are built the same. For example, the CAMP Neve Ice Axe rocks a serrated design with a broad end. In contrast, the PETZL Sum’Tec Ice Axe offers several tiny spikes with a pointy end. The first, therefore, is more suitable for hiking, trekking, and non-technical climbing while the latter is better for mixed terrain and technical routes. 

Pick Shape

The pick usually has a positive curve, which is also known as a classic curve; this is where the pick makes a small downward arching curve downward. This design is popular because it strikes an ideal balance of steep snow performance and self-arresting.

Adze Vs Hammer

A mountaineering axe will always have an adze, which may be utilized for a variety of things, such as step cutting, digging snow anchors, tent platform reduction, improvising anchor points, and so on. This shovel-like surface also makes an excellent gripping surface when performing self-arrest.

Ice axe adze and Ice axe Hammer
Comparing the adze vs hammer. The adze is an excellent tool for cleaving through thick layers of hard ice. It’s also good at chopping steps in frozen snow. While the hammer on an ice axe is great for breaking through tough ice

Adzes:

These aren’t necessarily required when climbing technical ice or mixed routes, although it may be helpful. Instead, many ice tools include a hammer that may be used to drive in pitons. Many climbers prefer to use one adze tool and one hammer tool, but you are free to configure your tools any way you want. Most ice tools have modular heads, so you can replace adzes and hammers as needed, or even remove them entirely if desired to decrease weight.

Climber using adze head
The adze is the perfect tool for breaking through hard ice, making a snow cave, or tent platform creation.

Hammer:

In contrast, ice climbing models commonly use a hammer instead of an adze, like the PETZL Gullyice Ice Axe. While some don’t use anything at all. A hammer is ideal for burying ice anchors deep into the ice. 

Conversely, some ice tools don’t come with anything at the other end. Only technical pick heads are commonly used on highly-technical ice tools such as the PETZL Sum’Tec Ice Axe.

Climbing pounding vertical picks
A hammer’s head allows you to pound vertical picks or pitons into cracks, which can help when your climb has moat issues in late season

Modular or Non-Modular 

Regardless of the head layout, you can choose between modular and non-modular models. The second type is non-replaceable. Therefore, you will need to purchase another axe if you damage or wear out the pick. However, this is highly unlikely. 

On the other hand, you can replace both the pick and the adze on ice tools with modular heads. The advantage here is that you don’t need to get another axe if you damage or wear the pick out. However, this is not the main advantage. 

Non-Modular
Grivel Flame Ice Axe One Color, 42cm Grivel Flame Ice Axe $349.95

Since you can swap picks on modular axes, you can pick the one that best suits your current needs. For example, technical ice climbing requires a slightly angled pick with tiny spikes. But that pick might not be suitable for ski mountaineering or mixed terrain. 

Why Do I Need a Spike?

The spike is on the other end of the ice axe. It penetrates hard snow and ice, and you can use it as an extra support point while walking. You can also plunge the tool into the snow to improvise an anchor. it can be helpful to have spikes on the bottom. Additionally, the spike helps you maintain more control and traction when walking across firm surfaces such as snow-covered rock or frozen turf with protruding cracks that require protection from steep upward slopes (like pesky gully steps)

Climbers in mountain
A spike is a great way to feel more secure when using your ice axe as an extra point of contact while walking on firmer terrain.

Carabiner or Leash Compatibility 

There will be times that you’ll be carrying the axe by hand. But, what happens when you don’t? You can stash it in your mountaineering backpack. But, it is better to have it within hand’s reach. In fact, that’s why some tools come with holes where you can attach a lanyard or carabiner to quickly secure an ice axe to your belt.

Is a leash needed?

Leashes offer both additional protection and contribute to a climber’s sense of security. A leash prevents you from losing your ice axe /tools in the event of a fall, whether it’s tied to your wrist or your harness. Some ice axes/tools are provided with leashes, whereas others aren’t; if necessary, you may purchase them separately (or make your own out of webbing or perlon cord).

Ice climber with ice tools
Leashes are an essential component in mountaineering. They offer additional protection and contribute to the climber’s sense of security, as they prevent you from losing your tools if something goes wrong during a fall

Understanding the Different Ice Axe Models

You see, we’ve taken the time to describe handle design, head layout, and grip arrangement.

Let’s look at most other ice axe types and what makes a best ice ax for you. 

Classic Mountaineering Axe 

These are ideal for glacier routes and reaching the top of steep snow peaks. Therefore, they are not the best for those looking to engage in technical ice climbing or similar activities. But, how do you distinguish a classic ice axe from the rest? The short answer is: 

  • Length sized from thumb to ankle
  • Straight aluminum shaft 
  • Straight or slightly curved head 
  • Pick and adze 

Classic mountaineering ice tools shafts are thicker as well. Plus, they typically have non-modular heads too. 

Ice climber with mountaineering axe
Climbers use mountaineering ice axes to help ascend and descend steep slopes covered in ice. These special axes have spikes that can be used to grip the ice.

Hiking or Backpacking Tools 

Ice axes are also utilized when trekking on a route that may or will have sections covered with snow or ice. (Ice axes are frequently carried by thru-hikers in early or late season.) Although they are quite similar to Classic mountaineering tools, there are some distinctive features.

In short, a hiking axe looks like this: 

  • Straight or slightly bent shaft. 
  • Length sized from thumb to ankle or shorter
  • Slightly curved head 
  • Molded or plastic grip 
  • Classic length; or up to 10cm shorter
Backpacker with ice Axe and pack
The ice ax is perhaps the most important tool in your backpacking backcountry arsenal. You might think that weight isn’t an issue with this piece, but it’s literally what holds you up on steep terrain and lighter models won’t offer nearly as much versatility- it’s not worth risking your life!

Alpine or Scrambling Ice Axe

Ice axes are also used in alpine climbing where there is snow or ice to climb, and the route may be straight up steeper terrain, using both hands and feet rather than traveling on low-angle ground or crossing steep slopes.

The main difference between the other two is that alpine axes feature a subtle curve in the upper shaft. Also, the bend gives you enough clearance for a more natural swing.

Climbing ice axes typically have: 

  • Straight shaft; or curved shaft if the axe will frequently be held in the middle and used like a claw if it has a bent shaft.
  • It can be up to 10cm shorter if only little chopping is required; but in can be longer if a lot of cutting is needed.
  • A traditional-curve pick with a steel head
Alpine axe used for steep ice climbing
If you’re looking to tackle some of the world’s toughest icy climbs, then you’ll need an alpine ice tool. They can be the difference between success and failure on a challenging climb.

Technical Climbing Axe

 These are meant for scaling frozen waterfalls, icefalls, and ice-covered rock slabs. It’s useful to note the distinctions while you shop: Ice-climbing axes are shorter than standard ice axes, feature bent shafts and a head that differs from a conventional ice axe in design (compared to classic ice axes). Axes for vertical ice (slopes greater than 60°) are called “ice tools” and are used by climbers belaying each other.

Technical ice axes look like this: 

  • Aggressively curved shaft 
  • Reverse curve pick head
  • Modular head

Terrain

Moderate Terrain

If you’re headed for moderate terrain, then a straight-shafted axe is sufficient if you are not climbing steep ice. Indeed, the Petzl Glacier is one of the more popular ice axes for several reasons. The straight shaft enables the ice ax to be utilized as a walking stick, while the pick angle and longer shaft work together for optimum leverage when performing a self-arrest.

ice axes are a must for any climb with steep snow or difficult ice pitches. It’s best to wear them on your non-leading arm so that if you slip, there won’t be an accident with the blade end hitting someone in another part of their body

Steep Terrain

When the terrain gets steeper (an example would beKautz Glacier Route on Mt. Rainier), you’ll want a hybrid-style ice ax like the Petzl Sum’tec. This type of ax includes a little bend and a hand rest to a regular ax so it can adapt to varying terrains and slop angles over time.

Hybrid axes also tend to have a flatter pick angle and shape (to allow for effective swing into ice) as well as the ability to swap the adze for a hammer to your needs. You should always carry an appropriate tool with you when hiking or mountaineering in areas where ice axes aren’t recommended, such as the Eastern Sierra Nevada of California or the Tetons in Wyoming.

Climbers with mountaineering gear
When climbing in steep terrain, always use an ice axe that is specially designed for that purpose. If you don’t have the proper equipment, it can be very dangerous.

Vertical Terrain

Because the route may need the usage of two axes, generally one hybrid ax and one ice tool; or two ice tools for genuinely vertical terrain and beyond, finding your way up very steep or vertical ground might be difficult. Ice tools are more specialized than hybrid axes: a drooped pick, the capacity to utilize a hammer or adze, a bent shaft, and full hand and finger rest.

A great example of this type of technical tool is the Petzl Quark

Scaling vertical ice
This hand clearance has several nice benefits while ascending sustained steep snow climbs as it would keep its users’ hands dryer and warmer than models that featured less or no curve.
PETZL - Quark Technical Mountaineering & Ice Climbing Tool
PETZL - Quark Technical Mountaineering & Ice Climbing Tool

Best Mountaineering Ice Axe: PETZL Summit Evo

Group of ice climbers
Almost every mountaineer has had the experience of trying to find an ice axe that is just right for their needs. It’s not easy, and there are many factors you’ll want to consider before making your purchase. In addition, weight distribution, how well it fits with other equipment, type of terrain, and weather conditions matter. So hopefully this review will help save time deciding on which one!
PETZL Summit EVO ice Axe 52 cm

Although there are many ice tools on this list and many more in the market, the PETZL Summit Evo is today’s best ice axe. Its design shape makes it suitable for a wide variety of purposes. For instance, it has a subtly curved shaft, which gives you enough clearance for alpine climbing, as long as you don’t engage in highly technical climbs. Moreover, the lower half is straight enough to be used as a walking cane. 

The PETZL Summit Evo head is stainless steel, featuring a slight curve that perfectly fits inside your hand, but is on the heavier side. Since it comes with a hole in the head, you can strap a lanyard and attach it to your backpack. 

Lastly, the sharp spike easily plunges through hard snow and ice. As you can see, the PETZL Summit Evo is a great all-around axe. Click here to get yours.

What Ice axes do you use? What would you recommend? Comment below!


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Last update on 2022-02-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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