Best Ice Axes

Mountaineer climbing with ice axe

There are few things as severe as falling off a steep icy peak. Getting good purchase on terrain is absolutely essential whether you’re at 4000 feet or 24,000 feet. When all else fails and you feel yourself sliding or have found yourself with your legs taken out from underneath you, catching yourself with your ice axe is essential. Ice axes or piolets are a necessary part of every mountaineer’s gear closet.

Aside from arresting falls, ice axes can be used as anchors, to chop steps, and in some cases they can be used for light ice climbing when necessary. In this article we’ll break down our favorite axes and some of their best uses.

Best Hiking Crampons

1. Petzl Summit Evo ($139.95)

5/5

Weight: 400g (52cm), 420g (59cm), 450g (66cm)

Shaft Shape: Bent

Material: 7075 Aluminum / Steel

Certification: CEN-B

Features

  • Technical shaft shape and thin pick for purchase on steeper ice
  • Head and spike come with holes for clipping to things

2. Black Diamond Venom Adze Ice Axe ($169.95)

4.8/5

Weight: 514g (50cm), 545g (57cm), 574g (64cm)

Shaft Shape: Bent

Material: Aluminum / Steel

Certification: CEN-B

Features

  • Interchangeable picks allow you to use this axe on different missions
  • FlickLock pommel give you a second grip for vertical climbing

3.Grivel G1+ Ice Axe ($99.95)

4.7/5

Weight: 408g (58cm), 508g (66cm), 553g (74cm)

Shaft Shape: Bent

Material: 7075 Aluminum / Carbon Steel

Certification: CEN-B

Features

  • Comes with a comfortable leash
  • Ergonomic head is easy to hold on long days out

4. C.A.M.P. Corsa Ice Axe ($119.95)

4.4/5

Weight: 201g

Shaft Shape: Straight

Material: 7075 Aluminum 

Certification: CEN-B

Features

  • Integrated spike cuts the weight down and makes for a more streamlined design
  • Spike plug keeps snow from getting inside the hollow shaft

5. Black Diamond Raven Pro Ice Axe ($119.95)

4.1/5

Weight: 391g (55cm), 408g (60cm), 422g (65cm), 439g (70cm)

Shaft Shape: Slight Curve

Material: Aluminum / Stainless- Steel

Certification: CEN-B

Features

  • Grooved grip for help during self-arrest
  • Ergonomic head for easier gripping

6. Petzl Sum'Tec Adze Ice Axe ($199.95)

4.1/5

Weight: 470g

Shaft Shape: Bent

Material: Aluminum / Steel

Certification: CEN-T

Features

  • TRIGREST handrest allows for vertical ice climbing
  •  Compatible with accessories/picks for QUARK, NOMIC, and ERGO series of ice tools. 

7. Grivel Air Tech Evolution ($209.99)

4.1/5

Weight: 430g( 48cm), 

Shaft Shape: Bent

Material: 7075 Aluminum / Steel

Certification: CEN-T

Features

  • Ergonomic rubber grip for easier self arrests / planting of the pick
  • Easy slider leash that can connect to your harness

FAQ

What size axe should I get?

Ice axes for traditional mountaineering objectives should reach to just above your ankle bone when held at your side with your arm relaxed and your hand gripping the axe by the head. For most people this means:

  • 5’8″ and below: 50cm-60cm
  • 5’8″ to 6’0″: 60cm-70cm
  • 6’0″ and above: 65cm-75cm

Ice axes for ski-mountaineering and steeper technical terrain can frequently be much shorter.

CEN-T shafts are generally for technical mountaineering, these shafts and picks are more durable and often times thicker. CEN-B shafts and picks are lighter weight and often less durable. Most general mountaineering axes that are not meant for vertical climbing are CEN-B. Remember, for technical ice tools, the shafts and picks can have different ratings. 


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