Best Ice Tools for Ice Climbing

Ice climber stops to place ice screw
Ice climbing is not a sport for the faint of heart. Scaling frozen waterfalls is a serious undertaking, even with the right tools. Luckily for us climbers, ice tools have gotten progressively better since the days of straight shafts. In this post, we’ll be breaking down the uses of ice tools and some of the best ice tools for ice climbing on the market right now.

Uses of Ice Tools

Pure Ice Climbing

For most beginners, sticking strictly to pure ice climbing helps them learn “the ropes” of the sport. On these routes, graded WI 1 to WI 7 climbers can get progressively more vertical on iced-in routes. These routes do not include any other terrain, and generally, climbers will use an ice-specific pick on the route. 

Mixed Climbing

Mixed climbing routes, graded M1 to M16, give climbers an opportunity to use the best ice tools for ice climbing to deal with both ice and rock. For climbs like this, climbers may want to use a mixed climbing pick that can be torqued in cracks but can still penetrate the ice.

Dry Tooling 

Dry tooling involves using the best ice tools for ice climbing to climb routes that don’t have ice. These picks are specifically built to be placed in small cracks. 

Ice Climbing Grades

  • WI-1: Easy low-angle ice that is generally less than 50 degrees vertically

  • WI-2: Low-angle ice that may have moderate bulges. This ice is generally between 60 degrees vertically. 
  • WI-3: Front pointing is required on this steeper ice. This is ice generally 70 degrees vertically.
  • WI-4: This ice requires vertical climbing and sustained climbing. It offers good protection but may have technical sections. This ice is generally 80 degrees vertically.
  • WI-5: This is sustained vertical ice that may be technical. These pitches can be 90 degrees up columns of water vertically.
  • WI-6: These routes are long and vertical, where a fall may cause serious injury without the best ice tools for ice climbing. They can be overhung and 90+ degrees vertically. 
  • WI-7: This grade is reserved for long, possibly run-out pitches that are extremely difficult and offer little protection. There are very few of these routes out there, and very few climbers that have tackled them.
ProductWeight Per ToolFeaturesCost
Cassin X-Dream Ice ToolCassin X-Dream Ice Tool1 lb 5.0 oz.+ Adjustable grip to help switch from climbing ice to dry tooling
+ Adjustable trigger finger ledge and X-Rest insert to create a custom hand fit
Petzl Ergonomic Ice ToolPetzl Ergonomic Ice Tool1 lb. 6.4 oz.+ Double handled design meant to maximize power
+ Thick pick for high torque scenarios like dry tooling
Black Diamond Reactor Ice ToolBlack Diamond Reactor Ice Tool1 lb. 5.5 oz.+ Dual density grip for a comfortable fit for all hand sizes
+ BD Natural ice pick is thin and narrow to penetrate ice easily
Grivel Dark Machine Ice ToolGrivel Dark Machine1 lb. 1.3 oz.+Incredibly light design for long days and multipitch routes
+ Composite shaft and full carbon handle for lightweight toughness
Petzl Nomic Ice ToolPetzl Nomic Ice Tool1 lb. 4.6 oz.+ Serrated steel point at the bottom of handle for use during approaches
+ Ergonomic handrests for 3 position comfort with any hand size
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