Ultimate Guide to Technical Ice Tools and Crampons for Ice Climbing - Part 2

Introduction

Welcome to the second part of our comprehensive review of alpine climbing gear.

In this segment, we delve into the world of tech ice tools and crampons, focusing on equipment designed for advanced ice climbing and mixed routes.

Whether you are an experienced alpinist or an enthusiastic beginner looking to upgrade your gear, this guide will provide you with in-depth insights into the performance, design, and suitability of various technical climbing tools.

 

Technical Ice Axes/Tools

Overview

Technical ice tools are specialized equipment designed to handle steep, vertical, or overhanging ice and mixed rock-and-ice routes. The ergonomic design, aggressive pick angles, and specialized features of these tools provide climbers with the security and efficiency needed for challenging ascents. The shift towards leashless climbing has transformed the sport, allowing for greater freedom of movement and easier protection placement.

 

 

Black Diamond Cobra





  • Weight: 617g (Adze)
  • Materials: Carbon fiber shaft, stainless steel head

The Black Diamond Cobra is renowned for its sophisticated carbon fiber shaft, which combines strength and lightness. The Cobra's design features a pronounced curve that excels in both ice and mixed climbing scenarios. The carbon fiber construction dampens vibrations, reducing fatigue during prolonged climbs. The two-stage grip provides versatility, allowing climbers to adjust their hand position for optimal control and comfort. The Cobra is compatible with a range of pick options, making it adaptable to various ice and mixed conditions.

Pros:

  • Excellent balance and swing dynamics
  • Durable and lightweight carbon fiber construction
  • Versatile grip options
  • Effective on both pure ice and mixed routes

Cons:

  • High price point
  • Less effective on lower-angle terrain due to aggressive shaft curvature

 

 

Black Diamond Viper

 

  • Weight: 570-595g
  • Materials: Aluminum shaft, stainless steel head

The Black Diamond Viper offers a more affordable yet highly effective alternative to the Cobra. Its hydroformed aluminum shaft provides strength and rigidity while allowing for multiple hand positions. The Viper features an adjustable flick lock handle and a Titan pick, which excels in a variety of ice conditions. 

Pros:

  • Affordable compared to carbon fiber models
  • Adjustable handle for customized grip
  • Durable and robust construction
  • Ideal for a range of ice conditions

Cons:

  • Slightly heavier than carbon fiber models
  • May require additional accessories for optimal performance on mixed terrain

 

DMM Apex

 

  • Weight: 786g
  • Materials: Aluminum shaft, steel head

The DMM Apex is a versatile tool designed for both steep icefalls and extended mountain routes. Its generous shaft curve enhances performance on bulging ice formations, while the comfortable handgrip and efficient swing make it reliable for challenging climbs. The Apex's modular design allows for easy pick changes, adapting to different climbing conditions. This tool is known for its robustness and reliability in extreme conditions.

Pros:

  • Versatile for various climbing scenarios
  • Comfortable and ergonomic handgrip
  • Durable construction
  • Modular design for adaptability

Cons:

  • Heavier than some competing models
  • Bulkier, which might be less ideal for technical mixed routes

 

DMM Switch

 

  • Weight: 717-722g
  • Materials: Aluminum shaft, steel head

The DMM Switch is tailored for extreme technical climbing, with an ergonomic handgrip that excels on steep and overhanging terrain. Despite its slightly heavier weight, the Switch offers an exceptional swing and bite, making it a top choice for serious ice and mixed climbing. The tool's aggressive design provides excellent penetration and stability, even in hard ice conditions.

Pros:

  • Ergonomic design for steep climbing
  • Superior swing and penetration
  • Robust and durable
  • Great for technical ice and mixed routes

Cons:

  • Heavier than some competitors
  • Higher price point

 

Petzl Quark

  • Weight: 460-550g
  • Materials: Aluminum shaft, steel head

    Buy it here

The Petzl Quark is a highly modular tool, easily adaptable for both technical climbs and general mountaineering. Its lightweight design and adjustable trigger finger rest enhance its versatility for various climbing conditions. The Quark's interchangeable components, including picks, hammers, and adzes, allow climbers to customize their setup based on the route. This tool is praised for its balance, ease of swing, and adaptability, making it a favorite among climbers.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and versatile
  • Adjustable trigger finger rest for better control
  • Modular design for easy customization
  • Balanced and efficient swing

Cons:

  • Slightly less aggressive for extreme technical routes
  • Components may require frequent adjustments

 

Petzl Nomic

  • Weight: 605-715g
  • Materials: Aluminum shaft, steel head

Buy it here

The Petzl Nomic is designed for high-performance ice and mixed climbing, offering unmatched precision and control. Its ergonomic handle and adjustable griprests provide excellent stability and comfort during steep ascents. The Nomic's balanced design ensures efficient swing dynamics, making it a preferred choice for elite climbers tackling difficult icefalls and mixed routes. The tool's modularity allows for various configurations, enhancing its versatility.

 

Pros:

  • Superior precision and control
  • Ergonomic handle with adjustable griprests
  • Efficient swing and penetration
  • Highly modular and customizable

Cons:

  • Higher weight compared to some models
  • Expensive

 


Leashes in Ice Climbing

Leashless climbing has become the norm among climbers, allowing for greater maneuverability and ease in placing protection on ice and mixed terrain. While wrist loops are still available, many climbers, including myself, have transitioned away from them over the last decade. The freedom to swap tools and make hand moves without hindrance is a significant advantage.

 

 

Technical Crampons

Overview

Technical crampons are essential for maintaining secure footing on steep ice and mixed terrain. They feature aggressive points and robust construction, ensuring stability and performance under challenging conditions. When selecting crampons, consider the compatibility with your boots, the type of climbing you intend to do, and the specific features that enhance performance and comfort.

 

 

Black Diamond Cyborg

  • Weight: 1080g (Pair)
  • Materials: Stainless steel

The Black Diamond Cyborg crampons are versatile, high-performance tools designed for technical ice and mixed climbing. They feature a semi-rigid design with modular front points, allowing climbers to choose between mono-point and dual-point configurations. The stainless steel construction provides durability and resists snowballing, while the micro-adjust heel bail ensures a precise fit.

Pros:

  • Versatile front point configuration
  • Durable stainless steel construction
  • Anti-snowballing design
  • Precise fit with micro-adjust heel bail

Cons:

  • Heavier than some models
  • May require frequent adjustments for optimal performance

 

Petzl Lynx

 

  • Weight: 1080g (Pair)
  • Materials: Steel

But it Here

The Petzl Lynx crampons offer excellent versatility, with interchangeable front points and adaptable binding systems. They can be set up in mono-point, dual-point, or asymmetrical configurations, making them suitable for various ice and mixed climbing scenarios. The Lynx's modular design allows for easy adjustments and replacement of worn parts, enhancing longevity.

Pros:

  • Highly versatile with multiple front point options
  • Adaptable binding systems for different boots
  • Modular design for easy maintenance
  • Robust and durable construction

Cons:

  • Complex adjustments may be challenging for beginners
  • Slightly heavier than some competitors

 

 

Grivel G14

  • Weight: 1170g (Pair)
  • Materials: Chromoly steel

The Grivel G14 crampons combine the benefits of vertical front points with the stability of horizontal points, making them ideal for technical ice and mixed climbing. The crampons feature an anti-balling plate and a robust construction that enhances performance on varied terrain. The adjustable heel lever and interchangeable front points provide customization options for different climbing conditions.

Pros:

  • Combination of vertical and horizontal points for stability
  • Anti-balling plate reduces snow build-up
  • Adjustable and customizable
  • Durable chromoly steel construction

Cons:

  • Heavier than other models
  • Complex setup may require practice

Petzl Dart

  • Type: Modular technical climbing crampon

But it here

Description:

The Petzl Dart crampons are highly modular, offering versatility through adjustable configurations such as mono point, duo point, or offset duo setups using a single bolt. Designed with an asymmetric shape, these crampons excel in providing precise performance on various surfaces including rock and ice, ensuring they maintain reliability even in challenging winter climbing conditions.

Pros:

  • Modular Design: Easily adjustable configurations (mono, duo, offset duo) adapt to different climbing styles and conditions.
  • Precision Performance: Asymmetric shape enhances stability and precision on both rock and ice surfaces.
  • Versatility: Suitable for a wide range of climbing scenarios, from technical ice routes to mixed terrain.
  • Ease of Adjustment: Single-bolt adjustment system simplifies setup and configuration changes.
  • Durability: Robust construction ensures longevity and resilience during intensive use.

Cons:

  • Price: Higher cost compared to some other crampon models, reflecting its advanced features and versatility.
  • Complexity: Requires familiarity with adjusting and configuring crampon settings, which may be more suitable for experienced climbers.
  • Specific Use Cases: While versatile, may not be the optimal choice for beginner climbers or those primarily focused on less technical routes.


Conclusion

Selecting the right technical ice tools and crampons is crucial for safe and efficient climbing on steep ice and mixed routes. Each tool and crampon reviewed here offers unique features and advantages, catering to different climbing styles and preferences. Whether you prioritize weight, versatility, or precision, there is an option suited to your needs. Remember to consider your climbing objectives and the specific conditions you will encounter when making your choice. Happy climbing!

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