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Ice axe choice

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
 Gav89 15 Jun 2020

Hi I have done some indoor ice climbing, and want to get my own axes and do some outdoor ice climbing.

 Do ice climbing axes need to have adze and a hammer on them. As I have been looking at the dmm apex, but now seen the black diamond reactor I no the reactor is a B rated pick and don't have a adze or hammer will that matter?  Or is the dmm a better choice? 

 JStearn 15 Jun 2020
In reply to Gav89:

Like most things, it depends. Where are you looking to climb and what sort of grades? If Scotland then at the least you will want a hammer for placing gear. Some people like 2 hammers for Scottish winter. If you want to do alpine routes then I personally like an adze/hammer combination because the adze ends up being useful for general digging about and is more comfortable (for me) when used as a piolet. If you are wanting to climb pure ice routes, then you can go without either, although I would probably still want the mini hammer on a Nomic for example. Looking at your two options, they are quite different tools and can't really be compared; the Reactor is more technical and generally going to perform better on steeper routes. Hard to recommend one over the other without knowing what sort of routes you intend to do. Either way, most technical tools are modular so you can add an adze/hammer based on your objective.

 DaveHK 15 Jun 2020
In reply to Gav89:

If you're just starting out I'd say the Apex is the better choice. Or equivalents like Petzl Quarks or Singing Rock Bandit.

 Gav89 16 Jun 2020
In reply to JStearn:

I don't really know what sort of climbing I will be doing to start. I would be in Scotland to start with, the advice you have said is very helpful. I think the black diamond reactor would be to much and I think I will need a hammer and adze to start with. 

 Gav89 16 Jun 2020
In reply to DaveHK:

Hi I used the petzl quarts on the indoor wall it was I nice feeling axe, and that's why I like the apex as I like dmm and its a similar style.

 LucaC 16 Jun 2020
In reply to Gav89:

Most modern axes are pretty good, some are just made specifically for certain things. Here are some thoughts:

The Apex/Quark/Viper are decent 'all around' choices. 

For Scottish mixed I would use T rated mixed picks as they last longer and are a little less flexible.

For ice I would use B rated ice picks.

You don't 'need' a hammer. I climb with a pair of BD Fuels without a hammer and just use the side of the axe for bashing things. Having a hammer will save some wear on your tool.

An adze is useful for clearing snow and ice. I find it scary having a big blade near my face when I climb harder mixed so again, I don't have one on my climbing tools.

For alpine use, or Scottish walking/scrambling (where you aren't waving your axes above your head) an adze makes it more comfortable to hold, easier to self arrest,  and obviously is useful for digging/clearing. The straighter the shaft, the more useful the axe on easier terrain. 

3
 DaveHK 16 Jun 2020
In reply to Gav89:

> Hi I used the petzl quarts on the indoor wall it was I nice feeling axe, and that's why I like the apex as I like dmm and its a similar style.

Either would be good. If you want a usable adze and hammer the Quark is probably better, those on the apex are quite small. I had Switches and it's the same head. 

> I think the black diamond reactor would be to much and I think I will need a hammer and adze to start with

I think you've hit the nail on the head with that. You may or may not reach a point where you feel you don't need those things but they're not going to hold you back and they're certainly useful at some points. Plus a more traditionally shaped tool is nicer to use on moderate terrain. The likes of a Reactor really only start to make sense at Scottish V and don't fully come into their own until harder still.

Post edited at 09:37
In reply to Gav89:

> Hi I have done some indoor ice climbing, and want to get my own axes and do some outdoor ice climbing.

I still find the idea of "outdoor ice climbing" sort of funny!

Where do you reckon you are going to go ice climbing? There aren't many places (and none in the UK really) where you can just "do some outdoor ice climbing" without an awful lot more mountaineering to get to the ice climbing and a lot more mountaineering to get down safely. 

If you are going to go down the standard UK route of winter hillwalking -> easy snow climbs -> steeper snow and ice climbs -> ice climbing (mainly steep gullies but the more rarely icefalls) you should probably start off with a decent all round classic ice axe for walking and steep and snow and then one technical tool to pair it with for steeper stuff. Then get  pair for that technical tool when ever you start climbing grade IIIs or thereabouts regularly. If you live in the Scottish highlands (or the Central Belt if you have drive) you could probably start building up that experience reasonably quickly getting out most weekends. For most of us in the UK south of there getting chance to winter climb or walk regularly is considerably harder, either in the time it takes to get up to Scotland or because of the unreliable winters the Lakes and Wales seem to predominantly have.

In reply to Gav89:

A pair of Petzl Sumtecs would be a good all round option

 Kirill 16 Jun 2020
In reply to Gav89:

Both adze and hammer are very useful.
Adze:
- digging in search of gear
- building snow belay (bucket seat, t-slot, snow bollard, etc)
Hammer:
- placing and removing pegs
- hammering in nuts and hexes for added security

 Gav89 16 Jun 2020

Thank you everyone for your help and advice. 

 HammondR 16 Jun 2020
In reply to Gav89: it really does depend where and what you are climbing. In my Scottish climbing heyday I would probably have been a gonner without an adze. In difficult conditions I recon I pulled over more rotten bulges with the Charlet Moser Barracuda adze than with the pick. It was like a giant trenching tool.

 tehmarks 16 Jun 2020
In reply to Gav89:

If you don't have an adze, how are you going to tunne through the massive cornice at the the top of your route?

 Gawyllie 17 Jun 2020
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:

> A pair of Petzl Sumtecs would be a good all round option

I can second this idea. I bought a second hand pair of the old ones (Azterix?) and they done me for my first 10 years of my mountaineering and climbing (up to and inc. ~IV) before I felt the need for something more technical. 

The Result now is that I still have a good, light all round set of axes for easier stuff, summer alpine and expeditions as well as more technical ones for harder mixed and ice i'm now climbing.

If you fancied you could buy some grip tape and an extra trigger for the sumtek to make them feel like more like quarks while still having the option to strip this to back a basic axe.

I find a hammer very useful in Scotland. This depends a lot on where you are climbing though but you would certainly miss it on many routes in Lochnagar. 

Post edited at 08:30
 DaveHK 17 Jun 2020
In reply to HammondR:

> it really does depend where and what you are climbing. In my Scottish climbing heyday I would probably have been a gonner without an adze. In difficult conditions I recon I pulled over more rotten bulges with the Charlet Moser Barracuda adze than with the pick. It was like a giant trenching tool.

My first axes were MT Vertige with just such an adze. I thought it was a great feature and one I couldn't live without. Then I got axes that didn't have it and I never missed it! To be fair though I think the style of climbing I was doing changed a bit too. Modern tools wouldn't work this way anyway due to the curve.

Post edited at 09:36

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