Some thoughts on the Petzl range of Ice axes
Petzl Summit Evo:
The Summit Evo is designed as a classic mountaineering ice axe and a great tool for all types of alpine mountaineering terrain up to around AD.
It’s lightweight and has a curved shaft, which gives you better clearance when climbing steeper snow or icy terrain.
The head of the ice axe is comfortable to hold when walking and the spike on the bottom penetrates easily into firm snow, giving great security from the tool when on steeper snow. The pick and adze forming the head on the axe are forged as one piece, feeling very solid when cutting steps or making a pick placement in glacial ice.
A great axe for all our introductory or classic alpine mountaineering courses.
The Sum ‘Tec ice axe is becoming popular with both Mountain Guides and those more experienced climbers leading the rope on classic alpine mountaineering terrain. It has some of the benefits of the Summit Evo, but the versatility of having a moveable TRIGREST, which allows a much more secure grip on the ice axe shaft when moving over steeper and more technical terrain. When on easier terrain the Trigrest can be slid up out the way under the head of the ice axe so that you can still drive the shaft down into the steeper snow when walking or climbing.
The Petzl Quark is the all-round classic. It’s designed for both summer and winter alpine mountaineering whether that’s climbing alpine north faces, snow and ice gullies, Scottish mixed routes or just pure ice.
The latest reincarnation of the Quark is that the headset is modular and has the addition of the Trigrest finger grip. The new headset means that the tool can be set up with either a hammer or adze, or neither – which will really cut down on weight. (Without hammer or adze the tool weighs only 450g). The new TRIGREST is again a great feature, allowing your grip on the axe to be easily adjusted for comfort and maximium security, which is key to leashless climbing.
The Quark comes supplied with the ice pick designed with ice in mind but although being T-rated, it should stand up fine to being torqued into cracks during mixed climbing in the UK. The Quark’s moulded handle provides a good grip, and insulation from the cold. The lower part of the shaft penetrates snow perfectly when the ice axe is used without the griprest. The shaft is T rated so can be used as a belay.
The Quark, coupled with the Summit Evo is a great set of ice axes for pretty much all your climbing activities.
The only addition I have to my ice axe collection is the Nomic. I’ve been using Nomics for over 10 years and I love these very technical tools when climbing steep waterfall ice, dry tooling or mixed climbing both in the Lakes, Scotland or the Alps.
These are very specific tools. The very comfortable and shaped ergonomic handle is great when on very steep rock or ice but useless on any approach when moving over more moderate and classic mountaineering terrain. The handle at the bottom of the shaft doesn’t allow you to drive the shaft into steeper snow on any approach or descent when and so gives little or no security.
Having said that, if you’ve considered the approach and descent and weighed up the route that you’re heading into, the Nomic is second-to-none. The curve on the shaft allows you to move around the steepest of ice bulges and features and the weight is perfect for throwing the pick into the ice with the flick of a wrist.
I have small hands and use thinner gloves on any steep pitch and then warmer gloves to belay, but if you do have big hands then the Nomic possibly isn’t for you. On the axe handle, there are three settings, small to large. Both small and medium give the climber great security from a solid grip when climbing leashless, but in the large position you lose all that security and feeling of confidence as the grip feels too open. If you’re buying these tools, first try them with gloves on!
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