It is a tough job choosing an ice axe for your mountaineering expedition. There is more to an ice axe than meets the eye. Your Ice axe will help you tell a story about you.
A wrong axe might not penetrate the hard snow leaving you in a very tricky situation. Choose among the best mountaineering axe and you will descend alive and well to share that beautiful memory on your Instagram.
Before making your decision, you need to know all the facts about a mountaineering axe. For this reason, in this article, we have focused on organizing hands-on and product review, the differences between ice axe and ice tool and FAQs. You will find everything that you need to know here.
Additionally, we have also added value and effectiveness as another factor to consider before you make your purchase.
So without further ado, let’s move along and discover the best mountaineering ice axe in 2020.
The top ten best mountaineering ice axes are:
- Camp Cassin X-All Mountain Ice axe – Nominated for best gears list 2018
- Petzl Summit Evo – The best Petzl Ice axe
- Black Diamond Venom Adze – Best ice tools
- Grivel G1 Plus – Voted as a best alpine ice tool
- CAMP Corsa – A must-have mountaineering equipment
- PETZL – Glacier LITERIDE – Strong enough to break any ice
- Black Diamond Raven Ice axe – Best ice tools for alpine climbing
- Grivel G Zero Ice axe – The best among the Grivel
- Petzl – GULLY – The best size axe that you need
- GRIVEL Nepal Self-Arrest axe with Leash 66 – Walking ice axe
Camp Cassin X-All Mountain Ice axe is one heck of an ice axe.
Camp Cassin X-All Mountain Ice axe is a strange beast that looks too classic to really be effective, yet handles ice climbs better than most others. Optimized pick angle and tooth configuration alone ranks this among the best mountaineering ice-axes.
However, an attempt to carve steps with this axe is building a castle in the air.
20 x 12 x 6 inches
The shaft utilizes state of the art tech to present to you this lightweight axe without having to compromise the sturdiness.
While the curved design might be a hassle for the beginners, overall designs offering interchangeable head components serves well.
Should anything go wrong, replacing a component of the axe is simple and affordable. Also, the warranty would take care of most repairs.
Optimized pick angle and tooth configuration help to climb all angles of ice with remarkable ease.
The spike is large enough to grip on the low angle glacier ice.
Additionally, the axe has a hole large enough to clip a metal carabiner for use with your favourite lanyards.
Camp Cassin X-All Mountain Ice axe is mostly effective for thin ice climbs rather than aggressive alpine summits.
For the durability, effectiveness, and versatility Camp Cassin X-All Mountain Ice axe possess, the purchase will be worth it.
- Digs in easily
- Trendy design
- Warranty available
- The axe can get stuck easily
- The curved design might be a hassle for beginners
When mountaineers get in fights over the best mountaineering axes available, the name Petzl is highly likely to come up. The classic T-shaped design draws as many critics as it does convert. If you don’t love it from the first swing you could soon end up cursing it. Having said that, you’ll love the deeply twisted handles for steep tooling.
21 x 10 x 2 inches
Unlike most other ice axes, the handle of Petzl Summit Evo is made of anodized aluminium that resists rust.
Additionally, the adze has a handle cut into it to provide a better grip.
The stainless outer layer and rust-proof materials increase the durability of the ice axe.
The upper part of the shaft is curved for good clearance when climbing. The lower part is straighter to provide efficient penetration in snow.
Both the head and spike are equipped with holes for clipping a carabiner or attaching a sling. The SUMMIT EVO ice axe is compatible with any leash.
The SUMMIT EVO ice axe has a thin toothed tip for good anchoring in hard snow and ice. The middle layer is thickened to anchor in soft snow.
The SUMMIT EVO is the effective tool of choice for all types of alpine trips.
SUMMIT EVO ice axe is light enough for longer treks and climbs while still weighing enough for good anchoring power which makes it an excellent tool for any expedition.
Definitely worth the value, and even more!
- Rust-proof handle
- Long grip
- Old-school design
If you’re new to mountaineering and are worrying about the technical aspects of the ice axe during climbing, worry no more!
We present to you the fan-favourite Black Diamond Venom Adze. This ice axe serves half as a technical ice tool and half as a classic piolet, ideal for steep alpine climbs on mountaineering routes where some overhead swinging may be involved.
23 x 15 x 4 inches
The straight pick’s handle is made of a light but strong Chromoly steel which makes it an ideal choice for self-arresting.
The curved shaft utilizes aluminium for the lightweights, while the head is made up of stainless steel. These two components prevent rust and corrosion of the material keeping the axe shiny and solid for long.
The grip is comfortable and the adjustable flick lock is easy to move. Sometimes the lock comes undone easily so we recommend using electrical tape over it.
The adze is sharp enough to chop ice and the pick can be swapped out if desired. This gear can be your go-to axe for routes not requiring ropes.
Black Diamond Venom Adze is an overall great axe for mountaineering and winter adventures. However, if you’re planning for a hardcore alpine summit, you will need some additional ice axes. Keep reading further to explore them!
The value might be a discouraging factor for some shoppers, however, the exceptional durability Black Diamond Venom Adze possess offers perfect requite against the bills.
- Works well for mixed climbs
- Slightly expensive
- The lock comes undone easily at times
A tool like the Grivel G1 Plus works well on steep, technical ice and mixed terrain. The straighter-handled shaft and functional adze are the best components of this technical tool, and it is at this all-round mountaineering that the Grivel Light Machines excel in.
Perhaps the best feature of Grivel G1 Plus is the natural rubber grip which allows it to be used leashless, whilst also allowing the whole shaft to be easily plunged into hard snow. They climb well too!
28 x 12 x 3 inches
One thing you will instantly notice while you unpack the product is its unique one-piece design that does not have bolts or other accessories that needs assembling.
With no chances of any parts breaking apart and ultra-solid shaft that uses aluminium alloy, this product offers excellent durability.
The hot-forged one-piece axe provides maximum strength and minimal weight. This means versatility with an extremely handy third arm, multi-purpose tool, and so on.
Grivel G1 Plus axe is a classical neutral pick with an ergonomic design that features natural rubber for a stronger grip.
Grivel G1 Plus axe certainly takes the cake as one of the best mountaineering ice axes available in the market in terms of effectiveness.
The sharp and stout peak at the head lets you walk through piles of snow or steep slopes alike, making this an ideal choice for mountaineers.
The Grivel G1 Plus axe undoubtedly is worth the amount you spend for it with its strong shaft, versatile functionality, and durability.
Upon trying this axe, we were surprised to find this axe at such an unbelievably low price.
- Slender Design
- natural rubber for a stronger grip
- Won’t break tough ice easily
Aluminium is a fairly malleable metal, so you’re unlikely to find it on anyone’s list of strongest metals. It’s hard in the world of aluminium materials to think of swinging at a frozen waterfall. But CAMP Corsa makes it surprisingly easy to penetrate ice and snow without having to stress your shoulders and back.
The best part?
This is the lightest axe in the world!
20 x 9 x 4 inches
Superman is known as the Man of Steel, and Ironman doesn’t fight evil by donning high-tech aluminium armour. Does it mean aluminium is not strong and breaks easily?
We thought so too.
However, upon using CAMP Corsa completely made out of forged aluminium, we realized that it is not only strong but also highly durable and will get the job done on most technical climbs.
Forged aluminium pick and adze are ideal for snow travel in all terrains. Also, if you’re in a difficult situation and need to self-arrest, swing the tool and let CAMP USA Corsa do its job.
CAMP USA Corsa can be used as an anchor for glacier rescue and traversing cornices.
Additionally, a Nylon spike plug on 60 and 70cm lengths helps to keep the ice out of the shaft which prevents corrosion and slipping as well.
You can outfit it with a leash if that tickles you for those times when you need a belay, or take it as is.
Thanks to its ultralight and slender design, CAMP USA Corsa serves well on any technical climbs. However, CAMP USA Corsa feels a little short for scaling the high alpines because of the comparatively shorter heads.
This technical gear is lightweight and has a classy look. Also, it will provide extra benefits if you’re in the sketchy traverse into the couloirs. However, you may find some other gears at a similar price range with better performance.
Having said that, CAMP USA Corsa still takes the cake as the ultra-light ice axe that comes with a lifetime warranty.
- Lifetime warranty
- Not the best for steep alpine climbs
The original version of the Petzl Quark was one of the first dedicated leashless tools designed to be used in the big mountains.
The refined second version, PETZL – Glacier LITERIDE was released in 2011. Since then, they have become standard issue for many alpinists, used everywhere from short trade routes to some of the world’s biggest, hardest climbs.
This popularity is due to the fact that they have a natural swing. For the light and fast super-alpinist, the Glacier LITERIDE is one of the lightest technical tools available, with a stripped-down weight of just 320 grams.
23.6 x 11.8 x 2 inches
The GLACIER LITERIDE’s high-quality steel pick is identical to technical ice axe picks, which means you’re getting the performance of high-end gears at less cost.
The anodized aluminium handle prevents rusting, and the manufacturers have provided a limited warranty. It covers any repairs or replacements should anything go wrong with the tool.
GLACIER LITERIDE ice axe features a handle cut into the shaft. It provides you with a better grip when technical ice climbing.
Additionally, the upper part of the pick offers an excellent grip and serves as a comfortable support surface.
This ice axe, unlike most others, provides holes for clipping a carabiner or attaching a sling.
It weighs next to nothing, but it hits snow hard.
GLACIER LITERIDE would be a toss-up depending on the terrain.
You want a great axe that is light and compact while carrying a backpack of climbing gear, and the ability to chop steps into icy surfaces? This is the axe for you.
If you don’t see yourself using the axe for more than the occasional insurance against a nasty slide on the hard ice, keep reading!
GLACIER LITERIDE ice axe undoubtedly qualifies for the best mountaineering axe under USD 100. The compactness and weight of GLACIER LITERIDE are unparalleled to other of the similar price range.
Similarly, the high-quality materials used in the built of this product provide high durability meaning you do not have to purchase another ice axe for years.
- Quite short, so you can’t easily use it as a walking stick
It’s easy in this new world of knobby-handled, leashless mixed tools to lose sight of reality. However, the cold hard fact is that we need tools that will actually climb on ice, and usually need leashes.
Enter the Black Diamond Raven, a high-tech all-terrain tool. The Raven has been out for only a few seasons yet is the talk of the town among keen climbers. The new design rocks. So does cinchable harness that cradles your wrist to minimize pump and maximize confidence for that added peace of mind!
31 x 11 x 2 inches
The quality of the axe is top-notch, thanks to the pick made up of steel and forged shaft. This not only gives Raven a trendy look but also makes it sturdy and highly durable.
The stainless steel and outer coating on the shaft prevent rusting and corrosion.
Additionally, the manufacturers offer a 1-year limited warranty for any defects.
One-piece stainless steel design provides you with that extra strength you need on the toughest of climbs. The use of rubber handle makes it easy-to-grip and comfortable, while dual-density moulded grip that comes equipped with a slider leash easily penetrates hard-packed snow.
Overall, Black Diamond Raven is an exceptional and easy-to-use ice tool.
Black Diamond Raven Ice axe performs excellently and will get you all the way to the cliff face or the summit without any issue.
This ice axe is effective in all kinds of icy terrains regardless of how hard the snow is.
- Dual-density molded grip
- Easy-to-grip and comfortable
- Limited warranty
If you’re tired of your ice axes breaking on you, then you’ll definitely love the Grivel G Zero Ice axe. Grivel G Zero Ice axe’s high-quality construction really shines through in this ice axe model.
Keep in mind that this axe is also surprisingly versatile, as you can use it to self-arrest, or you can create snow anchors or bollards with it with ease.
27 x 11 x 3 inches
Gravel Zero axe features carbon steel construction and a neutral head with a shovel to provide maximum durability and strength.
Additionally, the removable blade cover is designed to reduce hand-to-metal contact which aids in longevity.
Gravel Zero axe is a super light gear for low-gradient alpinism.
The carbon steel construction with the neutral head provides maximum strength and safety whereas the blade cover provides extra comfort.
Also, gripping the axe by the blade stops your hands from getting cold on snowy and icy mountain routes.
Gravel Zero axe utilizes the ergonomic blade cover to increase the grip which reduces the risk of injuries, especially in low temperatures and high altitude expeditions. This makes Gravel Zero a perfect tool to explore the mountains with added safety and comfort.
Also, the carbon-steel used in the making of this ice axe can pierce most snow, and even create steps that can be used in technical climb in high alpines.
- Ergonomic blade cover for better comfort
- High strength
- The diameter of the wrist loop is not adjustable
- No warranty available
The features of the Petzl- GULLY with its timeless simplicity makes it one of the most popular choices among the mountaineering ice axes you can buy.
The banana-shaped body is comfortable for holding in any position so you can be ready in self-arrest, belay, or standard carrying pose.
Don’t know what that means?
Don’t worry! Just know that it won’t wear on your body when you strap on your snowshoes and cart it around any of the 14ers in the Rockies.
18.1 x 2 x 5.5 inches
Steel, aluminium, and nylon together combine to make Petzl- GULLY a strong, sturdy and durable gear. The steel makes the pick that pierces through the hard snow easily whereas aluminium is used in the shaft. These two metals are coated with nylon-based fabric that prevents corrosion and increases the durability of the axe.
The ice axe is tapered to 3 millimetres for efficient penetration and easy unhooking. Also, the minimalist adze helps to hammer the piton back on.
The hand rest doubles as a trigrest that helps to adjust the position of the hand and the index finger into climbing mode quickly.
The spike is bevelled to prevent scratching or any other damage to the bag while carrying.
We recommend you to use additional weight to increase the anchoring abilities.
Petzl – GULLY has been designed as an ultralight axe that performs best at technical mountaineering and steep skiing.
The lightweight material makes the axe hard to anchor in some hard-snow areas which can be prevented by adding some extra weight on the gear.
Overall, with the support of some additional weight, GULLY is a perfect tool for any mountaineering expedition.
- Trigrest for better comfort
- Bevelled spike
- Needs additional weight for better anchoring
- Slightly expensive
Almost everyone has heard of Mt. Everest but not everyone knows the location of the world’s tallest mountain. The answer is Nepal!
With reference to this fact, GRIVEL presents you one of the best mountaineering ice axes of 2020 – Nepal Self-Arrest axe with Leash 66.
It is coated with red, epoxy-based paint. S.A. Shaft accompanied by a red leash which gives it a distinct red colour that serves as visual apparel.
18.1 x 2 x 5.5 inches
The carbon-steel design makes this shaft ultra-durable. The blade is designed in the shape of a shovel which is made from stainless steel. The carbon-steel combo makes sure the axe never gets rusted or corroded.
The shaft has a high resistance rated at 270 B that makes it very strong.
The weight of GRIVEL Nepal is just perfect – it’s neither too light to dig into the snow nor too heavy to carry around. The curved handle is great for making a self-arrest easier for the leverage benefits to any novice mountaineers.
The carbon-steel head features a classically inclined pick with teeth along half its length which makes this an excellent choice for nontechnical climbs.
With high shaft resistance and average weight, Nepal Self-Arrest axe can easily be used as walking poles during treks or hikes in high altitude areas. Similarly, the leash is strong enough and has the adjustment option for persons of different built.
Overall, Nepal Self-Arrest axe is effective in non-technical mountaineering where your goal is to get around without actually summiting the peak.
- Perfect weight
- Adjustable leash
- Trendy design
- Not applicable for technical climbs
Comparison Table of 10 Best Mountaineering Ice Axe
|Items||Dimension (in inches)||Weight (Pounds)||Materials||Technical climb compatibility|
|Camp Cassin X-All Mountain Ice axe||20x12x6||1.45||Steel, Aluminium||✓|
|Petzl Summit Evo||21x10x2||1.85||Steel Anodized Aluminium||✓|
|Black Diamond Venom Adze||23x15x4||1.85||Chromoly Steel||✓|
|Grivel G1 Plus||28x12x3||1.83||Aluminium Alloy||X|
|PETZL - Glacier LITERIDE||24x12x2||0.7||Anodized Aluminium||X|
|Black Diamond Raven Ice axe||31x11x2||1.85||Stainless Steel||✓|
|Grivel G Zero Ice axe||27x11x3||0.95||Carbon Steel||✓|
|Petzl - GULLY||18x2x6||0.6||Steel, Alumunium, Nylon||✓|
|GRIVEL Nepal Self-Arrest axe||18x2x6||1||Carbon-Steel||X|
Criteria We Used for Choosing Best Mountaineering Ice Axe
Note that climbing safety is your responsibility. Expert instruction is absolutely essential if you’re new to climbing.
Naturally, durability is one of the major factors in deciding which mountaineering gear to purchase. Stainless steel helps to remove the dirt and water easily, while the aluminum makes it lightweight. The iron alloy is prone to rust and corrosion but is more sturdy than the rest. Also, the use of the outer coating of materials, different parts used for assembly and warranty offered by the manufacturers all come into account.
While backpacking with all the mountain gears, you will want to decrease your overall weight as much as possible. Here’s where the weight of ice axe matters! Lighter axe will be easier to carry and manoeuvre while walking on snow while the heavier ones will be easier to dig in and more self- arresting.
The ice axe is rated into 2 different categories based on the shaft and picks. B-ratings is tested to 280 kilograms on an ice axe’s pick and shaft. The T rating uses 400 kilograms to test on its pick and shaft.
If you’re planning for basic mountaineering, B-rated ice axe will just do fine. However, for hardcore alpine routes, you will need the one with T-ratings as they will be stronger.
We were nonplussed to find that curve shafts give way better stopping power during self-arrest which gave us more leverage. A better clearance during swing means more useful axe, especially during straight up steeper ice or pulling Burghardt.
One surprise in the tests was that curved shafts increased the stopping power of most ice axes when self-arresting. It gives the user more leverage. The curve in the shaft gives better comfort overall.
The downside, however, is that the curved shaft is marginally harder to drive into the snow when we used it as a vertically-oriented deadman.
What is the use of an ice axe?
The head of the axe is made up of adze and pick. The pick is for self-arresting and hooking into ice. The adze is more on the flatter side and can be used to cut out steps.
Ice axe with long shaft mimics a trekking pole, only shorter. It helps you to maintain balance.
Overall, it is an extremely functional and must-have gear for alpine climbing.
What is the difference between an ice tool and an ice axe?
|Ice Tool||Ice axe|
|Specialized for ice climbing||Intended for general mountaineering|
|Features technical precision||Basic and somewhat technical|
|Curved shaft, sharp pick, and modified adze||Straight-shaped shaft and simplistic head design|
What size of ice axe do I need?
To figure out what length of an ice axe you need, you should stand up straight and hold the ice axe by its head. The spike at the bottom of the shaft should fall between the bottom half of your calf and the top of your ankle. If the spike falls below your ankle, the ice axe is too long for you.
Note that this method does not apply to climbing ice axes but only to ice axes for general mountaineering and glacier travel.
Without starting a debate on semantics, we have used the term to refer to mountaineering axes and ice tools as much as true ice axes for the purpose of this review. Some of the products we have reviewed have the distinctive curve meant for swinging from a hanging position. Others have an axe head on a mountaineering pole. We have spent a huge amount of time and effort trying out gears to search for the axes that are fit for mountaineers with every skill level. So we really hope that you will find something of use to you for scaling that mountain or chopping off the ice.
Table of Content
- 1. Camp Cassin X-All Mountain Ice Axe
- 2. Petzl Summit Evo
- 3. Black Diamond Venom Adze
- 4. Grivel G1 Plus
- 5. CAMP Corsa
- 6. PETZL – Glacier LITERIDE
- 7. Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe
- 8. Grivel G Zero Ice Axe
- 9. Petzl – GULLY
- 10. GRIVEL Nepal Self-Arrest Axe with Leash 66
- Comparison Table of 10 Best Mountaineering Ice Axe
- Criteria We Used for Choosing Best Mountaineering Ice Axe