Feb 17, 2011 at 7:13 am #1269288
I borrowed a buddies Black Diamond Raven or Raven Pro Ice axe at around 16oz. I can't remember which one it was but it doesn't really matter for my question. My ice axe purchase will be for snowboardmountaineering and winter climbing in the NY, VT, and NH. Eventually it will include larger American peaks with the goal of doing Denali in many years.
I was looking at the CAMP Corsa, 8 oz, prior to the trip that I borrowed my biddies axe. My big question is I really liked the way the heavier axe felt when I was useing it. Am I going to miss that 8 oz on all my current trips in NY, VT, and NH? Will I need it on larger mountains out West?
Thanks.Feb 17, 2011 at 7:41 am #1697772
I wrote a review about the BD Raven Ultra ice axe some time ago. Maybe it will help you.
Cheers.Feb 17, 2011 at 7:50 am #1697776
Thanks Marco I will check it out.Feb 17, 2011 at 8:35 am #1697802
@dirtbagclimberLocale: Pacific Northwest
I'd guess the Corsa would probably be fine for snowboard mountaineering back east (note: I have no experience in the places you mention, I live in the PNW). Those aluminium-headed axes can be used in pretty much any situation that you are only climbing snow, not ice.
Perhaps I should clarify that what skiers and snowboarders call ice still falls into the realm of snow for climbing purposes.
The Black Diamond axes and the SMC Capra have much nicer ergonomics than the camp axe. I like them better for long periods of use as they reduce fatigue and blisters on your hands. They will also be easier to use on firmer snow, and can be swung into alpine ice such as the side of a crevasse. The extra heft and wider adze is nice when digging t-slot anchors or hacking out tent platforms. A full spike works better than an angle-cut shaft for some techniques in some snow conditions.
A properly-sharpened steel axe of this sort can be pressed into service to climb small sections of harder ice.
Everyone I know who has an aluminium ice axe views it as supplemental to there steel axe, and they choose it when conditions will be appropriate and choose something else the rest of the time. I've read some about the Corsa Nanotech being used much more broadly than the other aluminum-headed axes, but I don't have any personal experience with it.
Personally if I had lots of money I would own a Corsa to supplement my Raven Pro, but I definitely wouldn't give up the Raven Pro.Feb 17, 2011 at 8:02 pm #1698121
@nicktruaxLocale: SW Montana
+1 to Douglas.
Having used and held both the Camp and the Raven Ultra, I steer towards the Raven for overall comfort, range of use/function, and ergonomics. Better adze, better grip, and more weight. While the Corsa has its niche – my vote goes for the more stout of axes unless you don't intend to put the axe to its limits. If you are mainly carrying the piolet for *just in case* self-arrest and often carrying it on your pack, then the Corsa will do the trick. Pick your poison…Feb 17, 2011 at 8:33 pm #1698134
I like the Suluk46Feb 17, 2011 at 8:56 pm #1698144
I have the nanoteck, I find it useful as a walking stick and for self arrest. Where i play i feel having a pick that would stick into ice would be a great help in most cases for the minor added weight.
If i had it to do again it would be the BD axe.Feb 17, 2011 at 9:06 pm #1698146
@nicktruaxLocale: SW Montana
Please tell us why sir…"I like" does not differentiate or delineate . Suluk is good gear, but does not make a burly axe when compared to the BD axes (or others not mentioned). We're talking a potentially life saving tool here. Curiosity and experience drives my inquiry. No harm intended FWIW. Just gleaming the cube : )Feb 17, 2011 at 9:46 pm #1698169
I had a camp corsa and decided this year to get something a bit more stout. I ended up with the grivel air tech racing at 14 ounces and like it quite a bit. The extra weight has been a plus when swinging the axe and the forged head and steel spike have been very durable so far.
Not trying to muddy the waters on specific axe choice, just another +1 for a stronger head and spike being worth the extra weight.Feb 17, 2011 at 9:58 pm #1698170
For snow on summer low altitude climbs where the snow is always soft, just about any ice axe will work. This includes aluminum heads.
If you are going up anywhere you think there will be harder ice, like say a gully on north face at a fair amount of altitude, where either due to a cold night or cold day there will be hard ice then you will need a REAL ice axe. Aluminum need not apply as its not hard enough to hold its edge. Even Steel ice axes wear away their nose fairly quickly on ice and will be dull in short order.
By real, I mean an axe with Weight as well. For instance those who go vertical ice climbing prefer an ice axe with a very heavy head, not shaft, but head. you need said weight for the ability of the pick to stick. We are talking 2+lb ice axes.
For anything say like continuous 45 degree super hard snow or ice climbing in a gully you hadn't planned on crossing or climbing you will wish you had these heavy axes as it is far more efficient to climb with them. You swing once instead of twice or thrice. You will move far faster, and be less tired with a heavy axe compared to a junky light weight axe that will simply bounce off the surface, or barely indent the surface.
Winter time I would never even contemplate taking an aluminum head ice axe into the mountains as it is quite possible to run into bullet hard ice in the winter time even though the majority is fluff on low altitude stuff. THE ONLY TIME an aluminum head ice axe is doable IMO is in the spring/summer on melting snow packs below night time freezing level.
Trying to "save weight" on your ice axe is cutting off your nose to spite your face unless its for only low altitude non north face summer flings. For instance most climbs in the PNW would be fine with a aluminum axe. Mt. Ranier or the North faces of the Pickets or say shucksan is asking for a death wish. Now if you look at the weather before hand and know with certainty you can get up and down in say 24hours and the weather is stable, sure go for it. If you get vacation on "x" days in July and don't have a choice of when you go, I personally would not even think of bringing a light weight ice axe as I would have no idea if the conditions would be favorable to such an implement.
PS. For sure there will be bullet hard ice on Denali west buttress even in the summer time. There are big sections of 45 degree stuff that always has bullet hard ice. Generally with fixed ropes though.
Personally, unless I wanted to only bring an ice axe for general hiking, I would not waste my money on a light weight ice axe as its a limited one trick pony. If I was on the PCT, I would bring an aluminum ice axe through the sierras. Not sure why else I would want one though.Feb 17, 2011 at 10:05 pm #1698171
My Suluk worked well enough for me while trekking in spring snow. I hiked with some guys with a big axe and they maybe 10% fewer swings. The biggest difference was that they bent over less due to their longer axe shafts, although I could have had my axe made longer as well. The only change I desired after chopping many steps and clearing a good bit of trail was a wider adze. For trekking I want either the lightest axe or something several times heavier, but right now I'll stick with a ultralight axe.Feb 18, 2011 at 2:42 am #1698205
Erm you are talking walking I am assuming. I am talking climbing. If you are walking the "swings" are the same. Step, plant, step, plant, step plant. 99% of folks use their axe for walking/trecking fairly steep snow.
Axe length has nothing to do with how many times it is planted. If it does then said terrain isn't steep enough to warrant planting said axe to start with generally speaking unless a slip sends you over a cliff. This is rarely the case.
I agree, nearly every axe does not have a wide enough adze on it for ease of chopping steps or for stopping on steep unconsolidated snow.Feb 18, 2011 at 3:22 am #1698211
Ah, my mistake. I hadn't paid attention that I wandered into this mountaineering forum. I saw the CAMP Corsa and assumed that it was going to be used for trekking since that's the only application I'd use that axe for. While I'd use a Suluk for trekking, I would not use it for mountaineering. Please pardon my diversion.Feb 18, 2011 at 3:49 am #1698215
Don't worry Eugene :-)
It's easy to deviate from the mountaineering context since BPL is 90%+ about hiking.
However, it's worth to consider all points of view, since some "mountaineering" uses can be considered "advanced walking" :-)
CheersFeb 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm #1698438
Hmm actually for trecking or advanced walking I prefer an alpenstock. They are generally about the length of a standard trecking pole but with a pick for stopping on hard snow/ice. There are some trecking poles made with picks on them for skiiers. I would bet that most BPL folks use trecking poles, so buying a set of skiing self arrest poles wouldn't add much to your base weight. As essentially you are only adding the pick end of the ice axe and using the "handle" as a dual purpose instrument.
I am sorry I forget the brands who actually make such a contraption so I can't post a quickie URL. I do know that they aren't sold on every street corner…
I would check ski mountaineering section though.Feb 18, 2011 at 1:52 pm #1698443
The BD Whippet is an example. A bit heavy, but a good choice in its context.
Cheers.Feb 18, 2011 at 2:44 pm #1698462
i have and use one … its not much heavier than a whippet and is a real axe … you can remove the basket for plunging in snowFeb 23, 2011 at 10:57 am #1700474
Thanks everyone, sorry I was absent on my own thread but it looks like it went on nicely. After reading everyone's comments I realized one BIG thing. I am very new to mountaineering and many of the terms and instances I understand but have never seen them or more importantly climbed them. I am going to go with a "heavier" or "real" axe for now that will help makeup for some of my steep learning curves in mountaineering and in several years when I am looking for a good christmas present I will ask for a light weight axe once I have learned more about ice.
Thanks again for all the help.Feb 23, 2011 at 11:49 am #1700498
@sharaldsLocale: Gallatin Range
I've owned a Raven since '06 and have considered getting a Corsa for about as long. I finally made the decision to get one recently having spent that time making note of just how I used (and didn't use) my axe.
I opted for the 70cm Corsa (I'm 6'-3") because my primary use of the device tends to be snowfield crossing and occasional icy snowboard descents. As a walking aid and a self-arrest aid the Corsa is a great choice because it's rated for these activities and will be lightweight when stowed on your back.
The Black Diamon Raven weighs more than twice as much as the Corsa but as has been well-documented in this thread will be a far superior choice in the event that you're regularly chopping ice steps or looking to use the axe for mixed-terrain technical moves.Feb 23, 2011 at 12:31 pm #1700536
So if I intend to do somewhere between 60:40 and 70:30 snowboard mountaineering: east coast climbing for the next several years I should reconsider my choice of a heavier axe?Feb 23, 2011 at 12:59 pm #1700558
@sharaldsLocale: Gallatin Range
It's really a matter of how much time you'll spend on ice vs. snow. I consider myself a snowboard mountaineer but I think the definition of that term is broad. I spend most of my time climbing either with my skins (and possibly splitboard crampons), a small amount of time bootpacking in snowy/steep terrain, and a very small amount of time on slippery/icy terrain that requires front-points and axe(s).Feb 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm #1700586
I know folks who never take an ice axe but rather when they solo, take trecking poles. The reason being that 3 points in contact with the ground is better than 2. When faced with a tricky situation he simply slowes down and makes very sure firm placements. He does wear boots though. He does glaciers routinely this way. Though I still think he is certifiable in that regard on large glaciers. I did get him to buy a BD whippet reently and he even admitted that he used it once, otherwise I would have been going to his funeral.
I know others that when going up Denali take a trecking pole and a long ice axe. They got away with this because they knew that fixed ropes were in place. Once again 3 contact points is better than 2.
I honestly cannot remember the last time I cut a step(mainly because I typically take and or wear boots/gaitors/crampons when mountaineering). I think it was about 15 years ago when faced with a newbie group, a hard iced snow filled chute across a trail, and a very bad scree field below if one slipped as everyone in the group had tennis shoes on. This was trail walking. 90% of what most folks do. For the 90% factor, most would gladly take the aluminum axe. Especially as you live on the east coast and will be doing most of your hiking out there. Though if you want to do winter stuff… We aren't talking much weight here.
Comes down to, buy 1 "heavier" piece of gear, or buy 2 for different applications. Most can't afford to buy 2 pieces of gear(myself included).Feb 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm #1700623
It's really a matter of how much time you'll spend on ice vs. snow.
In addition, and as pointed previously, the BD Raven is much more comfortable. That is, you should consider time of use (whatever it is) vs. time in the pack.
No easy answer ;-)
Cheers.Feb 23, 2011 at 2:57 pm #1700661
I would say I will be doing more snowboard mountaineering for the next few years atleast. BUT I don't have a split board yet, and really can't see myself making that purchase for several seasons sadly. So snowshoes and boot pack are going to be me elevator. The goal of most of my trips will be to keep it on my back as much as possible. I am going to have to give this some more thought for a bit.Feb 23, 2011 at 10:16 pm #1700868
The goal of most of my trips will be to keep it on my back as much as possible
Then I'd go for a Corsa.
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