Image of the June 2017 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
June 2017 Issue
Home / Articles / Gear Guides

2017 ice axe buyer’s guide

An ice axe is a crucial tool for those wanting to take their tramping above the snow line. It gives an extra point of contact to the slope and can provide a means to stop yourself should you slip. They’re best used in conjunction with crampons. 

Length
If you are looking for an axe to take your tramping above the snowline, a shaft between 60-70cm should be fine. Shorter axes can be used, but are generally designed for more technical climbing.

Reverse or classic curved pick?
If you’re mainly angling up snow slopes, then a classic curve is more comfortable under your hand. If you are swinging your axe into alpine or water ice, get a reverse pick.

Shaft types
A straight or slightly curved shaft is best for tramping and basic climbing. Heavily curved shafts tend to be for specialised use and are not suited to general climbing conditions.

Leashes
The leash will prevent a dropped axe skating for miles down the slope. If your chosen axe does not come with a leash, get one.

Axes and crampons
While an axe gives you something to shove into the snow as you kick steps up a slope, when you start to descend, things become trickier. As a rule, if you’re taking an ice axe then you should be taking crampons.

Black Diamond Venom $299.99
For alpinists and ski mountaineers. Features a fully interchangeable pick, stainless steel head and spike, sliding FlickLock pommel, ergonomically-shaped aluminium shaft, dual density grip. 50cm. 528g. www.southernapproach.co.nz
Petzl Ride $185
Ultra-light axe for ski touring or glacier travel, steel head, tapered to 3mm for ice penetration, curved shaft, machined grip for handling. 45cm. 240g. www.spelean.co.nz
SMC Capra from $159.99
Alpine tramping axe with ergonomically shaped chromolly steel head and spike, aluminium shaft, steel spike with carabiner hole. 60cm, 65cm, 70cm, 75cm, 80cm, 100cm. 453g (60cm). www.gearshop.co.nz
Faders Courage from $179.99
Mountaineering axe with slightly curved alloy shaft, steel head and spike, rubber handle, carabiner hole. 60cm, 66cm, 72cm. 453g (60cm). www.gearshop.co.nz

 

Support Wilderness

Since 1991, Wilderness has had one simple goal: to help Kiwis ‘See more, do more, live more’ of New Zealand.

If you value our mission, please consider subscribing. As a loyal supporter, you’ll receive these benefits:

  • New Zealand’s best outdoor journalism We’ve won multiple awards for our journalism and magazine production.
  • NZ’s best trips. Browse more than 610 trips with downloadable maps and route notes.
  • Trustworthy gear reviews. Each month we review gear we’ve been bashing and thrashing for months so you can determine if its worth your money.
  • Member benefits. Our WildCard provides discounts at more than 20 partners throughout New Zealand.
  • Your support goes a long way. Your subscription will help us fund NZ’s best outdoor journalists and writers and ensure Wilderness will be there to inspire the next generation of outdoor Kiwis.

A subscription costs as little as $7.00/month for instant access to all articles, trips, gear reviews and gear guides.

View all our subscription options and join the club.

Already a subscriber? Login Now.