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Backpacker Magazine – Fall Gear Guide 2013
A timeless axe that picks into ice with ease.
Years ago, this axe saved one editor from certain disaster when he had to self-arrest inches from a hidden crevasse as he was descending the “easy” part of a glacier (foolishly) unroped. No surprise he loves this axe. But we’re all longtime fans because its simple design, light-yet-sturdy construction, and mountaineering-oriented features make it perfect for backpackers.
The aluminum shaft may lack the dynamic curves that ice climbers want, but aluminum keeps weight to a measly 18 ounces (for 60cm length), and the straight shaft is better-suited to the upright, walking stance of light mountaineering. The steel spike on the bottom of the shaft bites into even rock-hard snow, and the sharp adze makes short work of chopping steps. For years it’s been our crew’s favorite axe for mountain travel—from peaks in New England to Alaska, and everywhere in between. $80; 18 oz. (60cm); 6 lengths (55-80 cm); blackdiamondequipment.com