Gear Review: Climb X High Mountain Axe

A high-performance axe for an unbeatable price.

[great value]

From Chile to the Tetons, this axe matched our testers’ old favorites for performance—at almost half the price. An aluminum shaft cuts weight down to a minimal 15 ounces, and the chromoly steel head and spike add durability and heft where you need it. Testers practiced self-arresting, digging anchors, and kick-stepping up a steep couloir while postholing the axe for balance, and the High Mountain aced each task. It’s too straight for technical use on steep or vertical ice, but for anything else this is an excellent piolet. The head of the axe is positioned slightly farther forward than you’ll find on most axes, which gives you more leverage when jamming the pick into snow or ice (a key feature when self-arresting). An axe this cheap and effective is especially appealing for alpine treks where you’re not certain if you even need a tool: It won’t break the bank, but you’ll be damn glad you brought it “just in case.” Available in 60cm, 65cm, and 70cm lengths. $50; 15 oz. (60cm version);

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