Besides the new shoes I’m really psyched about my new axes. This spring I bought one of these for testing and now I’ve bought a second one to make them a pair.
The axe in question is Simond Fox Carving. It’s a small and very lightweight ice axe with a technical steel pick. The axe weights only 290 grams each which is about half of your proper axe. Simond says it’s ideal for ski-touring, mixed and high altitude routes but I use it for summer alpine. It’s, of course, not the best axe for pure ice routes but it’s a very good tool for mixed routes with some moderate ice climbing. During the summer I used it on both the Traverse of the Meije and the Traverse of the Jorasses.
Compared to a proper axe the Fox is much lighter and a little bit shorter (43cm vs. 50cm). Both are very good qualities if you have to carry it in the pack on harder rock pitches. On ice it’s good enough for anything up to WI4 maximum. On harder pitches or if the ice is really hard you’ll notice the lightness since the penetration is not as good. In real life this translates to hitting a couple of times more to get good purchase. Since the axe is very light this is easy work and no problem, though.
I’ve modified my ices with a fang. They don’t have it out of the box but it’s easily installed. Simond sells the trigger kit as an accessory. The kit has self drilling screws but if you want to make it really professional you’ll need a drill and some rivets. The fang is slightly too wide out of the box but a gentle tap with a hammer will make it more narrow. I used 4mm rivets on mine and the installing took less than half an hour.
In the future I plan on using these axes a lot on certain type of routes. I’ve bought the second axe for routes with more easy ice climbing. Such routes are, for example, the Frendo Spur and the Peuterey Integrale. With these axes I’ll shave off 600 grams of weight compared to a pair of my regular ice axes but I don’t loose any climbing ability. My regular axes, Simond Anacondas, weight 610 grams each with a hammer. For comparison, a Petzl Quark weights 550 grams each and a Black Diamond Viper weights 620 grams each.
– Lightweight and compact.
– Technical steel pick.
– Price (79 euros each).
– No hammer head for hammering in pitons.
– There’s no trigger out of the box.