Black Diamond Venom
Black Diamond's Venom ice axes are hybrid piolets that combine design elements of technical ice tools with the proven design of a mountaineering axe.
Black Diamond Venom | $149.95 bdel.com ★★★★★
Black Diamond’s Venom ice axes are hybrid piolets that combine design elements of technical ice tools with the proven design of a mountaineering axe.
Unlike most axes, the Venom, in both hammer and adze models, has an interchangeable pick, a feature that I am most excited about. Though I’ve never broken the pick of a mountaineering axe, I have filed them down into blunt tips, I’ve always wanted the option of replacing them. The Venom hammer comes with a reverse-curve pick called the Tech Pick, while the adze has a traditionally curved Classic Pick. Both picks are great, and I honestly couldn’t tell much difference between them. The Classic was definitely more suited to self-arrest, and the Tech was easier to plant in vertical ice, but in both situations, frequently encountered in the mountains, the tools excelled. Also, the Venom is well balanced, and has a decent head-weight that makes the tool an easy swinger. It’s light, at one pound one ounce, and was easy to swing even over the course of a long day.
The Venom adze will be the one you carry around as you do that silly thing called walking up mountains with snow on them. I carry axes with my thumb under the adze and my hand clasping the top. The Venom carried particularly well, perhaps because the bridge between the adze and head is very thin, and a comfortable fit.
The Venom adze will be the one you carry around as you do that silly thing called walking up mountains with snow on them.
The Venom’s aluminum shaft is thin, and plunges into the snow well, especially due to the no-frills spike at the end. The rubber grip never impeded the plunging action as far as I could tell, but it was sticky and easy to grab. A set of Venom tools, especially if you paired a short hammer with a longer adze tool, could tackle the majority of mountaineering challenges, whether it’s building snow anchors, low-angle terrain, even steep and technical ice. The Venom hammer comes in 50 and 57 centimeter lengths; the adze gives you a choice of 50, 57 and 64 centimeters.
Both models of the Venom come with Black Diamond’s Lockdown Leash, a simple and effective tether suited for use in the mountains.