Petzl Summit| $169.95 petzl.com ★★★★★
It’s easy in this era of leashless tools to forget our roots, that the very thing that for over 100 years has anchored us to the mountains themselves is the trusty piolet. The Petzl Summit is the classic ice axe with modern upgrades. It has an aluminum shaft (52, 59 and 66 cm) with a rubberized grip that extends from the stainless-steel spike clear to the tool’s forged chromoly head. Although rubber grips add weight and price to a tool, I’m a believer. Coated shafts are easier to grip than bare ones and don’t suck the heat from your hands, and the Petzl version is especially well done. A light texture gives it even more grip, but the shaft is otherwise clean and you can easily plunge it into hard snow. A slight bend in the shaft gives extra clearance for thwacking over ice bulges, but it isn’t so pronounced you have to alter your natural swing.
Thirty years ago, I learned to ice climb with a tool similar to the Summit, but had since forgotten how well a tool of this design climbs. Ice up to 70 degrees is no problem and even vertical bits are possible if you concentrate on your technique and balance. After all, some of the world’s greatest waterfall ice routes, including Bridalveil Falls and the Vettisfossen, were first climbed with piolets.
The Summit weighs 1 pound 3 ounces, for the 59-cm version without a leash. The few extra ounces and steel head let you set the pick in water ice, often with one swing, and give the adze enough oomph to chop a stance.
The business end of the Summit, the pick, tapers from a mere 3.5 mm at the tip to a burly 8 mm closer to the head, and has a row of moderately aggressive “milk” teeth. This design and configuration worked well in a variety of ice and hard snow conditions. The tip of the pick did dull immediately when I dinged it on rock. A few swipes with a bastard mill file got it back in proper working order.
Ice up to 70 degrees is no problem and even vertical bits are possible if you concentrate on your technique and balance.
The Summit is a cool tool. Just holding it reminds me of romps up icy alpine gullies and booting up snow slopes to summits shrouded in cloudy apparitions.
ABOUT THE RATING
I deducted one star and gave this tool four stars because it is on the heavy side.