AWESOME ICE CLIMBING TOOLS!!!
I love these tools! I used Quarks on hundreds of routes over the years...vertical ice, alpine ice and mixed routes (new route on Denali Light Traveler and first free ascent of the Moonflower Buttress done with Quarks), snowboard descents and mixed (before the Ergo and Nomics). When mixed climbing I add a "ball" to match onto, just above the rubber grip. I do this by taking duct tape, give er' a couple full raps then unroll 2' of tape and while it is still on the roll, twist the sh#t out of it so it is tightly twisted and stuck to itself, then keep wrapping around and repeat as necessary to get the size "ball or match grip rest" you desire then finish it off with a stickier tape and throw some strips of skateboard deck grip tape on there for ultimate holding power! That, along with the stock grip-rest will have you matching your way to the top, whether mixed terrain, steep ice or traversing on easier ground...
The Quark swings better than any ice tool out there. Try to demo all the tools you can and you will see for yourself. The picks penetrate well without shattering the ice. I go with two hammers so as to not risk opening up my face (not that a hammer back into my face if the tool pops, won't open me up, just less so than an adze!) I can use the pick (maybe not quite as efficiently, but worth it for safety) to cut through crap ice or dig a ledge out of the ice. I recommend going leashless, even with the Quarks. Free yourself up. It is the now. You may get more pumped, but that is because you are most likely over-gripping. Relax that grip to just before you slip off and that is how much you need to hold on, not any more! Also, going leashless lets you have less of a cluster fuck by not needing to unclip your clipper leash or pull your hand out of a traditional leash, or worse still, having your tool dangle from your wrist as you are throwing in a screw, clip a draw and get that rope in (all while your heart rate is going through the roof as your leg is doing a sweet Elvis impersonation - yes your leg and not you because you don't control it at this exact moment - maybe you will regain control as soon as you clip in to a good screw)! These tools plunge well, both with and without the grip-rest. The spike is the bomb and bites very well. There are two types of picks to choose from and they are both great!
Bottom line: the best all around (steep ice/mixed/alpine ice etc.) ice ax on the market! If you are going to get one tool that does it all, the Quark is the one.
For more in depth reviews check out my website: www.stephenkoch.com