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Gear Review

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Best alpine/high altitude tool.

I think the only tool that compares to the BD Venom for technical alpine climbs or for high altitude mountaineering, is the Petzl Aztarex- mainly because nothing compares with these two tools for their lighter weight. But during such climbs- especially those with long sections of steep snow- the Venom excels over the Aztarex for a few reasons, but one in particular: it plunges well. The Venom also climbs through technical sections and mixed terrain with great balance and feel- even on vertical and bullet-hard ice- but MOST importantly it climbs securely in steep snow due to a smooth grip/shaft transition and a sharp spike, which is key for self-belay and anchoring. Other tools with molded handles and finger supports do not plunge well, and the Aztarex has a hollow, open shaft which fills up with snow. I've tried and compared many tools from all major brands, and for weight, durability, climbing versatility, leash, and interchangeable picks, nothing currently on the market compares with Venom for alpine climbing. Make sure to buy the Tech Picks, unless you intend to climb only snow- and then you should go for an even lighter tool than the Venom.For climbs with longer hard technical sections or difficult mixed climbing, I prefer the Black Diamond Cobra.

Best alpine/high altitude tool.
Responded on

I'm interesting in using this axe to climb alpine routes like N Ridge of Baker and N Face Shuksan and I'm 6'-2" tall.
1. What length shaft would you recommend for an axe with a hammer?
2. Would you recommend getting the same length Venom w/Adze or would it be just a good to use the 58cm Grivel Air Tech Racing axe I currently own for a second axe on these climbs?