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Black Diamond Raven Pro Review

   
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Ice Axes

  • Currently 3.4/5
Overall avg rating 3.4 of 5 based on 5 reviews. Most recent review: August 11, 2010
Street Price:   Varies from $96 - $100 | Compare prices at 8 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, light weight.
Cons:  Doesn't penetrate hard ice well.
Best Uses:  General mountaineering, moderate snow routes, alpine rock routes.
User Rating:     
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 (2.5 of 5) based on 4 reviews
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
Review by: Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ January 16, 2010  
Overview
The Black Diamond Raven Pro is 2.5 ounces lighter and slightly more expensive than its little sibling, the Black Diamond Raven, and shares the Raven's comfortable head, the most comfortable we tested. A redesigned pick in 2009 brings a slight increase in steep snow and ice performance. This Ice Axe has a superbly designed adze that chopped steps nicely. It is an excellent all-around ice axe for moderate snow and glacier routes. It excels where weight is an issue such as on alpine rock routes and more challenging ski mountaineering terrain.

If you love all of the features of the Raven but want a little less weight, then this is the ice axe for you. Along with the other Ravens, it is the most comfortable ice axe for either self-arrest or self-belay positions. It is a perfect axe for general mountaineering and is maybe light enough for adventure racers and early season backpackers. It is the second lightest axe to have a real spike and comes at a good price.

View our complete Ice Axe Review to see how this product compared to others.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Likes
Next to the Ushba Altai, the Black Diamond Raven Pro is the lightest ice axe in this review to have a real spike. Like the rest of the Raven family, it has a comfortable head to hold either in self-arrest or self-belay (Piolet Cane) positions. The adze digs out tent platforms quickly and efficiently, performing better than an Ushba Altai and is just a step behind the CAMP Neve. The holes in the head and adze easily facilitate its use as a snow anchor. It is one of the easiest to clip of any axe in the review. It is tied for "smoothest self-arresting axe" with the rest of the Ravens, the REI Yeti and the SMC Capra. The head pounds snow pickets wonderfully and didn't show immediate signs of wear.

Dislikes
When it comes to penetrating hard ice, the pick performs only slightly above average. However, it is improved from the pre-2008 Raven Pro that was slightly below average. On steep, firm snow and ice, it performs slightly better than the Ushba Altai, about the same as the SMC Capra and Camp Neve and slightly worse than a Petzl Summit or Petzl Snowalker.

Best Application
Similar to the Raven, the Raven Pro is a perfect axe for general mountaineering. Its weight saving is small but it is enough to make "carry over" climbs not such a big deal. It is maybe light enough for adventure racers and early season backpackers. Ski mountaineers who desire a real spike will love this axe. It is not ideal at semi-steep snow and ice climbs (40-60 degrees) or on routes where it might be paired with another ice tool. However, in a pinch it could work.

Value
You pay an extra $20 over the Raven to save 2.5 ounces. For many, that is worth it, especially considering it is $130 less expensive than only lighter axe with a spike: the Ushba Altai.

Other Versions
Black Diamond Raven and the Black Diamond Raven Ultra

Ian Nicholson

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: August 11, 2010
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (2.5)

0% of 1 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 67%  (2)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 33%  (1)
Sort 4 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Jan 16, 2010 - 12:36pm
xtrmecat · Climber · Kalispell, Montanagonia
I've carried and used this axe for two entire seasons now, and it is considerably lighter than the one it replaces. For a no frills axe it has it all, although cost was higher than some of the other choices. It has had three lives on it and so far so good. Even a Federal Judge would agree, huh James?

Light, strong, buries the shaft easily to anchor, chops steps pretty fast and clean, and just feel good to pull on. If I had to buy again, this would still be the purchase I would make.

Bob
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Aug 11, 2010 - 02:00pm
 
SteveW · Climber · The state of confusion
I personally like the BD Raven better. On Denali in 2003 one of
my partners had a Raven Pro and I had the Raven. The Raven proved
to be a much better ax for clearing ice to create a tent site--
the Raven Pro was much too light for such a task. Here's a situation
where the heavier tool did the job better. So if you're going to
use it for BIG mountains, take that into consideration.
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Mar 10, 2010 - 07:16pm
 
clockclimb · Climber · Orem, Utah
You can't miss with this if you want a light axe. I have used mine mountaineering several times and love it. Very nice to grasp, seems very durable and aesthetically pleasing.
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   Feb 2, 2010 - 01:03pm
Old5Ten · Climber · Berkeley, CA
I can only repost a review I wrote for summitpost a few years back:

Spike does not penetrate well on harder snow and ice. One could say that it was the conditions that we experienced, but the Gazelle used a Charlet Moser Pulsar Evolution with great success, when my Raven Pro slid all over the place. The weight saving was definitely not worth the insecurity.

Old5Ten

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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Black Diamond Raven Pro Ice Axe
Credit: Steve
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Seller Price
Amazon $95.95  -  4% off!
Backcountry $99.95
REI $99.95
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Related Best-in-Class Review
Picking the Best Ice Axe

Picking the Best Ice Axe

We looked at 14 different ice axes and compared them head-to-head on tasks from self arrest to chopping steps.
Helpful Buying Tips
How to Choose the Best Ice Axe - Click for details
 How to Choose the Best Ice Axe

by Ian Nicholson
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