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Hands-on Gear Review
Cons: Not as nice to hold.
The Charlet-Moser turned Petzl Snow Walker has been around for quite some time and remains a wonderful general mountaineering ice axe. It penetrates ice and firm snow slightly better, is lighter, and is more durable than most other axes. Its only drawback is it's one of the least comfortable ice axes to hold in self-arrest or self-belay position. The steel head is incredibly durable and will last many seasons of abuse. It is capable of the occasional steep snow climb as long as it isn't too long or difficult.
RELATED: Our complete review of ice axes
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
It features a textured surface for great grip on the shaft, which comes in handy on climbing steeper snow in mid dagger positions. The built-in leash can be a like or a dislike (you can easily break it off if you want). The pick is better than the Black Diamond Raven, REI Yeti or the CAMP Neve for firm snow and ice penetration. It was the best steep ice climber in the sub $100 range. It has a few holes in the adze and in the middle of its head to help establish snow anchors. The hole in the middle of its head is nicer than the CAMP Neve or the SMC Capra and not quite as easy to use as the Black Diamond Raven. The adze holes are a little small. When it came to self-arresting, the Snow Walker was just slightly above average. The adze performed well and its ability became even more apparent when the conditions got harder. In hard ice it performed around the same as a CAMP Neve and better than a Raven, the Ushba Altai, or the REI Yeti. The Snow Walker is on the lighter side of axes we tested. The only axes with real spikes being lighter are the Ushba Alati and the Black Diamond Raven Pro and both are more expensive.
The spike is somewhat rounded, which reduces penetration in hard snow. The built-in leash for some might be a disadvantage. However, the leash isn't difficult to remove. The head of the ice axe is less comfortable than most of the ice axes in this review. It was fairly far behind the Raven and the Capra but still slightly nicer than the Neve.
The Snow Walker is at home in general mountaineering applications. It is light, durable and pretty versatile. It will climb some steeper snow and neve on its own on 40-60 degree terrain. However, it doesnt excel in 60-75 degree ice even when paired with an ice tool. Most backpackers prefer lighter ice axes but the Snow Walker is worth considering.
This is a good value but not quite as inexpensive as the REI Yeti, SMC Capra or the Black Diamond Raven. However, for $10 more than a Raven you get a leash, 1.5 ozs weight savings, an excellent adze and better ice penetration.
— Ian Nicholson
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 15, 2010
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