Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Climbs steep ice well, sweet slider pommel.
Cons: Doesn't self arrest as well as other ice axes, expensive, heavy for basic mountaineering.
Best Uses: Steeper snow and ice routes.
New in the summer of 2009, the Petzl Sum'Tec is a hybird ice axe/ice tool. It sports a modular and durable hot-forged pick with a fixed adze. The Sum'Tec climbs ice better than any other axe in this review and is easily compared with basic (less dramatically curved) alpine ice tools. You can carry two of them and easily climb more difficult water ice. It is durable and its only drawback is the fact it is on the heavier side for ice axes (but lighter than other modular tools). The slider pommel is cool; it turned nearly everyone's head.
This is one of the heavier ice axes we tested and a little overkill for moderate routes. But if you climb a lot of steeper terrain, this ice axe is tough to beat. Along with the Petzl Summit and the Grivel Evolution, it is the best step chopping and platform digging axe we tested. Compared to the Black Diamond Venom, it was more expensive but lighter and easier to climb leashless.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The hot-forged pick is durable and isn't so curved that it much affects its self-arresting ability. The upper section of the shaft is curved, which provides good clearance during ice climbing or in the snow. The Sum'Tec is the best ice climber in the review with the Black Diamond Venom not too far behind. Another benefit of the Sum'Tec is that it kept our hands drier during mid dagger (Piolet Manche). We love the Trigger rest, far superior to the Grivel "Horn." It locks into place but is easy to stow out of the way. The hole in the center of its head easily facilitates use as an improvised anchor. This axe is easy to drive even into hard snow. The adze is, along with the Summit, the best in the review for chopping steps quickly and effectively no matter how firm the conditions. The Sum'Tec is relatively pleasant carry.
The biggest disappointment is the fact that there is no hammer option and no other pick options. It is one of the heavier tested axes but is is a little lighter than the Venom.
It is good for general mountaineering routes and excels when the terrain gets steep. Its main drawback for moderate mountaineering routes is that it only has a reverse curve pick, which is overkill. The reverse curve is not as useful as a classic positive pick on mellow routes with no steep terrain. It is a steep snow and ice-crushing machine that also works sensationally as a leashless ice tool.
At $175 it is more than the similarly designed Black Diamond Venom. But for that extra $33 you get a hot-forged pick, half an ounce of weight savings and a sick slider palm instead of a more traditional leash.
— Ian Nicholson
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Most recent review: September 27, 2011
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