Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $136 - $170 | Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros: Well-designed, hot-forged pick, nice adze.
Cons: Expensive, heavy.
Best Uses: General mountaineering, steeper snow and ice climbs.
Packed full of technical features, the Petzl Summit is capable of almost anything you ask from your ice axe. Its hot-forged steel head means the pick is very durable. It scores near to top of the pack for self-arresting and is one of the better ice axes for steep snow and ice climbing. It sports a slightly curved, rubber-coated shaft that increases its technical performance and grip. The adze is one of the best I tested. Its design, combined with the hot forging, makes chopping steps and tent platforms in the hardest ice not quite as painful a chore.
It climbs steeper routes well on its own for 40-60 degrees or, paired with another ice tool, in 50-75 degree terrain. It weighs slightly more than some other axes. But what it loses in weight it makes up for in performance. If you are on a budget or don't ever need the performance of an axe like this, then look elsewhere. Ski mountaineers, early season backpackers and adventure racers might want something lighter. But climbers looking for an ice axe for a broad spectrum of routes won't be disappointed with the Summit.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The hot-forged pick is strong and the head doesnt get banged up, even after seasons of picket pounding and abuse. A dramatic difference in the width of the pick is a plus. It is narrower in the front for better ice penetration and wider further back for steep snow climbing. It performed about the same as theGrivel Evolution and better for ice than all other non-modular axes. It is one of the smoother self-arresting axes in the review; just a notch below the Ravens but better than the Ushba Altai Titanium. Like the other ice axes with a slight curve, it gives added "power" while self-arresting. The teeth on top of the pick are nice although most people won't use that feature for piolet rampe. The Summit tied the Petzl Sum'Tec for best adze and cut icey T-slots like a champ.
The shaft has a textured rubber coating that at first glance may seem like an unnecessary and heavy feature. However, the rubber coating adds almost no weight and provides a more solid grip when in piolet manche (mid dagger). The coating also provides slight thermal insulation. The head is equipped with nice holes, facilitating the building of a dead man better than a SMC Capra but not quite as well as a Black Diamond Raven or Raven Pro. The shaft has a curve that helps with clearance during snow and ice climbing. It is in the middle of the pack for carrying comfort better than a CAMP Neve or Grivel Evo and not quite as nice as a Black Diamond Raven or a REI Yeti.
The rubber coating and curved shaft make plunging the shaft slightly more difficult. The adze works wonderfully while chopping steps and other icy digging situations, but in slightly less firm snow conditions it has a tendency to cut through the snow rather than move it. It is also one of the heavier ice axes in the review, an ounce heavier than a Black Diamond Raven and SMC Capra and about same as a CAMP Neve.
This ice axe can handle almost everything you throw at it, from general mountaineering to steeper snow and ice climbing. Its only drawback is its slightly heavier weight. So if you are counting ounces this axe is not ideal. It is excels on more technical routes and is an awesome general mountain axe with incredible durability.
This is the most expensive axe in the review but you get what you pay for. It has an extremely well designed hot-forged pick, has the best performing adze in the review with a rubber-coated curved shaft and is one of the smoother self-arresting axes.
The Petzl Sum'Tec also wins our Editor's Choice Award, as this hot-forged pick is durable and isn't so curved that it much affects its self-arresting ability. Another benefit of the Sum'Tec is that it kept our hands drier during mid dagger. It is good for general mountaineering routes and excels when the terrain gets steep. The Petzl Snowracer wins our Best Buy Award as an excellent ultralight and inexpensive ice axe that excels in ski mountaineering and basic snow climbing terrain.
— Ian Nicholson
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 10, 2010
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