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Hands-on Gear Review
CAMP Corsa Nanotech Review
Cons: Little adze, just an okay spike
The CAMP Corsa Nanotech is a super unique ice axe that is the second lightest in our review on one of the overall lightest weight CEN-B rated axes out there. What makes the Corsa Nanotech so unique is that it is nearly 100% aluminum so it's mega light at 8.7 ounces but features a riveted on steel pick and steel spike helping its performance on steeper snow and while self-arresting. Our testers thought the Corsa Nanotech is a sweet ice axe for certain applications like alpine rock climbing, ski mountaineering and early season backpacking. We don't think the Corsa Nanotech has as wide a range of uses in general mountaineering as most axes with steel heads like the Petzl Glacier, but the Corsa Nanotech surprised all our testers in many categories and is more versatile than we originally gave it credit for.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The CAMP Corsa Nanotech self-arrested better than expected for a nearly all aluminum ice axe. It's bent shaft gave our testers more leverage to stop themselves and the steel pick provided a solid "bit" in firmer conditions. We wouldn't want to stop ourselves in super firm snow, but the Corsa Nanotech was comparable up to many other much heavier ice axes.
Steep Ice and Snow Climbing Performance
Steep snow and ice climbing is a category where the CAMP Corsa Nanotech performed surprisingly well. While super light, all its weight is in its head and the nano-steel tip bit into hard ice fantastically. Our testers thought the Corsa nanotech even better than several other, much heavier ice axes like the Black Diamond Raven or Raven Ultra.
Use As Improvised Anchor
The Corsa Nanotech is CEN-B certified and can be used as an anchor in a deadman or "T-slot" fashion. The hole in the aluminum head is big enough to clip a carabiner too but our testers thought that simply due to the design on the axe the carabiner would get loaded strangely. The hole in the head is plenty big enough to clip a sling to.
Adze Performance: Anchor Building, Step Chopping and Platform Hacking
The Corsa Nanotech down right sucks for step chopping in firm snow or ice and you don't want to have to hack out a tent platform with it. The Corsa's adze is very small and is made of aluminum so anything firm, don't count on it working super well.
Comfort to Carry
The CAMP Corsa Nanotech is one of the few ice axes that we tested that is excellent to carry in self-belay position (pick forward) but far below average in comfort for self-arrest position (pick backward). An argument to be made on why it matters less with the Corsa nanotech is that this axe is meant for climbing up and will likely be taken into places that climbers will be more likely to use the self-belay position and not so much designed for mellow glacier travel where climbers might use the self-arrest position.
The CAMP Corsa Nanotech at 8.7 ounces is one of the lightest ice axes on the market and it's the lightest ice axe that features a steel pick and a steel spike (even if that steel pick is riveted on). The Corsa Nanotech is only heavier than the non-steel tip adapted 100% aluminum Corsa which tips the scales at 7.4 ounces.
While the Corsa Nanotech has a much wider range of use than our testers originally had thought, it certainly still isn't an "all-around" mountaineering axe. It is perfect for alpine rock routes with snowy or glaciated approaches, some general mountaineering and it's even fine for routes that feature some steep snow climbing. What it isn't good for are routes where you think you'll be pounding pickets, like extended, firm snow routes, or complex glacier travel that involves a lot of more heavily crevassed terrain.
At $160 the Corsa Nanotech is certainly on the more expensive side, but we feel it's justified because the Corsa takes a lot more time and effort to manufacture. Its nearly double the price of the Black Diamond Ultra, but has a better spike, climbs steep snow better and is only around 60% of the comparable weight. Compared to the Petzl Glacier Literide, it's 4 ounces lighter, climbs steep snow at least as well, but maybe isn't quite as versatile.
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— Ian Nicholson
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