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CAMP Corsa Review

CAMP Corsa Ice Axe
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Price:  $120 List | $89.96 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Lightest B-rated ice axe on the market, did we mention crazy light, comfortable to carry in self-belay position
Cons:  Little adze, no spike, poor steep snow performance
Manufacturer:   Camp
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 18, 2015
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#15 of 15
  • Self-arresting - 22% 5
  • Digging & Step chopping - 17% 4
  • Use as improvised Anchor - 8% 8
  • Steep ice and snow - 22% 4
  • Comfort to carry - 11% 8
  • Weight - 20% 10

The Skinny

This is the lightest CEN B-rated ice axe in the world. It is made of 100 percent aluminum and the head is hot forged to dramatically increase its strength and durability. That said, aluminum still isn't as tough as steel. At 7.5 ounces it is 40 percent lighter than any other ice axe we tested. If you are looking for the lightest ice axe or can afford a quiver of axes, then the Corsa great to have. It self-arrests smoothly and is strong enough to use as a snow anchor, which makes it useful for more than just ski mountaineers and early season hikers.

While the Corsa is the lightest B-rated ice axe, the Black Diamond Raven Ultra is the most versatile. Ski mountaineers should choose the Ultra while early season hikers and adventure racers should choose the Corsa. Alpine rock climbers will have to choose between the two depending on their needs. The Corsa doesn't pound pickets, chop steps or climb steep snow well. It does self-arrest nicely in the right snow, can be used as a snow anchor and provides a little more security if you are traversing semi-steep snow slopes. If you need an ice axe for only those fundamental applications and weight is the biggest concern, then the Corsa is the best and gets our Editors' Choice award for the ultralight ice axe category.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The head  pick  and adze of the CAMP Corsa are all constructed with 100% aluminum and along with the CAMP Corsa Nanotech are the only such models in our review (all the other models use a steel head). Aluminum headed models are lighter weight but their picks need to be constructed wider to make up for its lack of strength and thus don't work as well in firmer conditions. With that said they work just fine if its not too icy.
The head, pick, and adze of the CAMP Corsa are all constructed with 100% aluminum and along with the CAMP Corsa Nanotech are the only such models in our review (all the other models use a steel head). Aluminum headed models are lighter weight but their picks need to be constructed wider to make up for its lack of strength and thus don't work as well in firmer conditions. With that said they work just fine if its not too icy.

Likes


My favorite thing about the Corsa is that at 7.5 ounces it is pretty dang light, half the weight of most of the ice axes in this review. The Corsa was pleasant to hold, especially in self belay (Piolet Cane position) where it was near the top of my review. In self belay position it was not nearly as nice as the Black Diamond Raven Ultra or the rest of the Raven series but better than the Snow Walker. While I wouldn't want to climb any steep ice with it, the bottom of the shaft has six machined grooves for better grip while swinging. This is a nice touch for pulling over the occasional bergschrund. As long as the snow wasn't too hard, we found this axe self-arrested relatively smoothly. Its spike is plugged up in the larger sizes to keep it from filling with snow, but is not plugged in the 50cm size.

Dislikes


The small aluminum adze chopped steps poorly and dug out tent platforms inadequately. It was at the bottom of the review. It worked well as a deadman but the holes in the adze and at the top of the shaft could have been designed a better to allow a larger range of carabiners to clip in. It was better than its big brother, the CAMP Neve, but not as nice as the Black Diamond Raven Ultra. Its self-arresting was rather average and not great in harder snow.

We would hesitate to pound many pickets with this ice axe for fear of damaging the aluminum head. We whacked away on a few for the review but never really tested its long-term durability. The aluminum pick doesn't penetrate nearly as well into ice as a steel or titanium pick and dulls far more quickly. It doesn't have a real spike and the 50cm version of the Corsa comes with an unplugged shaft. So the added weight of the snow packing into your ice axe is an unpleasant thought. But we learned to use it to fling snow at my partners and fellow testers.

Best Application


The Corsa is most at home with ski mountaineers, early season backpackers, alpine rock climbers, adventure racers and anyone else where weight is the biggest factor. Climbers needing only basic requirements of an axe will enjoy the Corsa's nearly unnoticeable weight. Mountaineers looking for a durable axe or one that will chop steps and climb steep snow efficiently will be unhappy with the Corsa's sub-par performance in those categories. Those carrying an ice axe "just in case" will love the Corsa. Climbers with a quiver of axes will find that with it they can save an extra half pound or more on certain general mountaineering trips when conditions are right.

Value


It isn't as versatile as many other ice axes even when compared to its ultra light competitors. So for $120, you only get an axe that excels at specific applications. If those applications are all you need the axe for, then it is not a bad deal.


Ian Nicholson