The Petzl Glacier Literide is a surprisingly versatile axe for ski touring, general mountaineering, or moderate snow climbs and is a former Top Pick award winner for the best ultralight ice axe. At 11.2 ounces, its weight certainly falls in line with other ultralight models, but it doesn't make many of the typical performance sacrifices that are common with ultralight options. It strikes an excellent balance between light weight and quality features, such as its pick, steel spike, and a full-sized adze - something that almost no other model under 12 ounces can attest to.
Petzl Glacier Literide Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Lightest weight mountain axe with a spike, great price, very comfortable, solid self-arrest performance
Cons: Only comes in one size, just okay steep snow performance
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Petzl Glacier Literide is lighter than many ultralight models, sans typical downsides found in many of these designs. Most ice axes that weigh less than 12 ounces have an undersized adze, don't feature a real spike, or make countless other sacrifices to save weight. That is simply not the case with the Glacier Literide, which features all of those aforementioned designs, and performs similarly to a general mountaineering axe.
The Glacier Literide functions well for a wider range of mountaineering applications than many people might give it credit for. It's lighter weight than several ultralight models and performs in line with most general mountaineering models. It's ideal for basic glacier climbs, general mountaineering, early season snow climbs, ski mountaineering, or alpine rock climbing. It can also be utilized anytime someone is after a fairly featured mountaineering axe but still desires something fairly low weight.
The Glacier Literide performed above average during our side-by-side self-arrest testing, though it was lacking the leverage that some models provide via their curved shaft. The pick of the Literide bites into firmer snow effectively, and our testers found it could also be driven in smoothly. The Glacier Literide self-arrests noticeably better than the similarly priced Black Diamond Raven and Raven Pro, and defeats the other "lightweight" axes by a wide margin.
Digging and Step Chopping
For digging and step chopping, the Glacier Literide earns high scores, thanks to its hacking ability. Its adze cut effectively into all but the hardest of ice and dug "T-slots" and deadmans better than many other contenders. It only scored just barely behind the Petzl Sum'tec and Summit, which are two high scoring models.
Use As Improvised Anchor
The Glacier Literide has a CEN-B rated shaft, meaning it is suitable for use as an anchor to belay off of for snow climbing or during improvised crevasse rescue. The hole in its head is large enough to clip a carabiner for retrievable rappel anchors, standing ice-axe belays, or the rare time when you might drive the axe in vertically for use similar to a picket. Its well-designed, functional spike aids the Glacier Literide in its ability to be driven in vertically and quickly to self-anchor or to provide a quick backup while belaying others.
Steep Ice and Snow
The Glacier Literide performed slightly above average in its steep snow climbing prowess.
It features a pick that effectively penetrated even the firmest of snow whether swinging, in mid-dagger or low dagger better than nearly all of the other sub one hundred dollar models, like the Black Diamond Raven and Raven Ultra. The ripples on the lower part of the shaft also provide additional grip while swinging the axe.
Comfort to Carry
The Glacier Literide offers a decent amount of comfort when carrying in self-belay or self-arrest position. Like many European designed models, it is most comfortable in self-belay/pilot canne position (pick forward) but is still pleasant in self-arrest (pick backward position). The Glacier Literide is ideal for folks with smaller hands, as it is lower profile in general.
At 11.2 ounces, the Glacier Literide is on the lighter side of models currently on the market, and the only fully featured sub-12-ounce axe. It's not quite as light as the CAMP Corsa (7.4 oz), Petzl Ride (8.4 oz), CAMP Corsa Nanotech (8.7 oz), or Petzl Gully (9.4 oz), but does feature a full-sized adze and real spike; compared to those lower in weight, none feature said adze or spike.
Sub one hundred dollars, the Glacier Literide is a pretty darn good deal for a rad, multifunctional axe. It's less expensive of all the "ultralight" models and is incredibly versatile. While several of the aforementioned options do excel at a specific function, the Literide can perform most tasks adequately. If you're after a tool for a specific job, we'd recommend seeking something else out.
Don't let this model's "ultralight" label fool you into thinking it's not versatile. Other than its 50cm length, it's equally capable as most other mountaineering-oriented models like the Black Diamond Raven, CAMP Neve, or the Petzl Glacier. It's perfect for folks who want a lightweight axe but still desire something more well-rounded for a cross-section of activities, such as basic glacier climbs or moderate snow routes. It's also ideal for ski mountaineering, alpine rock climbing, or early season backpacking. Best of all, it's less weight than several non-fully featured "ultralight" models; while some of these models might offer definite benefits, not all offer such exceptional across the board performance.
— Ian Nicholson