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Petzl Glacier Literide Review

One of the most versatile axes for the weight, this model performs surprisingly well at a wide range of tasks
Petzl Glacier Literide
Photo: Petzl
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $100 List | $89.95 at Backcountry
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
Manufacturer:   Petzl
By Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 21, 2019
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69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 17
  • Self-Arresting - 15% 8
  • Digging & Step Chopping - 15% 7
  • Use as Improvised Anchor - 15% 7
  • Steep Ice & Snow - 25% 5
  • Comfort to Carry - 5% 7
  • Weight - 25% 8
RELATED: Best Ice Axe

Our Verdict

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.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award    
Price $89.95 at Backcountry
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$139.95 at Amazon$200 ListCheck Price on Amazon
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$119.95 at Backcountry
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Pros Lightest weight mountain axe with a spike, great price, very comfortable, solid self-arrest performanceHot-forged pick penetrates snow and ice extremely well, no-teeth on gripping area of pick, curved shaft and teardrop/oval shaped shaft excel in steeper terrain, exceptional self-arrest performance, one of the best overall adze designsBest steep snow climbing performance, durable, penetrates hard ice well, excellent self-arrest and steep snow climbing performanceCEN-T rating, rad FlickLock style slider pommel, curved shaft keeps hands warmer and drier during steep snow climbs, heavy tapered pick provides great support/purchase during normal conditions, huge spikeHot-forged pick, excellent self-arrest performance, fantastic adze design, below average weight particularly for an all-mountain option, solid steep snow climbing ability
Cons Only comes in one size, just okay steep snow performanceA little on the heavier sideExpensive, slightly on the heavier side, like its slider pummel but wished it could be placed in more positions along the shaftHeavy, expensive, wide pick is strong but doesn't penetrate ice as well as someSlightly more expensive side, not the best ice performance
Bottom Line A surprisingly versatile axe considering its impressively low weightIf we could only own one ice axe, this would be itOne of the best all-around mountaineering axes out there, it just narrowly missed our Editors' Choice AwardThis burly ice axe is everything you could want for challenging glacier routes and steep snow climbsIncredibly versatile, there are very few mountaineering objectives that this model doesn't perform well on
Rating Categories Petzl Glacier Literide Petzl Summit Evo Grivel Air Tech Evolution Black Diamond Swift Petzl Summit
Self Arresting (15%)
8
9
9
9
9
Digging & Step Chopping (15%)
7
9
9
9
8
Use As Improvised Anchor (15%)
7
8
8
9
8
Steep Ice & Snow (25%)
5
9
9
8
7
Comfort To Carry (5%)
7
9
7
10
8
Weight (25%)
8
7
7
6
8
Specs Petzl Glacier... Petzl Summit Evo Grivel Air Tech... Black Diamond Swift Petzl Summit
Measured Weight 11.2 oz /320g 14.1 oz / 400g 15.2 oz / 430g 17 oz / 487g 12.6 oz / 360g
Category Ultralight General General General/Technical General
Rating CEN-B CEN-B CEN-B CEN-T CEN-B
Pick Shape, Material, and Construction Forged steel, classic positve curve Hot-forged steel, Classic Positive curve Hot-forged chromoly steel, classic positive curve Hot-forged stainless steel, classic positive curve Hot-forged steel, Classic Positive curve
Lengths Available 50 cm 52, 59, 66 cm 48, 53, 58, 66 cm 50, 57, 64 cm 52, 59, 66 cm
Included Pommel or Leash? No Lower Rubber Grip Pommel and leash Pommel No
Hammer Option No No Yes No No
Shaft Design Straight Bent Bent Bent Bent

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.

Performance Comparison


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 truly blurs the lines between an ultralight ice...
The Glacier Literide truly blurs the lines between an ultralight ice axe and a more traditional model. It is lighter than several ultralight models that don't feature a spike or a full-sized adze (which puts it more in a weight category with those models), but from a functionality standpoint, its performance is in line with most general mountaineering axes. With the Literide, you get a solid general mountaineering axe for the weight of an ultralight one.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Self-Arresting


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.

The Literide's steel pick tapers down to 3mm, allowing it to...
The Literide's steel pick tapers down to 3mm, allowing it to penetrate firm snow and ice well; far better than many sub-12 oz models. We like the positive curve pick design for performance self-arresting and on steep snow climbs, and we like that Petzl removed all the teeth from the gripping area (easily visible in this photo) which makes this axe far more comfortable to carry.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

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.

Like many European models, the Literide is more comfortable to be...
Like many European models, the Literide is more comfortable to be carried in self-belay position. Its low profile head coupled with a lack of teeth on the gripping area of its pick helped several members of our team favor this model in this position. Photo: Descending the Boston Glacier below Forbidden peak with a Glacier Literide being carried in self-belay position.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

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.

The Literide scored above average in our review for its adze...
The Literide scored above average in our review for its adze performance and was at the top of our review for its hacking ability in sub 12 oz models.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Steep Ice and Snow


The Glacier Literide performed slightly above average in its steep snow climbing prowess.

The Literide self-arrested and ascended steep snow slightly better...
The Literide self-arrested and ascended steep snow slightly better than average, mostly due to its well-designed steel pick. Here, Jussi Tahtinen boots it out of the Argentiere Glacier with a Glacier Literide.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

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.

While not geared toward extended steep snow and ice routes, the...
While not geared toward extended steep snow and ice routes, the Literide proved itself worthy at providing security on moderately firm snow slopes to 50 degrees. While we wouldn't want to climb routes much steeper than that, the Literide certainly proved itself capable for our testing team on a dozen of steep booters, alpine rock climbs, and moderate glacier routes. Photo: Jussi Tahtinen and friend climb over the Col du Passion near Chamonix, France.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

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 oz, the Literide weighs less than many ultralight models...
At 11.2 oz, the Literide weighs less than many ultralight models that feature undersized adzes, aluminum picks, or don't feature a spike. The Literide is also more versatile than all of them. More Literides strapped to packs than you can shake a stick at while ascending to the Col du Superior on the first day of the Haute Route.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Weight


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.

The Glacier Literide truly blurs the lines between an ultralight axe...
The Glacier Literide truly blurs the lines between an ultralight axe and a more traditional model. One of the design features that help it be more in line with traditional models is its fully functioning spike. Overall, it was the lightest model we tested to feature a real spike.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

The Literide works great for any trip where you need an ice axe, but...
The Literide works great for any trip where you need an ice axe, but weight is at a premium. Classic examples of this are ski-mountaineering, alpine rock climbing, and early season backpacking. We are pleased (and surprised) to say we found the Literide incredibly versatile, and it could be taken on basic snow climbs and moderate glacier routes with confidence.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Value


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.

The Glacier Literide isn't just a versatile ultralight axe; it is...
The Glacier Literide isn't just a versatile ultralight axe; it is actually a surprisingly capable general mountaineering axe that happens to be impressively lightweight. We found it to offer equal performance to most general mountaineering axes while weighing less, and it was certainly more versatile than several ultralight models. Jussi Tahtinen and friend on top of the Rosablanche in the Swiss Alps.
Photo: Ian Nicholson

Conclusion


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