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Hands-on Gear Review
Petzl Summit Review
Cons: A little on the expensive side
The Petzl Summit is winner of our OutdoorGearLab Editors' Choice for the best all around ice axe because it scores at, or near the top of every comparison category. The Summit is also lighter than most of the general mountaineering ice axes in our review and features a well designed, high quality hot forged pick. Our testers thought that the Summit's pick is aggressive enough that we would considering pairing it with an ice tool for moderately steep snow and ice routes. We felt that while there might be many options for each specific application, the Summit offers the best blend of utility to make it extremely versatile and it performs well at all the applications we could think of.
Check out all of the different products in the complete Ice Axe review.
RELATED REVIEW: Picking the Best Ice Axe
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Petzl Summit was one of the our testers favorite axes for smoothness and effectiveness of its self-arresting during our side-by-side comparison. Our testers thought the Grivel Air Tech Evolution and the Petzl Summit Evo also receive top marks from our tester group. The Summit's pick is hot forged and is narrower than average at its tip, but gets wider as it gets closer to the shaft; a design that resulted in above average performance in both softer snow and firmer snow self-arrest tests. It's worth noting that The Petzl Summit features the same hot forged, positive curve pick design as the Petzl Summit Evo. We also really like the curved shaft design on the Summit and the additional leverage it provided our testers while self-arresting. In general however, the difference was small, our review team unanimously determined that they preferred to self-arrest with ice axes that feature a slightly curved shaft compared to a straight one for this small advantage.
Steep Ice and Snow Climbing Performance
The Summit along with the Summit Evo and the Grivel Air Tech Evolution were our top performers for non-reverse curve pick steep ice performance. The Summit's pick bit into ice, neve and firm snow as well as any non-reverse curve style pick we tested. It appeared to a have the right amount of droop to make swinging it feel more natural but was still able to self arrest effectively. Our testers also really liked the slight curve the Summit featured that was more comfortable while in mid-dagger position (Piolet Manche) as well as helped to keep our hands warmer and drier. If you like the Summit but want a little bit more aggressive axe, check out the very similar Summit Evo which has a little more ergonomic shaft and a rubberized grip. The Summit was far better at climbing steep snow and ice than the Black Diamond Raven or Raven Pro but wasn't quite as good as the modular Black Diamond Venom or Petzl Sum'tec.
Use As Improvised Anchor
The Petzl Summit excels as an improvised anchor, its well designed spike makes the Summit one of the easier ice axes to be driven in vertically for self-anchor or for a quick backup while belaying on snow. The hole in the head of the summit is well designed and easily facilities nearly any size carabiner. The Petzl Summit is CEN-B rated and is UIAA approved for use in a "T-slot" or a deadman during crevasse rescue.
Adze Performance: Anchor Construction, Digging, Step Chopping
Featuring our overall favorite adze in the review. The well designed, hot forged adze blew many other ice axes out of the water while chopping icy tent platforms and digging T-slots during crevasse rescue. All of our testers thought the Summit felt noticeably easier than some other axes like the Black Diamond Raven and Raven Pro.
Comfort to Carry
The Petzl Summit was one of the more comfortable ice axes to carry in our review being only just barely edged out by the Black Diamond Raven, Raven Pro and Raven Ultra. With that said, we still call the Summit a very comfortable ice axe to carry. There are no teeth on the pick where your hand holds onto so it is quite comfortable. Being a European designed ice axe, the Petzl Summit is most comfortable in self-belay position (pick forward or Piolet canne position) and even more comfortable than a Raven in this position. In self-arrest position (pick backward, no french term for the position because it is so uncommon to use) again we found it only a touch behind the Black Diamond Raven family and all of our testers agreed that they would would easily carry this ice axe for 18+ hour days even with thin gloves on. Overall we thought the Summit was around the same comfort as the Petzl Glacier but more comfortable than the Grivel G1, Camp Neve, or Grivel Air Tech Evolution.
The Petzl Summit checks in at 13.4 ounces, which is one of the lighter ice axes in the review overall and the lightest ice axe we reviewed that we would take on even fairly complex routes. It's 3 ounces lighter than the very comparable performance-wise Grivel Evolution and 1.5 ounces lighter than the Petzl Summit Evo which is essentially the same axe but features a lower rubber grip and a more ergonomic shaft for steeper climbing.
The Petzl Summit is the perfect choice for nearly any general mountaineering application because of its fantastic self-arresting ability, solid, steep, snow climbing performance and ability to easily create anchors for belaying or crevasse rescue. If you only plan to climb very easy and moderate mountaineering routes you could consider saving $50 and an ounce of weight with the Petzl Glacier. For climbers who want to climb a lot of steeper routes often paired with an ice-tool the Summit will work, but check out the Petzl Summit Evo, the modular Petzl Sum'tec or the Black Diamond Venom which feature a reverse curve pick which will climb much steeper ice better.
The Summit Compared to the Summit Evo
The Petzl Summit and the Summit Evo have the same head (pick and adze) and the same spike. The primary difference between the two is the Summit Evo's more ergonomically shaped shaft that performs slightly better on steeper terrain while using low and mid-dagger positions or while swinging. The Summit Evo also has a rubberized grip to make swinging the axe like an ice tool in piolet traxion position, more secure. The Summit is 1.5 ounces lighter and costs $20 less.
Value and the Bottom Line
At $150 the Petzl Summit isn't cheap, but if you want a higher performance ice axe with a design and materials that will help it last many climbers a lifetime of mountaineering adventures, then it could easily be worth $50 more than other options available. For $20 more you can get the Summit Evo which as we stated above is nearly the same axe but has a little better steep climbing ability.
Other Versions and Accessories
— Ian Nicholson
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