Petzl Ice Axe: What You Should Know Before Buying

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Among all the mountaineering tools, an ice axe is perhaps one of the most iconic. It is also a key piece of gear for any snow climber or mountaineer. 

Petzl is certainly a trusted brand when it comes to ice axes. The brand has always been at the forefront in terms of technical innovations for many climbers. For years, Petzl Ice Axes have evolved to a great extent. The ice axes are uniquely designed to help climbers move up and down through a varied terrain. These include dry tooling, glacier hiking, moderate technical mountaineering and more. Each tool has its own area of expertise and versatility that suit them to be used for a wide variety of situations encountered in the mountains. 

Evolution of Petzl Ice Axes

With the advancements in technology, ice axes too have evolved. Today, they are more specialised, durable, lighter and offer better performance. For this reason; climbers to this day experience the bliss of exploring new techniques and thereby push the limits of mountaineering and ice climbing. New groundbreaking results are achieved periodically with Petzl Ice Axes. 

Petzl is the first company that designed a tool specifically designed for leashless snow ice and mixed climbing. The enormous gains of these innovations, the multi-grip configuration, comfortable ergonomic handles and ice pick weights, make the ice axes perfect for both climbing and dry-tooling steep ice and rock columns. 

Wide Range of Petzl Ice Axes

With an extensive line of ice axes, climbers will surely be able to find the best tool for their vertical ventures. The tools are designed with the optimum combination of weight, strength and features for each activity. 

Probably you are reading this blog because you’re buying an ice axe for the first time. Before heading to your first high-altitude vertical adventure, consider determining the type of outdoor activities involved. This will help you in finding the best ice axe to achieve maximum support. Also, you need to learn about the technical aspects, lengths and familiarise yourself to choose the axe that is most suitable for your needs.

Petzl Models for Various Climbing Techniques

Petzl has some of the best models of ice axes specifically designed for different types of climbing. Choosing the best tool for the terrain increases your margin of safety when climbing. Therefore, making the right choice is obvious when buying Petzl Ice Axes. 

Ski Touring

For Ski Touring, RIDE, GULLY or GLACIER LITERIDE from Petzl is the best option. These provide great performance for ski mountaineering, as they are lightweight and easy to use. The ice axes offer a great bite to ensure complete peace of mind when ski touring through the mountains. 

Firm Snow Climb or Glacier Hiking

If your terrain type includes climbing firm snow or hiking glacier, then the GLACIER model is a perfect choice. This ice axe is pretty compact, simple and lightweight. Pairing this with technical crampons increases its versatility. 

Classic Mountaineering

It is better to stick with versatile gear when you face variable terrains and moderately difficult routes on the way. SUMMIT and SUMMIT EVO models from Petzl are known as high-performance ice axes. They come with unique hot forged steel heads that offer great bite and easily penetrate both ice and snow. They can handle all types of snow, rock and ice which are encountered in the high-alpine environment. 

Technical Mountaineering

When your trek includes mixed climbs and difficult snow or ice, it’s good to go with high-performance ice tools. This is where SUM’TEC and QUARK come to your needs. These easy-to-swing ice axes are ergonomically designed and this allows grabbing the upper handle in different ways as per the requirement. So, set the ice pick with confidence when climbing a vertical terrain. 

Ice Climbing

NOMIC can be the perfect choice for ice climbing. It is a highly technical ice axe that offers greater precision in every type of ice climb. This ice axe is perfectly equipped and balanced with weights thus, providing an exceptional swing. The ice pick that comes along, offers excellent placement and grips the ice extremely well. Its shape and double handle offer different grip models along with stable hand gripping.

Dry Tooling

The ERGONOMIC ice axe from Petzl is the best choice for dry tooling. It is specifically designed and extremely technical. Not only for dry tooling, but the ice tool is also good for steep and hard ice climbing. The handle comes with a sharp angle which makes it ideal for prolonged hanging. It also helps in increasing power when pulling. The best part is, the double handle offers multiple grip advantages and stable hand switching. 

The Need for Ice Axe Support

Ensuring proper ice axe support is crucial whether you are ascending or descending. As you have seen, different ice axes are specifically suited for different activities, the features are equally important when buying an ice axe. 

Classic Mountaineering

Ice axes are generally used for summiting snow-capped peaks that have crevasses and glaciers. So the features must be – 

  • A straight aluminum shaft that is curved. This will help a lot if the route involves steep terrain. 
  • Classic length (the size from the base of the thumb to the ankle).
  • Stainless steel head with a classic-curve pick.
  • Optimal grip is important.


Ice axes are also required when your route has moderate snow or ice. Also, they are required when heading straight up the steep terrain where the climber needs to engage his/her both hands and feet. This type of climbing contrasts with travelling on terrains with lower angles or traversing across steeper slopes. Therefore, the features must be- 

  • Straight or nicely curved shaft as the axe will be often gripped at the mid-shaft to use like a claw.
  • Classic length or 10cm shorter axe if the usage is minimal.
  • Steel head with a classic-curve steel pick.

Hiking Backpacking

Ice axes are also pivotal when a climber needs to travel on a trail that has some sections of ice or snow. The features must be – 

Curved or straight shaft if the axe needs to be carried along the pack for brief scrambles or traverses of steep snow-capped chutes. 

  • A straight or curved shaft is a good choice
  • If the axe needs frequent usage, then a comfortable grip is important
  • Aluminum or entirely modular head made of steel with an ultra-versatile pick designed to suit all types of hiking and backpacking. A classic curve ice pick is recommended if the axe usage is minimal. 

Ice Climbing

Ice axes for ice climbs are specifically designed to climb frozen waterfalls, ice-covered rock slabs or icefalls. It is important to note that ice climbing axes are shorter and come with bent shafts. They are known for having strong connection points and connection holes. The heads vary in design when compared to a classic ice axe. Axes designed for climbing vertical ice are called ice tools and are often used in pairs, especially when climbers are on belay.

Ice Axe Leashes

An ice axe leash can be a valuable safety accessory when climbing or hiking in icy or snowy conditions. Tapered at the tip, it helps keep the axe close at hand and prevents it from being lost if it slips out of your grip. There are many different types of leashes available, so be sure to choose one that is right for your needs. Some leashes are designed to attach to the wrist, while others are designed to attach to the belt or backpack. Make sure the leash is long enough to allow you to use the axe freely, but not so long that it gets in the way.

Pick Shapes

When looking for an ice axe, it’s important to choose one that has a classic curve pick. This type of pick is ideal for a variety of applications, including mountaineering, scrambling, and backpacking. It is also the most versatile type of pick and is best suited for use in icy and snowy conditions.

General mountaineering ice axes come with a positive classic curve pick. The picks are designed with a slight downward arch curve. These types of picks paired with proper ice tools are popular for mountaineering because they offer excellent balance when it comes to self-arrest and steep ice performance.

Neutral Curve Pick

A neutral curve pick is designed with a horizontal arch. This type of pick is often used for general mountaineering and glacier travel. It is not as good for self-arresting or ascending steep ice, but it does offer better performance when travelling on lower-angled terrain.

A neutral curve pick is designed to be straight right from the head of the shaft without bending. A neutral curve pick is good for self-arresting as it is smooth and suits the application perfectly. However, it is important to note that this type of pick is no good when swung into the ice. There are very few models that come with a neutral curve pick.

Reverse Curve Pick

A reverse curve pick is designed with a pronounced curve that arcs upwards. This type of pick is often used for ice climbing and is effective when ascending or descending steep ice. It is not as good for self-arresting, but it does offer better performance when travelling on lower-angled terrain.

A reverse curved pick is the best choice when climbing steeper snow and ice. The design starts like a positive curve but usually at an increased angle and then bends upward, ensuring a reverse curve. This type of reversed curve shape makes it easier when it comes to removing the pick from the ice after it has been driven in.

The only downside is the models that come along. They are not that smoother when it comes to self-arresting and the climber may feel a “bumpy” stop. This doesn’t mean that self-arresting isn’t good with a reversed curved pick, all you need is to get a suitable ice tool from a Petzl store.


As you can see, there are many different versatile models of ice axes available on the market, it is important to choose the right one for your needs. There are multiple high-quality Petzl ice axes that are designed for a variety of activities, so be sure to check them out before making your purchase.

Compared to other brands, Petzl is a leader on the market so be sure to check them out when searching to find the perfect axe for your next climbing or hiking adventure. Petzl also has a wonderful community online so be sure to join the community of Petzl lovers and you might even get some amazing discounts and offers. Stay connected to the updates shared to know more in detail involving mixed routes, technical mountaineering, rock climbing and more.

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