Forums The Gear Room Review: Petzl Sumtec Ice Axe
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  • #579957
    barrows
    1490 Posts

    So impressed am I that I feel the need to share my opinion here. I have about 30 years of alpine climbing and snowboard mountaineering experience, and have used quite an assortment of axes and ice tools.
    Overall, the Sumtec is the best general mountaineering axe I have ever used, and is perfect for any level of snowboard mountaineering. While a little heavier than the lightest axes around, the Sumtec makes up for its slight weight disadvantage by being much more versatile than the typical super light (like the BD Raven Ultra, which I also own). I ride with an axe only when the conditions really demand it, where a sliding fall could lead to serious injury or death, and where climbing really requires an axe. I prefer a shorter axe, as when one really needs it is when the slope angle exceeds 40 degrees, and at that point a shorter axe fits the situation better, is lighter, and also will allow for climbing anything the mountains dish up without feeling cumbersome.
    The beauty of the Sumtec is that it is capable enough to climb even short bits of steep ice, leash less, while still being perfect for standard shaft plunging on the typical frozen snow 45-50 degree couloir. The movable hand rest is genius: slide it up to the top of the shaft for plunging, move it slightly down for piolet dagger on steeper hard sections, and if you have to really swing into some water ice, slide it down to the bottom of the shaft.
    For riding, I prefer to hold an axe in my rear hand, at the balance point of the shaft, as this allows me to ride with the same style as if my hand was empty. The Sumtec is perfect for this style, as the hand ends up being super comfortable on the shaft right at the bend (balance point) and one can place the hand rest in the perfect position to support this grip. With the and rest in place, one can easily dagger the pick into the slope if necessary, nice, and it still works great for sliding the hand up the shaft for self arrest in the case of an unfortunate slip.
    I cannot imagine a better tool for steep snowboard descents and general mountaineering/alpine climbing.

    #676573
    HansGLudwig
    601 Posts

    Nice review. That trigrest sure looks nice.
    Do you prefer an adze or hammer for the mountaineering you do, and is your preference different for SB mountaineering as opposed to general mountaineering?

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    #676574
    barrows
    1490 Posts

    I only have the adze version right now. I like being able to do some chopping, and the adze version works better for plunging, which is what one does most often when climbing for a snowboard descent. But, I am going to pick up a hammer as well for those rare occasions when driving a piton might be necessary, or when climbing something when I might want two tools for complete security (typically slopes with pitches over 60 degrees, or perhaps super steep icy top outs).

    #676575
    FloImSchnee
    291 Posts

    Fully agree.
    Super versatile axe.

    #676576
    HansGLudwig
    601 Posts

    My thoughts as well.
    I have the Camp Nano. It’s weight, half that of the Sumtec (albeit a scant half pound); steel tips, which mean I can plunge it into ice but probably shouldn’t make it a habit; and shape (the same as Petzl) make perfect for my type of snowboard mountaineering. But you’re way gnarlier than me, Barrows.

    What the Nano sacrifices for weight — a steel head (as opposed to just the tips) and a decent adze (the nano’s is small, round :scratch:, and aluminum) — the Sumtec retains; making it more versatile.
    Don’t get me wrong. While I am very pleased with my purchase, an axe I can use for more than just emergencies and do some ‘real’ mountaineering with might have been prudent.

    Some pics of the Sumtec show a spike plug while others show a diagonally cut aluminum shaft (a la Camp’s Coursa). I assume you got one with a plug. Was that an option or design change for this year?

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    #676577
    barrows
    1490 Posts

    Petzl makes the Sumtec axe in only one version: 50 cm with a full steel spike, they make the hammer in two versions, the matching 50 cm version with the full steel spike, and a lighter version: 43 cm with the angled shaft cut style (good third tool for ice climbing emergencies, etc).
    AFAIK the main Sumtec models have always had the real steel spike.
    They used to make a lighter alpine tool set, called the Aztar, which did not have the sliding hand rest (but it did have an optional pinky rest at the bottom of the shaft) and these had the angled cut shaft style to save weight, but they are no longer made (or at least not for the US market?)

    Not so sure about gnarliness, hahaha, but I guess, like beauty, it is in the mind of the beholder!

    #676578
    FloImSchnee
    291 Posts

    (At least in Europe) a 59cm version is available as well: http://www.petzl.com/en/outdoor/classic-mountaineering-ice-axes/sumtec

    #790512
    slaytrees
    5 Posts

    Hey Barrows,

    for your riding down, do you use a leash? Or do you think that hand rest is sufficient?

    #797366
    Yoda
    264 Posts

    Check out this new axe from Petzl…
    https://www.petzl.com/NL/en/Sport/Ice-axes/RIDE#.WFh7-7GZOi4

    Similar to the Sum’Tec 43 but with a lighter head and an adze instead of a hammer. Looks pretty cool!

    #797372
    96avs01
    874 Posts

    Check out this new axe from Petzl…
    https://www.petzl.com/NL/en/Sport/Ice-axes/RIDE#.WFh7-7GZOi4

    Similar to the Sum’Tec 43 but with a lighter head and an adze instead of a hammer. Looks pretty cool!

    Interesting, but more intrigued to check out the Tech Shaxe.

    165 Venture Divide/Spark Frankenburners/La Sportiva Spantiks
    163W Jones Solution/Phantom Alphas/Dynafit TLT5s
    162 Furberg

    Chris

    #797496
    HansGLudwig
    601 Posts

    Interesting, but more intrigued to check out the Tech Shaxe.

    [/quote]
    I think K2 came out with something like that a few seasons a go.
    How does it fair as an axe? How does it fair as a shovel? What compromises did they make?
    In, the BCA YouTube vid, Edge says “Type 1 CE certified.” As I understand it, CE means it’s legal to sell in Europe and has nothing to do with axes. CEN ratings rate axes as technical climbing (CEN-T) or basic mountaineering (CEN-B) and the shaxe is missing that. Also I’m concerned that if you drop your axe, now your are out both an axe and a shovel.

    Warning: Thread drift – I wouldn’t mind seeing a re-hash of the controversial Genswein avy shovel test. I want to see how these newer shovel designs stand up to abuse. In particular, how the Shaxe, built-in saw/probe, and hoe-styled axes stand up to abuse.

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    #797592
    96avs01
    874 Posts

    @hansgludwig Mostly interested to see the mechanism for the interchangeable axe head/shovel handle. There’s concessions that one makes in any gear choice, this would be no different. I’m less concerned about dropping my axe, I subscribe to the leash/tether crowd. No need to debate that choice in this thread, I’m well aware of the counter arguments. Cheers

    165 Venture Divide/Spark Frankenburners/La Sportiva Spantiks
    163W Jones Solution/Phantom Alphas/Dynafit TLT5s
    162 Furberg

    Chris

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