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Best Ice Tools for Record Breaking Low Temps

It’s the start of 2018 and most of us in Canada and across the U.S.A. have been hit with record-breaking lows.

If you’re an ice climber then you know that when the temps dip to -35C that you should just go to the climbing gym.

The Black Diamond Fuels in action

But if you’re a keener who wants to chase the screaming barfies, the dinner-plating ice and character building belays, then you know what happens to frozen water in frigid conditions: the ice shatters.

That’s why you need the right tool for the job. Below are five ice climbing tools for you super-cold-ice chasers.

Cassin X-All Mountain: C.A.M.P. and Cassin continue to one-up themselves with terrific products for cold days out.

The X-All might be the best all-round tool for absolutely unbearable conditions. If the ice is thin and brittle in those couloirs or steep ice pitches, these are the tools you want.

There is little displacement in the ice when you make contact, which means less ice shattering. The adjusting handle is bonus that lets you increase resistance to torque.

Black Diamond Fuel: Black Diamond has been a leader in ice climbing equipment for decades and the Fuel has stood the test of time as a top choice.

The weight is distributed well, which helps get the most out of the many swings you’ll need to do to find purchase in the glass-like ice.

It’s priced competitively and have a tacky grip. Spare picks are inexpensive and you don’t have a hammer or adze to deal with on pure ice routes. (MSRP $295)

Petzl Ergo: The Ergo has climbed its way to the top of the choice tool list for those seeking an aggressive shaft/pick combo for steep to overhanging terrain, which should mostly be avoided in ice-splintering low temps.

These feel right on mixed lines from M4 to M12 and just as good on funky ice pillars. You can add a hammer or adze for those in-your-face alpine winter lines. (MSRP $439)

Grivel Tech Machine: Grivel is one of the world’s leading brands for ice and alpine equipment and their Tech Machine has been used in likely every range imaginable.

Even the coldest, where ice is so dry and crisp that it breaks before you swing.

The tool is very light but the swing is smooth like a heavier tool. If you only ice climb with it, the picks seem to last for seasons. At the price, these are a rugged option that will take you up many climbs. (MSRP $239)

DMM Apex The Apex has been on the market for a few years and is still many climbers’ top choice for for arctic-like conditions.

For those who may remember, one of the best early tools (circa late 1990s) climbers loved for digit-numbing days was the DMM Fly. Of course the simple wrist-leash design would freeze after hours out.

But call the the Apex the jack of all trades that can take you up steep ice pillars, gnarly drytool lines or cascading alpine climbs.

The curve matches that of the Petzl Nomic and Black Diamond Fusion II, which means you’ll have plenty of clearance. (MSRP $279)

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