I have been using the Grivel Air Tech Evo Axe for almost one year now for everything from Winter Skills sessions and guiding in Scotland to ski mountaineering and alpine guiding and I am honestly struggling to find one thing I would change about it.
I bought the tool at the start of last winter as an upgrade to a much older tool in preparation for my Winter Guides Assessment. I took it up to Scotland for two and a half months before my test and used it for everything from running Winter Skills sessions to all-round daily guiding on everything from winter walking to climbing grade 4 mixed terrain.
For winter skills the axe performed superbly and works very well as a general mountaineering tool suitable for ice axe arrests and making anchors with. Both the pick and the shaft are íTí rated and the construction is as we have come to expect from Grivel; bombproof. I regularly hammer mine in using clients tools and generally give it a lot of abuse and bar scratches it has shown little sign of wear.
The pick is dropped slightly to make it more aggressive than some which doesn’t seem to make much difference if being used to arrest, however definitely helps when being used to climb steeper terrain. The pick / adze is made from a one piece hot-forged head and unlike some the adze is polished in all the right places and teeth bevelled off near the shaft which really makes the difference in both comfort and also not tearing your gloves to pieces when you hold it by the head for long periods. There is a slight bend near the top of the shaft to assist when on steeper terrain but this in no way interferes with plunging of the shaft or burying the tool for an anchor.
The balance of the tool is excellent with a very well distributed weight; light enough to swing for weeks on end but still with enough weight to cut steps or build anchors in hard snow or ice. The spike is robust and takes a large karabiner and the rubber grip is grippy, low-profile and stays where itís meant to. The tool comes complete with a leash which has enough length to be able to larkís foot it through the head for easy attachment / removal if like me you prefer to use your axe without a leash normally. Grivel make the Air Tech Evo in four lengths and I have the 58cm which I find really good (I am just over six foot). And then thereís that paint job. Not something I get excited about (they all wear off) but definitely one of the better looking aroundÖ
All in all a near perfect tool and one Iím struggling to find fault with. Maybe one more Ďgo-fasterí stripe on the side, Grivel..?
Conclusion- If you are after one tool to use for a wide variety of skills, conditions and applications, need it to last and be suitable for everything from winter walking to ski-touring then this is the axe for you.
Have a great winter!
Dave is an Aspirant IFMGA Mountain Guide and rope access IRATA L3 based in Kendal. He enjoys all different types of climbing and skiing, but has a particular passion for Scottish winter climbing and Alpine climbing. Click here to see his page.