Petzl have updated their technical axes this winter. Here at Facewest we will be stocking two of their new axes; the Quark and Nomic. Between them they cover the full spectrum of Winter climbing, from easy gullys to steep Ice and mixed climbing. The straighter, slightly longer Quarks are aimed at more general use alpinism but there’s no reason why you couldn’t get up a grade V Scottish winter route with them either. The more aggressively curved Nomics are a more specifically technical tool with steep ice or mixed climbing routes in mind, but with fewer general ice axe work features. They are both refinements on popular classics that do not stray too far from their original designs.
The Petzl Quark axe is probably one of the most versatile axes out there, with all the features you are likely to need whether you’re crossing a glacier in the Alps or hacking your way up Point 5 Gully. At 50cm long it’s just about long enough to get away with as a walking axe, unless you’re a 6 foot 5 monster. While the shaft has a much greater curve than specific walking axes the lower shaft and handle are straight so the Quark plunges nicely in softer snow. The steel spike on the bottom is durable enough to withstand years of planting in hard ice. The upper trig rest can be moved up or removed completely to aid with plunging and removal.
As the terrain steepens up a pair of Quarks really comes into its own. Petzl have obviously put a lot thought not just into the design but the way it feels to climb. The balance point of the Quarks is spot on, they feel like most of the weight sits higher up on the axe which means more weight is transferred into the head of the axe when striking. This feels like a more efficient swing and can be increased by adding the compatible head weights. The curve is just enough to enable good Ice placements and clean removal and the bottom hand rest does a good job of protecting your hand on steep Ice. The top trig rest can be adjusted to fit different hand sizes or accommodate big gloves on those really terrible Winter days.
If you are looking for a first pair of technical axes and want something that will pretty much do it all then the Quarks are for you.
The original Petzl Nomics were incredibly popular technical axes that you would see on the back of most serious winter climbers packs. Also popular with guides they were a steep ice and mixed climbers dream. The new Nomics pretty much stick to the old tried and tested design with a few new features, lower weight and most importantly, no wobbly head! The overall curve of the shaft remains the same enabling clean removal from the ice and precise placement. The handle has had a redesign, hollowing it out slightly to lower the weight, it’s also ‘shifted back’ a little and has a more pronounced top trig rest to provide better protection from the ice and cold rock. The rubberised grip also extends above the top trig rest rather than the grip tape one the previous version.
The Nomics really come into their own on steeper ground where the more pronounced curve and set back grip protect your hands from constant contact with cold Ice and rock. Hanging from them is also more comfortable on hard mixed or dry tooling routes. Where the Nomics fall down is on less technical climbing or trying to get away with using them as a walking axe. The aggressive curve and handle design mean that plunging a Nomic is not as effective as a straight axe, the curve also reduces the length so you will struggle using it for stability on an exposed ridge scramble.
If you are looking for a second pair of axes for technical climbing or already know you are going to be climbing Scottish grade IV or above then these are the axes for you, but you already knew that didn’t you, just buy a pair – you know you want to.
|Weight per Axe||Shaft Rating||Picks Included||Head weights included||Adze|
|Petzl Quark||550g||T-Rated||Ice Picks||No||Included with Adze option|
|Petzl Nomic||585g||T-Rated||Ice Picks||Yes||Sold separately|