The Low Down:
Grivel Nepal SA Ice Axe / 3 sizes: 58, 66 or 74cm / 480g
$63 CAD from MEC (as of Sept 2011)
Yay: Good value, Durable, Lightweight, Comes with leash
Nay: None that I can think of
If you’re going on a hike with potential for snow it’s a good idea to carry a general mountaineering axe. Before my trip up to Golden Ears Provincial Park I decided to buy one and went with the Grivel Nepal SA (short for self-arrest) Ice Axe. Boy was I glad to have one for that hike, you can see in the photo you have to cross some big snow fields to get to the peak of Golden Ears.
For the price it has great value, I’m not really at the point where I need anything fancier. I bought mine from MEC and they only had one left at the time in the 58cm size. It feels very durable and the shaft is designed with a slight bend inwards towards the pick to aid with self-belay and self-arrest. It weighs about 480g, has negative pick clearance, and comes with a leash. Good to note the adze makes a solid shovel for cutting steps and I found the pick pierces easily and grips well whilst also being helpful with pulling out my tent pegs. Yay multifunction!
I think the better size for me would have been the 66cm and I’m around 5’4. The 58cm works fine and I’m going to keep it overall, but 66cm would have been more comfortable especially when using the axe to help ascend/descend snow. It’s recommended to have an axe length of 60 to 70cm for general climbing, and for further reading there’s a really informative chapter on Snow Travel and Climbing in “Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills“.
You can find more information about the Grivel Nepal SA Ice Axe on their website.