Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Cordillera Blanca Gear Tests:
Black Diamond Viper Ice Tools

Black Diamond Viper Ice ToolJust as they do on steep ice, the Black Diamond Viper Ice Tools performed great on long, 60-80 degree faces. Their shape allows a natural swing on low-angle ice (not much wrist flick needed), and the shaft plunged easily in firm snow. I used the Viper Android leashes which prevent grabbing the top of the tool. However, they were so easy to un-clip that it wasn’t much of an issue. A better solution would have been the standard Android leashes (if you want to stick with a clip leash) or the Lockdown leash.

The Fang would have added warmth by keeping my hands off the ice, but would have decreased plunging ability. Pick what’s important and make a choice.

My only complaint is that I feel a slight flex in the tool when drytooling. This is likely a product of the minor-axis shaft. I’m not concerned with the tools strength, but the movement is a bit unnerving on difficult terrain.

Make your own choice:
  • Plunge easily
  • Climb steep and mellow ice with equal ease
  • Perceivable flex is a little spooky
  • Standard leash system is a bit limiting (but comes seperate)

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