- Sports and Recreation
Petzl Ride Ice Axe Review
Petzl Ride Ice Axe Review
The Petzl Ride is one of the latest additions to Petzl's newly designed line of ice tools. I was initially drawn to the incredible scale weight but over the months found myself appreciating many of the subtle nuances of this axe. Billed as a ski mountaineering or glacier travel tool, the Petzl Ride weighs in at only 240g and is only available in a 45cm length with only an adze variety. Perpetually on a quest to lighten my pack weight, this tool became my summer go-to for glacier approaches for alpine rock, snowy descents off alpine objectives and all those times you couldn't decide if your objective really required a tool.
Petzl Ride Tech Specs
7056 Series Aluminum
Plunging and Self-Arrest
Machined grip at the head features slight grooves to sit naturally in the hand and the adze tapers slightly at the junction of the shaft, making it very comfortable in the hand. If anything, the comfortable hand position and the light weight almost made me forget I was carrying it for a while and I was worried I'd loosen my grip and drop it. But this made the tool very natural in the hand for plunging. Granted at only 45cm it found it's best use when traversing steep slopes, kicking up couloirs or down climbing on snow. The bevelled spike cut into hard pack fairly easily and certainly up to he standard I'd expect from an aluminum shaft. It packed the ease of shall we say, a hot forged Grivel spike but that should be expected at less than half the weight of a burlier classic piolet.
The narrower neck at the adze helped easily flip the tool into self arrest position and the curved shaft nestled nicely into the nook of my chest, further improving the position and leverage. The angles appear well designed.
Swinging and Stabbing
The Petzl Ride is first and foremost a mountaineering piolet. It is primarily intended for use in snow and those seeking an alpine ice climber should look elsewhere. That said, the all steel pick, beginning at 4mm and tapering down to 3mm penetrated relatively dense ice with ease and is ample for surmounting short ice bulges and the like. Gripping the tool in "piolet appui" position and punching into hard pack snow was also possible albeit with some difficulty. You have the option to add the Trigrest, similar to the Quark to make this position more comfortable. But the classic curve to the pick is not optimized for swinging, nor would I believe the pick to last prolonged abuse. If the ability to swing more is important to you, I'd suggest exploring the Petzl Gully, which features the identical shaft but uses the same pick steel as the line of technical tools from Petzl.
The Petzl Ride is only available in an adze version, which is very small and slotted. It is sufficient for chopping a few steps or levelling out a small stance but simply doesn't remove enough snow and ice to say clear a platform for a tent. It was also a time-consuming process cutting into hardpack to get deep enough to bury a deadman's anchor. However, the angles felt okay and the small adze was a decent shape. The short tool made it stressful on the back though and I wouldn't want to be forced to cut a lot, particularly angling downhill. Those seeking the ability to extensively chop would be better suited for a longer traditional tool.
After one summer of use, I suspect the durability of the Petzl Ride is exactly what it should be for an aluminum tool of its stature. It is important to remember that specialized pieces of kit like this will simply not take the intended abuse that a more robust option will. That said, I've hit rocks, scraped chimneys, plunged into scree and hauled on the shaft making a deadman's and my Petzl Ride is showing no signs for the worse, save a few scratches on the shaft. It is Type 1 (B) rated in both the shaft and the pick.
I've grown extremely fond of lightweight direction Petzl has taken with their newest line. For ski or general mountaineering, or fast and light summer alpinism, pretty much anything orange from Petzl is the way to go and the Ride is no exception. For me, the standout features are, first and foremost, the weight but secondly the ability to fit the entire tool inside an 18L backpack. Frankly, if you're ever debating the need to bring a tool, you lose all excuses for not by owning a Petzl Ride. While this tool won't do everything, it has become and will remain a mainstay in my kit.
Buy the Petzl Ride Ice Axe now
© 2017 Kurt Morrison