After much happiness using the CAMP Corsa and Corsa Nanotech ice axes last winter, I looked about earlier this winter to see what else was lightweight and properly usable and Black Diamond’s Raven Ultra seemed like the best bet, and I’ve been swapping that with Corsa Nanotech the last few months.
It has a straight aluminium shaft which I prefer for walking, stainless steel shaft plug/spike and head, and it’s light at 378g for the 60cm version.
Tha shaft is plain and the orange gloss finish is rock hard, there’s hardly a mark on it so far. There’s no grip of any kind on the end of shaft for step cutting, so depending on what gloves you’re wearing doing that will either be frustrating or issue free. It does make for easy shaft placement on a slope of course, so it’s one of these things that you have to pick where you want to compromise a bit of performance or convenience.
The spike is a lovely shaped insert that cuts through a frozen crust and protects the shaft end very well, it’s also shallow so you don’t fill the shaft full of snow.
The head is a thing of beauty. The shape is ergonomic and the finish is outstanding, the curves make it the most comfortable axe I’ve ever held in my hand, and because your hand is more relaxed it doesn’t feel as cold somehow. The adze is nicely angled for an easy swing into the snow for digging a step or a bucket seat for enjoying a cuppa out of the wind, and the pick is sharp and smoothly curved for purchase on steep ground and for controllable self arrest. Both of which have been tried, the former intentionally, the later unintentionally.
The casting allows easy leash attachment in a position that’s out of the way. The leash you see there is one of my trusty old Troll models, simple, colourful, and now sadly unavailable.
I have to say this has quickly become my favourite axe, it’s heavier than the CAMP’s, but the simple fact that the head is so comfortable in my hand means I’m reaching for it first every time. If I’m less likely to use an axe, the CAMP Corsa will go on the pack.