CAMP Corsa lightweight ice axe, a wee look

These have had some coverage in Trail, but it’s good to have a closer look at the features for those interested in trying one out. I’ll be using one of these this winter depending on where we’re going. So once I’ve had a good go with it I’ll get the news on here, good or bad.


Looks pretty standard. The adze is welded on which is usually a sign of cheapness, here I’m happy to see it as the it’s probably the toughest bit of the head and will keep the adze attached if you try and chop a step through an unexpectedly tough crust.

The shape of the adze is good, clever thinking has given it the shape that the soft metal would probably have worn into after a good bit of use if it was a standard shape. I’m hoping this and the sculpting will give it a bit more longevity.

The end of the shaft is cut to give you a spike shape for penetration, the ferrule you see holds a plastic plug in place to stop you carrying an aluminium wrapped ice lolly by the end of the day. You’ll see the little cuts into the front edge to give you a bit of grip.

This area will wear first and might decide the lifespan of the axe. Unless of course, you actually have to self arrest with it. Then it takes on the role of drivers air bag. One crash and it’s back to the garage for repair or replacement.

The head is pretty comfy in the hand, quite wide, but the teeth aren’t so sharp and won’t shred your gloves. It’ll take a leash no problem.


The head won’t penetrate ice well at all, it isn’t meant to. But they’ve profiled the pick well so that if you have to it’ll have a good go at it.

I like the feel of it, at 250g for the 60cm it really is light. The length will give me a good swing for step cutting, so that doesn’t worry me. Anyway my arms aren’t made of cheese straws with bread sticks for fingers. This criticism of lightweight axes, that folks can’t swing them seems to assume that users are always going to be a bunch of feeble incapables. Unlikely I would hope?

It’ll take some thought on the side of the user, if it’s chucked about like my old favourite Mountain Technology Alpine, it’ll be burst in no time. But people aren’t stupid, we adapt. We just need the facts, not patronising.

On walking routes, or as a will I/won’t I need it tool it looks like it’s on the money.

Time will tell. More to follow.

15 thoughts on “CAMP Corsa lightweight ice axe, a wee look”

  1. You think a fairly hairy self arrest would really bust it up that badly?

    I can see it perhaps if it catches a rock perhaps – but I don’t know – it may well take it.

    I guess some practice chucking yourself down summat is in order? :)

  2. I don’t think it would burst the pick off as such, I’d be more worried about flexing or stress during an arrest. I would be happy practising self arrest in a clear patch of snow with it though.
    Aluminium does’t really like it much, I suppose it depends on the alloy though. It’ll probably be a clever mix of metals that’ll take the abuse better.
    I’ve seen aluminium fail plenty, it creases and then unzips.

    The Corsa is a really nice bit of kit though.

    We should have some Corsa Nanotech’s arriving as well, I’m not so sure about them though. That pick attachment looks ungainly in the pictures.

  3. I started a thread on OM a couple of years ago, asking for opinions on lightweight axes but it all came to nought. The advice was there but I procrastinated and ended up with a Cirque and an industrial-strength MT Snow Leopard. (Don’t ask)
    I think I’ll give the Corsa a go, tho’ I see Mr F&L has scuppered my plans by shutting for the weekend. Best wait ’til Monday then. :o)

    Nice Purple background in the photies btw.

  4. Yeah the purple goes well with what I think must be a Rab Drilium? Better nick than mine – mine’s covered in seam grip to stop it falling apart!

    But as to aluminium’s strength – it does depend massively on the grade you’re using as to how strong it is. Just think about DAC poles for tents. The stress they go through before they break is unbelievable and they’re thin as you like.

    I remember reading about it somewhere ages back – can’t recall where – but can remember being really surprised at the huge difference in failure points between different grades.

    I’m interested in hearing what you think of the Nanotech. I like the look of them and the extra weight “for the ladies” might be handy ;)

    Camp have a huge resolution image of them:

  5. Hmm – I notice from the manual that they’re both “UIAA B Rated” so considered to be “proper” axes (unlike the carbon fibre “Helix Potty Trowel” for instance).

    The Nanotech also gets three out of five triangles for “Basic Alpinism” – but the Corsa only gets two… draw from that what you will.

  6. Kev, the Cirque is no’ bad though, is not quite light? The only issue I have with that style is self arrest with the kinked shaft, I’ve got a feeling it’ll snatch and send me arse over tit down the hillside.

    RedYeti, yes indeed. Mountain bike frames are another aluminium specification minefield, 6000 and 7000 series tubes being the most familiar, and with heat treatments and forming processes it all gets very murky.
    It’s one of those areas you have to hope that the manufacturer knows what they’re doing.

    As you say, CAMP seem to think that they’re “fit for purpose” axes. We’re just stuck in our over cautions ways here maybe?

  7. The Cirque was indeed quite light but a) it saw no real action and b) I wisnae happy with the kinked shaft either. Looked ideally angled for a spot of high speed disembowelling. Off to Ebay it went and I’m back where I started :o)

  8. Maybe we are – it’s a hard thing to throw off the years of “But you must have 4mm thick leather boots with gaiters you could make a tent from and an axe fit for Balmat’s first ascent of Mont Blanc son or you’ll die! DIE!! And everyone will just laugh because it’s your own fault as you not wearing the RIGHT kit!!”

    But I think it must be thrown off :)

    And you’re out there, at the 8yd skip (for that’s what it’ll take – think of the weight of the gear) throwing harder than most of us ;)

  9. Good lads :o)

    Here I forgot to say that the jacket was indeed a Rab, but that fine orange cuff is actually from a Neutrino Endurance.
    Why I sweated through taking those pictures in that jacket is a mystery to me even now.

  10. > “should have some Corsa Nanotech’s arriving as well, I’m not so sure about them though.”

    Have they arrived yet? If so, what did you think? I liked the look of it myself.

  11. No sign as yet. I’ll get some close ups and get them on here when they show though.
    There’s so little information on these axes, the CAMP site has the big glamour portrait shots, but no real detail. And you never really know until you get one in your hand if it’s only good for sticking in your garden to support a sapling or not.
    I know it probably defeats the purpose of having the lighter axes, but carrying a longer Corsa and a 50cm Nanotech would be ideal for almost any Scottish winter walking scenario.

  12. Aye, that’s happened.
    In a similar vein, a mate of mine twice forgot his hood. He had an old Sprayway Torridon waterproof with the stud-off hood. Once we were climbing the Easins at Loch Trieg and it started pissing down and he said “My wife takes the hood off when she borrows my jacket” My Lowe Alpine mountain cap saved the day there. The next time was heading up the A82 in a blizzard at 20mph and came across a car stuck sideways into the scenery, we stopped to help and as he pulled out his jacket, yes the hood was missing again.
    We went home after that.

    The might have been one of the last times I can remember the roads being consistently snow covered, late 90s.

  13. Right. The deed is done and now I await the postie. What’s the betting there’s a major thaw between now and it getting here?

    Pop off hoods? Velez? I’ll say no more.

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