Top Mountain Climbing Picks to Buy

mountain climbing pick

Getting into ice climbing has never been easier, thanks to modern ice climbing tools. Over 100 years of development has resulted in a variety ice tools designed for a range of winter climbing, such as pure ice lines, mixed routes and dry tooling. Here is a list of the top best mountain climbing picks to buy.

Cassin X-Dreams

A man standing on the side of a mountain

Price: $366 CAD
Weight: 595g

The Cassin X-Dreams are high functioning, modular tools. You are best saving these aggressive tools for high-end ice and mixed climbing. Its handle can be adjusted between “Dry” and “Ice” modes offering roughly the same clearance as the Petzl Ergonomic and Nomic, respectively. The Dry mode reduces pick shift when alternating between upper and lower pommels, while Ice mode swings better in vertical or slightly overhung terrain.

When bringing the X-Dreams on an alpine climb with snow-bound or glaciated approaches, consider swapping out the handle for the X-Dream Alpine Handle; the bottom spike will provide vastly more security than the default handle. And for those with small hands, Cassin sells handle-height inserts to accommodate a variety of users. The X-Dreams can also be fitted with head weights and hammers which are worthy investments for this lightweight tool. Although hammering in a piton is difficult with such a curved shaft, the hammer is useful when tapping tools into thin ice or resetting in-situ piton placements.

DMM Switch

A group of people walking on the side of a mountain

Price: $365 CAD
Weight: 676 grams

The Switch boasts a hot-forged handle with full-strength pommels and an integrated full-strength clip-in point. The one-piece aluminum handle is fully rubber coated for optimal grip and control. The handle is large but comfortable: roomy enough for cold-weather use with large gloves but not too spacious for hard mixed. The shaft’s extreme bend affords massive clearance over bulges and mushrooms, while the Ice pick displaces minimal ice and cleans easily.

Removable pick weights allow for customization of the swing, and can be completely removed for extended drytooling sessions. Each tool comes with a roll of grip tape to customize the handle, and there are both hammer and adze versions available of the ice and mix picks. The Switch is a hefty tool, but with no discernible flex whatsoever, it feels absolutely indestructible. A fantastic all-around tool.

Trango Raptor

Price: $365 CAD
Weight: 640 grams

The Raptor is one of the most solid tools we’ve used at its price point. It performs well on steep and featured ice and holds up on moderate mixed. The Raptor excels on WI4 and WI5 climbs. It’s not ideal for steep mixed routes due to its curvature, so avoid routes that overhang more than 30-degrees. The tool’s weight sans pick hits the industry average on the nose, but it comes with a pick weight that you can add or remove. The handle is thinner and more narrow than similar tools, which benefits smaller hands.

Like all tools, a visit your local climbing store helps you to get a feel for the grip and weight. We used the ice pick, which comes with the tool. It tapers from 3mm at the tip to 4mm at the shaft. The middle teeth are aggressive enough that hooking pre-existing holes feels bomber. The flip-side is that you have to work to clean the tool after each move. The clip-in point at the base is big enough for a locking carabiner. The clip-in point at the head has plenty of room. The Raptor performs nearly as well as the high-end tools, but at half the price.

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