Posts

The Apex and Switch – DMM Ice Tool Review

DMM is not well known in the US. When you think of ice tools, you think Petzl, Black Diamond , Grivel and most recently Cassin, not DMM. Well once you have a look at these tools, you will start thinking about DMM.

In mid February, DMM gave NEice some of their newest ice tools to review. Since then we have tested them at Lake Willoughby, Cannon Cliff, Crawford Notch and Frankenstein cliff. We have climbed ice from 3+ to 5+ in temperatures ranging from  -5  to 45 degrees F. In all, we logged over 100 hours of climbing with these tools and they are fantastic!

The first thing you will notice about the tools is the quality. The manufacturing of these tools is some of the best I have seen. DMM has been around since 1981 and it shows in the construction and design of these fine tools.

Apex: After a few swings, the Apex felt like they had been mine for years.  – Chris Thomas 

Switch: In my 35 years of ice climbing, the Switch is the best ice tool I have ever used!  – Doug Millen

The Apex ($239)

I was lucky enough to demo pair of DMM Apex tools (thanks NEice.com). From the first time I held them I could tell that they were my next gear purchase. I’m not going to spend time on specifications, that’s what Google is for, I’m not technical enough to know why they matter. What I do know is these tools are perfect for the climbing I do and affordable enough that I’ll have new tools and enough left over to pay the tolls between me and the ice.

The first climb on the DMMs was a moderately steep pitch of 4 ice. A few swings of the Apex and I felt like they had been mine for years. The grip fit my hand well and the tool felt balanced, a little less top heavy than the Cobra. Although the shaft is straighter clearance between my hand and the ice was more than enough. The Apex felt more like the Petzl Quark then the Cobra having a different pull which you could feel in the angel of the wrist.

Bottom line… If you’ve been climbing on Vipers, Cobras. Quarks. etc. and dreaming about a more technical tool that climbs and canes even better, the DMM Apex is your next set of tools. When you consider price and performance of this tool there is no better for the majority of mere human climbers.

The Full Report .

Features

  • Hot forged, ergonomic handle
  • T Rated Integrity Construction
  • Dual hand rests for leashless climbing
  • High clearance shaft
  • Pick weights for bullet hard ice and customized balance
  • Supplied with grip tape for handle/shaft customization
  • Supplied with T Rated Ice picks as standard
  • Can be used with leashes in traditional climbing mode, but excels without leashes
  • Mixed and Ice specific picks available separately. Compact Hammer, Compact Adze, Mountain Adze (Large)

http://dmmclimbing.com/products/apex/

~Chris Thomas

 The Switch ($279)

I have used Nomics for years and I was curious about these tools.

They are slightly heavier than the Nomic but the extra weight feels good and requires less swings in hard ice. The Pick weights are included but I found I did not need them. At about 1 inch longer than the Nomic it was easier to reach for better holds. The tool is fully T rated and you will not be able to break any part of this sturdy tool. The hand grips of the Nomic feel fragile and weak in comparison to the Switch. The handle is glove friendly, hot forged ergonomic with full strength upper and lower rests. If you use different gloves in different conditions you will like this grip and big hands fit well. The coating on the handle is great, I never felt like I was slipping out, even on overhanging ice. The swing of the tool is perfect too and so natural. I am a carpenter and I know a good swinging tool when I feel it. The picks come with the perfect shape for ice or mixed climbing and are pre-tuned. I never touched the picks with a file.  The Picks go right in, and come right out, no problem,  yet they feel really sticky and secure in the ice. The Switch as it’s name implies remains in balance when switching hands on the rests.

The only concern of mine is how the coating on the handle will hold up over time. So far, so good, not even a nick.

Bottom Line…I have switched from Nomics to the Switch, and I have loved every moment of the last 6 weeks climbing with this tool. The Switch is now my tool of choice.

Features

  • Glove friendly, hot forged ergonomic handle with full strength upper and lower rests and supreme stability
  • T Rated Integrity Construction
  • Full strength clip-in point accessible from either rest
  • High clearance shaft
  • Inboard eyelet allows threading of cord for use with freedom leashes
  • Pick weights for bullet hard ice and customized balance
  • Supplied with grip tape for handle/shaft customization
  • Supplied with T Rated Ice picks as standard
  • Mixed and Ice specific picks available separately. Compact Hammer, Compact Adze, Mountain Adze (Large)

http://dmmclimbing.com/products/switch/

 A few photos of the tools

You can get them at The Mountaineer 

http://store.mountaineer.com/product_p/dmmapex.htm

http://store.mountaineer.com/product_p/dmmswitch.htm

~Doug Millen

 

New Petzl Tools

If you could change the Nomic, what would do? That’s easy; add a hammer and a spike. Well Petzl is working on this and the proto types are here.

See photos at Escalade Quebec / Forum

“The tools we are seeing at the show now and out climbing (Ueli Steck and the Petzl web page) are still prototypes. Close but still protos. I found it interesting the even Steck hadn’t seen or used the new tools till just last week.” – Dane

“All the new tools are now taking the older style Nomic picks. But now they are cut to take hammer and adze (the coldthistle hammer and adze are lighter fwiw). All the picks are now T rated as well and with a 3 year guarantee!” – Dane

Source: CascadeClimbers.com / forum

“Check them out and start drooling”  – pcooke

“The thing that attracts me the most, is the Nomic with the hammer…Now you have to carry a third tool for hammering stuff when you climb with those….if they manage to put a spike as well, those tools will see more usage on the mountains…” – farmax

Source: NEice.com / forum

The forum threads:

http://cascadeclimbers.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/ubb/showflat/Number/935212/gonew/1/OR_show_neat_shit_thread#UNREAD

https://www.neice.com/forum/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=51302#Post51302

Time to Sharpen your Gear!

Climb safe, Climb sharp!

IceAd2Ice Season is upon us and now is the time to sharpen your gear for the sketchy early season thin conditions and the mid-winter fatty flows.
Griz Guides offers a complete ice gear sharpening service for screws ($8, Ti $12), crampons ($25) and picks ($5).
Check it out online at: www.grizguides.com or call at 215.499.7832

Griz is a long time NEice contrubiter and auther of the guide book, Ice Climbing in Pennsylvania.