User Review: Black Diamond Raven with Grip
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $95
Raven with some really nice upgrades. The luxury model!
- Good self-arrest
- Excellent head design
- A bit heavier than some (50 gms extra?)
- ...but that can be a good thing
First there was the BD Raven, then the lighter Raven Pro, and the Raven Ultra. And now the Raven with some modern upgrades. While this isn't as hard core as the Raven Pro, this axe is a nice notch up in other areas.
It comes with a slider leash and a comfortable dual-density handle, both helpful on a winter traverse. In my opinion, using an axe without a leash is kind of like driving a car without a seatbelt, since if you fall and lose the axe in the process, you're pretty much done. And when you're carrying the axe by the shaft, the softer handgrip stops your hand from freezing and provides a more secure grip.
I like the pick's curve and teeth, and when I tried out a few self-arrests, I found them to have excellent grip. Showed off a bit at an ice face by sinking the tip and hanging off it, just like an ice-climbing axe. I like the heavier adze for chopping steps or digging a hole. The hand grip is set flush with the shaft so it doesn't interfere with plunging, and you can get a solid grip when the footing's tricky. The head is also notched with a comfortable finger grips to make it easy to hang onto, and it has a moderate positive angle.
The shaft is aircraft-grade aluminum, and the head is investment-cast stainless steel, just like the other BD axes. Base weight is about 450 gms, and the additional weight of the leash would be nominal, so it's right in the mid-range of modern ice axes.