Black Diamond Viper
Price Paid: $200
Great ice tool for pure ice climbing. Even with the add on features (fang, ...), it's not as good as the new specialized tools for dry tooling. And, with their curved shafts, they lose some of their usefulness in alpine settings. You can get by with your Vipers just about anywhere; but they're really in their element on pure waterfall ice.
They have a nice weight/heft to them. Not too light, not too heavy. The shape gives really good clearance over bulges. The handle is nicely shaped (hourglass shape gives you great control of the direction of your placement). BD picks are as good as any of the other top picks on the market. I find I get great sticks with my Vipers but sometimes find them a bit hard to pull out. Probably more an issue with my technique than a problem with the tool.
Vipers work well both with a full arm swing or with a wrist-flick. The Viper Android leashes are awesome once you get used to them. They have one bad flaw though: the length is such that once you get them adjusted perfectly for climbing in them, they are not long enough to allow you to put your hand on top of the head of the tool. Awkward... But, all in all, for waterfall ice, you can't go wrong with these tools. Plus, they've held up really well now after three winters of moderate use.
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