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Black Diamond Raven

rated 3.0 of 5 stars
photo: Black Diamond Raven mountaineering axe/piolet

How much can you say about an ice axe? This is not the lightest axe or strongest axe, but it's the best general mountaineering axe on the market. It does its job.


  • Comfortable grip
  • Perfect weight


  • No fancy features

Call me old school, but I believe an ice axe is the last place to try to save weight. You want something strong and burly. If you want to cut ounces, go for a jog and lose the love handles.The Raven is perfect for self belay and self arrest. Make you get it long enough — if you need something shorter, get a more technical axe like the BD Venom.

And after all my harping about weight, the difference between this and the Pro model actually isn't all that much. It is still very lightweight. It's not a pain to carry on a long climb. I find it to be the perfect weight for chopping steps, for example, but I wouldn't want it any lighter.

What really sets the Raven and the Raven Pro apart from the others? In the end, it's the comfort in your hand. It's way more comfortable than most Grivel or Petzl axes. It is easy to get a good grip on this thing when your life depends on it.

I'm not sure what others are complaining about with this axe. It doesn't have a rubbery grip. You don't want one of those, but you can go buy that model of the Raven if you decide you just have to have a grippy ice axe.

If you want to climb ice, get something stronger, heavier, more expensive, and less suitable for general mountaineering. If you refuse to take ice axes because they weight too much, you can find ski mountaineering axes that are considerably lighter than this one. But for the standard mountaineer, this is the one you want.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $70

The only positive with this product is the price, which although low for an ice ax not even worth it.

The pick is narrow and rather annoying, it reminds me of a pencil. The adze is cut out in the center and is horrible for cutting steps (if you ever have to). The shaft offers no grip whatsoever.

The only reason you should ever buy this ax is if you are ONLY going to be using it on very very easy slopes and want a cheap ax "just in case". Otherwise cough up some dough and go with a Grivel or Petzl.

Price Paid: way too much

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Price MSRP: $79.95
Current Retail: $99.95-$119.95
Historic Range: $34.98-$119.95
Reviewers Paid: $70.00
Product Details from Black Diamond »