Awesome multi purpose ice axe/tool hybrid. Climbs…
Source: bought via a "pro deal"
Awesome multi purpose ice axe/tool hybrid. Climbs ice better than expected, and performs great as a ice tool. A perfect choice for the scrambler who wants a more climbing oriented axe, an alpinist looking for a tool to get across glaciers, snow, neve, and alpine ice, or the jack of all trades axe that can do it all.
- Good weight
- Adjustable pommel
- Good ice axe and ice tool
- Ergonomic head
- Cold shaft
- B rated picks
- No hand grip
The Sum'tec is a terrific all round mountain tool. It's definitely an odd combination between a mountaineering axe and an ice tool. The tool definitely seems to be a perfect blend coming together as the perfect multipurpose alpine tool.
As a an ice tool they are almost as curved as the Quark. The picks are fairly wide, 4.5mm, and they have rather blunt teeth, all in stainless steel. To me this seems a mistake. Any improvement in durability is offset by the challenge to sharpen them. Being replaceable picks I didn't see the need for added durability of stainless steel. They are also B rated which seems a disappointment, thought I can't imagine anyone doing any significant today tooling on these.
My concern when buying them was that perhaps this was designed more as a neve tool for Chamonix, and not for ice. However having climbed with them on ice they work way better then I thought they would. On WI4 they swung well, the adze and hammer placing a good deal of weight behind the pick, and stuck much better than I anticipated. The teeth held well, and overall was remarkably similar to the quarks.
One downside was the absence of a rubber handgrip. I imagine this was ommitted to prioritize the tool as a mountaineering axe, and to make pommel adjustment easier. I can't help but wish that they opted for a slightly recessed grip. As it stands, the shaft is very cold in winter and a little harder to hold onto without grip tape. Any grip tape makes adjustments a challenge on the sections where the grip tape overlaps itself.
As a mountaineering axe the Sum Tec is excellent. Both the adze and the hammer feel comfortable to hold "a piolet" thanks to an ergonomic fit, and no teeth closest to the shaft. With the pommel up it plunges effortlessly. I've used the Quark as an alpine tool and was surprised how arduous it can be plunging as there is a little micro pommel even with the large pommel removed. The Sum'tec has a single aggressive spike which also provides solid purchase. The adze is larger than I would have expected and very effective. Also not trimmed so it is a passable shovelling implement. The hammer functions well.
For me at 5'10" the 52cm is a bit short for walking with, even on 40 degree terrain. If your primary use is mountaineering I would definitely recommend the Summit Evo, or the 59cm Sum Tec more. That being said it still arrests well, offering a quick bite, and fits against the body well despite being a little more curved than what I am used to. That curve also makes it dagger better than any mountaineering axe I've ever used. For scrambling and mixed moves the pommel allows you to easily switch between a good piolet and a good hooking tool.
As an alpine tool the Sum'tec combines both its great performance as a piolet and an ice tool to take on any kind of terrain. Pommel adjustments allow you to switch between an effective ice tool for alpine ice, and then plunge deep and secure.