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OR Blackdiamond Raven Ice Axe - David Wilkes

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  • amatbrewer
    Please except this owner review. You will find the HTML version in the Owner Reviews folder @: http://tinyurl.com/dwilkes Thanks in advance for finding any
    Message 1 of 6 , Oct 16, 2011
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      Please except this owner review. You will find the HTML version in the Owner Reviews folder @: http://tinyurl.com/dwilkes
      Thanks in advance for finding any errors I may have made and for any comments or suggestions you may have.

      Dave Wilkes


      Owner Review by David Wilkes
      Black Diamond Raven Ice Axe
      Oct 16 2011

      Tester Information

      Name: David Wilkes
      E-Mail: amatbrewer@...
      Age: 46
      Location: Yakima Washington USA
      Gender: M
      Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
      Weight: 175 lb (79 kg)

      Biography:
      I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions. I prefer trips on rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me. I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not including consumables, to under 30lbs (14 kg).

      Product Information

      Manufacturer: Black Dimond

      Year of Manufacture: 2007

      Manufacturer's Website: http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com

      MSRP: US$ 79.95
      Advertised Weight: 437 g, 15 oz (55 cm)
      Measured Weight: 437 g, 15 oz (55 cm)

      Product Description:
      This is a basic mountaineering ice axe for alpine climbing on low to moderate angle terrain (vs. a technical tool for climbing steep/vertical ice) with a CEN-B rating (vs. a CEN-T for technical tools). It consists of a lightweight aluminum shaft with a stainless steel spike on one end and a "investment-cast" one piece stainless steel head on the other. The axe has a straight shaft that is gray with the Black Diamond name and logo. The spike has a cutout in the center to save weight and creates an attachment point. The adze side of the head also contains a cutout, diamond shaped, partly for decoration and partly to save weight. The head has a second cutout just above where the head connects to the shaft; this is the primary connection point, for anchoring and/or a leash.

      In reviewing the current version of this axe the only change in the design I can see is that it looks like they have added another cut out in the head just above the leash cutout.

      The pick has an aggressive saw tooth cut in to it's under side and a very sharp edge to the point. The adze also has a very sharp edge (not quite knife sharp, more like a hatchet but ground only on one, the bottom side).
      I purchased the 70 cm size (28 in). Note: Ice axes are normally listed in metric units as a nod to their European origin.

      Owner Review

      Use
      1 climb of Mt Shasta (Northern California) 14,179 feet (4,322 m)
      6-7 climbs of Mt Adams (Washington Cascades) 12,281 ft (3,743 m) 
      2 climbs of Mt St Helens Washington Cascades) 8,365 ft (2,550 m)

      Review
      The Black Diamond Raven was my first ice axe, I purchased it in preparation for climbing Mt Shasta (Northern California), and prior to this I had no experience with using an ice axe. Along with the axe I purchased a leash, but since this is an accessory I will not go into detail about that other than to say it is a good match for the ice axe and installs easily and securely.
      Aside for one trip this summer this has been my one and only axe for my alpine trips. On this last trip I loaned my Raven to a first time climber (it made sense to give her the lighter and shorter axe) and in its place used a very old axe I picked up because it was so cheap (longer and weighs more than twice as much). I only mention this as it is my main reference for comparing the comfort, weight, and length of the Raven.

      One of the things I like best about the Raven is how comfortable it is in my hand. Since I don't do technical climbing, the majority of the time I am using the axe as an aid in walking with the axe head in my hand. The head and neck (where the head attaches to the shaft) are narrow enough to comfortably fit in my hand and all of the edges are rounded and smooth making it comfortable even when wearing only thin liner gloves. Note: I don't think I have ever used this without wearing at least a pair of thin liner gloves. My other axe has a much wider head/neck and does not have the rounded edges and I found it could get uncomfortable when using/carrying it for extended periods even with gloves.

      I have used the axe as an anchor when stopping on steep terrain by plunging the shaft into the snow, along with the leash, it has worked quite well for this being easy to insert and remove. On one trip up Mt Adams the conditions were rather poor with high winds and the surface was mostly hard ice. On this trip I was unable to plunge the shaft into the snow/ice to create an anchor so used the pick. The pick penetrated the ice quite well and held firmly. On a few occasions I have used the adz head to carve seats and/or platforms into steep slopes to provide a stable spot for myself and others to rest. The small adz head is not very efficient for moving snow/ice but it very effective at carving and/or chipping away the ice. In camp I have also used the adz head to chop out chunks of ice for melting and it worked very well.

      Aside from use as walking aid, the second most use I have gotten out of this axe is for glissading where I use it with the spike of the handle in the snow for breaking, and when necessary for self arrest. In addition to practice and teaching others, I have had to use the axe for self arrest a few times when getting out of control during a glissade and/or when other sliders have unexpectedly stopped in the way. These have occurred in various conditions from soft snow to crusted snow to hard ice and in every case the axe has performed flawlessly (if it had not I might not be here to write this). I should note that the axe can get a real workout when I am glissading. I have been known to get a bit wild and have even managed to melt the pocket of my pack during one high-speed glissade in icy conditions.

      One additional use I have gotten out of the tool is as an improvised hatchet. I have used the adze to chop off small (pencil to finger thick) branches for use as kindling.

      My only regret about this axe is its length. Since getting some experience I believe a longer shaft would have been a better choice for me. As I mentioned, this was my first axe and while I had done some research into what I thought I needed, I could find no good consensus on the proper length, so I went with the majority opinion by getting one that when held by the head in my hand extends to about my ankle. I figured I would simply replace it with what I really needed after I broke or wore out this one. Unfortunately, so far from what I can tell I doubt I will "need" to replace this axe in the foreseeable future. Aside for a few nicks and scratches on the shaft (cosmetic only) the axe is showing virtually no signs of wear and no indications as to any part that might fail. So it is looking like if I ever hope to replace this axe, I will need to sell, give away, or lose this one.

      Summary
      What can I say about a tool like this? It does exactly what it is intended for, with no extras and no problems. As far as I can tell it is an ideal balance of strength/durability and weight. Made of only 3 parts (head, shaft, and spike) all securely attached with no signs of loosening or wear, all indications are that this could last a lifetime (of course I try not to think about it failing and my life ending could just happen to coincide┬ů). Aside for not getting the longer version I have had no regret in my purchase of this product.

      Likes:

      Lightweight
      Simple, with few extras
      Durable

      Dislikes:

      None
    • Jamie D.
      PLEASE READ THIS EMAIL IN FULL. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT! Thanks for your Owner s Review. It has been added to the Owner Review Queue and will be picked up by an
      Message 2 of 6 , Oct 20, 2011
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        PLEASE READ THIS EMAIL IN FULL. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT!

        Thanks for your Owner's Review. It has been added to the Owner Review Queue and will be picked up by an Edit Moderator soon. If you are new to BackpackGearTest.org, welcome to the community! The Editors will work with you, within their own time constraints, to get your first two Owner Reviews approved and upload in a timely manner. Do not worry if nothing happens with it for several days. All our Editors are volunteers and your report will be subject to an official edit within fourteen days. If you have not had a response from an Edit Moderator via the Yahoo Groups list within this timeframe, please let me know directly at jdeben(at)hotmail.com

        To assist in this process, if this is your first Owner Review we ask that you post only ONE Owner Review for edit at a time. Our experience is that it is more efficient for both the Editors and
        yourself, if you post your first review, have it edited, approved and uploaded before you post your second and subsequent reviews.

        Once your first two Owner Reviews have been approved and you have submitted your Tester Agreement you will be eligible to start applying for Tests. If you'd like more assistance or guidance with the process you can request a mentor by sending an email to Jenn K., the mentor coordinator, at mentor (at) backpackgeartest.org.

        You may receive edits or comments from other members of the group. These edits and comments, while not official, should be considered carefully, and if you find them substantial, revise and re-post your review. Incorporating member edits and re-submitting to the list
        will usually result in a better review, as well as making things easier for the official Editor. Please put REVISED in the subject line of your re-submitted review if you take this route or make any
        changes to your review BEFORE the review has been taken by an Edit Moderator.

        Additionally, it is important for you to monitor the Yahoo Groups list to keep track of the progress of your Owner Review. Once an Editor has taken your OR and made the necessary edits they will post their comments to the list with EDIT in the subject line. Once you have incorporated these edits into your review please use REPOST in the subject line. When your OR has been approved by the Editor they will use APPROVED in the subject line.

        If you'd like to keep track of the progress of your OR while it's in the edit queue, the entire Owner Review Queue is posted to this yahoo group list on either Thursdays or Fridays.

        If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask via the list or contact me directly.

        Regards
        Jamie DeBenedetto
        Editors Team Director
      • Ray
        Hi David, Thanks for your review, your edits will follow. But one thing you need to do right away is change the title and all the specs as you have the Raven
        Message 3 of 6 , Oct 25, 2011
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          Hi David,

          Thanks for your review, your edits will follow. But one thing you need to do right away is change the title and all the specs as you have the Raven Pro, not the Raven. (I recognized it right away as I have one which I reviewed here.) Which brings up a major concern.

          We MUST weigh the gear we review and (even more importantly) test ourselves. You have this in your specs:

          Advertised Weight: 437 g, 15 oz (55 cm)
          Measured Weight: 437 g, 15 oz (55 cm)

          You claim the measured weight is for a 55 cm axe when yours is 70 cm. It certainly looks like you just pasted in the same numbers. Would you please verify the actual weight? You will need to take the leash off first. If you do not have a scale take it to the post office as they have a very accurate one in the lobby for public use.

          (It is very rare for anything to be exactly the listed weight. It puts up a red flag right away.)

          Please repost the review and put a corrected HTML version in the test folder. Here are the edits for the body of the review.

          Ray




          ***The axe has a straight shaft that is gray with the Black Diamond name and logo.

          Comment: it is actually more silver than gray. Maybe light gray?



          ***The pick has an aggressive saw tooth cut in to it's under side and a very sharp edge to the point.

          EDIT: The pick has an aggressive "sawtooth" cut in to "its" "underside" and a very sharp edge to the point.





          ***The adze also has a very sharp edge (not quite knife sharp, more like a hatchet but ground only on one, the bottom side).

          EDIT: more like a hatchet but ground only on the bottom side
          Or; more like a hatchet but ground only on one side, the bottom




          ***I have used the axe as an anchor when stopping on steep terrain by plunging the shaft into the snow, along with the leash, it has worked quite well for this being easy to insert and remove.

          Comment: that is called the belay anchor



          *** the second most use I have gotten out of this axe is for glissading where I use it with the spike of the handle in the snow for breaking,

          EDIT: for "braking"



          ***and when necessary for self arrest.

          EDIT: self-arrest (look for all instances please)



          *** (if it had not I might not be here to write this).

          Comment: ha, how true
        • amatbrewer
          Ray, Thanks for catching my errors. I did weigh it and got 15 oz hence the cut and paste (bad habit). After your comment I double checked, and realized I had
          Message 4 of 6 , Oct 26, 2011
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            Ray,
            Thanks for catching my errors. I did weigh it and got 15 oz hence the cut and paste (bad habit). After your comment I double checked, and realized I had used the listed weight of the Raven, not the Raven Pro. As you noted, the exact match in weight should have raised a red flag especially with the different lengths, very sloppy of me.

            The revised text is below and you will find the HTML in the OR folder at: http://tinyurl.com/6kv9lkk

            Dave


            Owner Review by David Wilkes
            Black Diamond Raven Pro Ice Axe
            Oct 16 2011

            Tester Information

            Name: David Wilkes
            E-Mail: amatbrewer@...
            Age: 46
            Location: Yakima Washington USA
            Gender: M
            Height: 5'11" (1.80 m)
            Weight: 175 lb (79 kg)

            Biography:
            I started backpacking in 1995 when I moved to Washington State. Since then, I have backpacked in all seasons and conditions. I prefer trips on rugged trails with plenty of elevation gain. While I continuously strive to lighten my load, comfort and safety are most important to me. I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not including consumables, to under 30lbs (14 kg).

            Product Information

            Manufacturer: Black Dimond

            Year of Manufacture: 2007

            Manufacturer's Website:

            http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com

            MSRP: US$ 79.95
            Advertised Weight: 362 g, 13 oz (50 cm)
            Measured Weight: 425 g, 15 oz (Note: I have the 70cm version)

            Product Description:
            This is a basic mountaineering ice axe for alpine climbing on low to moderate angle terrain (vs. a technical tool for climbing steep/vertical ice) with a CEN-B rating (vs. a CEN-T for technical tools). It consists of a lightweight aluminum shaft with a stainless steel spike on one end and a "investment-cast" one piece stainless steel head on the other. The axe has a straight shaft that is light gray with the Black Diamond name and logo. The spike has a cutout in the center to save weight and creates an attachment point. The adze side of the head also contains a cutout, diamond shaped, partly for decoration and partly to save weight. The head has a second cutout just above where the head connects to the shaft; this is the primary connection point, for anchoring and/or a leash.

            In reviewing the current version of this axe the only change in the design I can see is that it looks like they have added another cut out in the head just above the leash cutout.

            The pick has an aggressive sawtooth cut in to its underside and a very sharp edge to the point. The adze also has a very sharp edge (not quite knife sharp, more like a hatchet but ground only on one side, the bottom).
            I purchased the 70 cm size (28 in). Note: Ice axes are normally listed in metric units as a nod to their European origin.

            Owner Review

            Use
            * 1 climb of Mt Shasta (Northern California) 14,179 feet (4,322 m)
            * 6-7 climbs of Mt Adams (Washington Cascades) 12,281 ft (3,743 m) 
            * 2 climbs of Mt St Helens Washington Cascades) 8,365 ft (2,550 m)


            Review
            The Black Diamond Raven Pro was my first ice axe, I purchased it in preparation for climbing Mt Shasta (Northern California), and prior to this I had no experience with using an ice axe. Along with the axe I purchased a leash, but since this is an accessory I will not go into detail about that other than to say it is a good match for the ice axe and installs easily and securely.
            Aside for one trip this summer this has been my one and only axe for my alpine trips. On this last trip I loaned my Raven to a first time climber (it made sense to give her the lighter and shorter axe) and in its place used a very old axe I picked up because it was so cheap (longer and weighs more than twice as much). I only mention this as it is my main reference for comparing the comfort, weight, and length of the Raven.

            One of the things I like best about the Raven is how comfortable it is in my hand. Since I don't do technical climbing, the majority of the time I am using the axe as an aid in walking with the axe head in my hand. The head and neck (where the head attaches to the shaft) are narrow enough to comfortably fit in my hand and all of the edges are rounded and smooth making it comfortable even when wearing only thin liner gloves. Note: I don't think I have ever used this without wearing at least a pair of thin liner gloves. My other axe has a much wider head/neck and does not have the rounded edges and I found it could get uncomfortable when using/carrying it for extended periods even with gloves.

            I have used the axe as a belay anchor when stopping on steep terrain by plunging the shaft into the snow, along with the leash, it has worked quite well for this being easy to insert and remove. On one trip up Mt Adams the conditions were rather poor with high winds and the surface was mostly hard ice. On this trip I was unable to plunge the shaft into the snow/ice to create an anchor so used the pick. The pick penetrated the ice quite well and held firmly. On a few occasions I have used the adz head to carve seats and/or platforms into steep slopes to provide a stable spot for myself and others to rest. The small adz head is not very efficient for moving snow/ice but it very effective at carving and/or chipping away the ice. In camp I have also used the adz head to chop out chunks of ice for melting and it worked very well.

            Aside from use as walking aid, the second most use I have gotten out of this axe is for glissading where I use it with the spike of the handle in the snow for braking, and when necessary for self-arrest. In addition to practice and teaching others, I have had to use the axe for self-arrest a few times when getting out of control during a glissade and/or when other sliders have unexpectedly stopped in the way. These have occurred in various conditions from soft snow to crusted snow to hard ice and in every case the axe has performed flawlessly (if it had not I might not be here to write this). I should note that the axe can get a real workout when I am glissading. I have been known to get a bit wild and have even managed to melt the pocket of my pack during one high-speed glissade in icy conditions.

            One additional use I have gotten out of the tool is as an improvised hatchet. I have used the adze to chop off small (pencil to finger thick) branches for use as kindling.

            My only regret about this axe is its length. Since getting some experience I believe a longer shaft would have been a better choice for me. As I mentioned, this was my first axe and while I had done some research into what I thought I needed, I could find no good consensus on the proper length, so I went with the majority opinion by getting one that when held by the head in my hand extends to about my ankle. I figured I would simply replace it with what I really needed after I broke or wore out this one. Unfortunately, so far from what I can tell I doubt I will "need" to replace this axe in the foreseeable future. Aside for a few nicks and scratches on the shaft (cosmetic only) the axe is showing virtually no signs of wear and no indications as to any part that might fail. So it is looking like if I ever hope to replace this axe, I will need to sell, give away, or lose this one.

            Summary
            What can I say about a tool like this? It does exactly what it is intended for, with no extras and no problems. As far as I can tell it is an ideal balance of strength/durability and weight. Made of only 3 parts (head, shaft, and spike) all securely attached with no signs of loosening or wear, all indications are that this could last a lifetime (of course I try not to think about it failing and my life ending could just happen to coincide┬ů). Aside for not getting the longer version I have had no regret in my purchase of this product.

            Likes:

            * Lightweight
            * Simple, with few extras
            * Durable

            Dislikes:

            * None
          • Ray
            Hi David, Much better. Still a couple things to hit, including something I just noticed in your bio. Once you correct them you can upload it to: Reviews Snow
            Message 5 of 6 , Oct 27, 2011
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              Hi David,

              Much better. Still a couple things to hit, including something I just noticed in your bio. Once you correct them you can upload it to:

              Reviews > Snow Gear > Axes and Shovels > Black Diamond Raven Pro Ice Axe

              Please delete your test version while you are there.

              Ray



              ***I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not including consumables, to under 30lbs (14 kg).

              EDIT: need a space at 30 lb



              ***MSRP: US$ 79.95

              EDIT: this is for the Raven, not the Pro



              ***362 g, 13 oz (50 cm)
              ***425 g, 15 oz (Note: I have the 70cm version)

              EDIT: need the Imperial conversion for the lengths
            • amatbrewer
              Edits made, original deleted, new file uploaded to the the Blackdiamond Raven Pro page. Thanks for the edits! Dave
              Message 6 of 6 , Oct 31, 2011
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                Edits made, original deleted, new file uploaded to the the Blackdiamond Raven Pro page.

                Thanks for the edits!

                Dave

                --- In BackpackGearTest@yahoogroups.com, "Ray" <rayestrella@...> wrote:
                >
                > Hi David,
                >
                > Much better. Still a couple things to hit, including something I just noticed in your bio. Once you correct them you can upload it to:
                >
                > Reviews > Snow Gear > Axes and Shovels > Black Diamond Raven Pro Ice Axe
                >
                > Please delete your test version while you are there.
                >
                > Ray
                >
                >
                >
                > ***I have finally managed to get my basic cold weather pack weight, not including consumables, to under 30lbs (14 kg).
                >
                > EDIT: need a space at 30 lb
                >
                >
                >
                > ***MSRP: US$ 79.95
                >
                > EDIT: this is for the Raven, not the Pro
                >
                >
                >
                > ***362 g, 13 oz (50 cm)
                > ***425 g, 15 oz (Note: I have the 70cm version)
                >
                > EDIT: need the Imperial conversion for the lengths
                >
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