The Black Diamond Raven Pro is a stunning ice axe and has been a favourite with Trail. The pro version comes with a recessed rubber grip and a slide-adjusted leash. The balance is excellent, which makes chopping steps and front pointing a delight. The head is well-contoured for the hand and carries well when used for walking. You get a straight shaft and a gently curved head. The adze and pick are perfectly shaped, and the attention to detail such as the bevelled pick and well-placed teeth are bang on. The only issue we have with this axe (and it’s a minor one) is the thin profile of the shaft. It does make plunging it into snow a tad easier but compromises the grip, particularly if you have big hands. The 540g weight (with leash) is very good, and ideal for the typical mixed conditions of UK winters. But the Black Diamond Raven Pro is only rated as basic, so it is not for use as a rope belay. Some axes are lighter too and others have a precurved shaft for easier placement in snow slopes. You do not get a spike protector either.
Materials 7075-T6 alloy shaft; cast stainless steel pick and spike
Sizes 55, 60, 65, 70, 75cm
Weight 540g (size 60cm with leash)
Made in China
Stores in the UK 200
Stockist details tel. (01629) 580484, www.blackdiamondequipment.comVerdict
The Black Diamond Raven Pro is a beautifully made all-round basic axe ideal for walkers who regularly head out into British hills in winter and make the occasional Alpine foray.
Review by Jeremy Ashcroft
First published in Trail magazine January 2009