Black Diamond Raven Pro 2011

The Black Diamond Raven Pro is a stripped-down version of the Raven, BD’s basic mountaineering range of ice axes. It is a stunning tool. The Pro version comes with a sleek, gripless shaft and a trimmed-down pick and adze. The balance is very much that of a walking axe and all though it will happily chop steps and swing into névé (compacted snow) it is not as good as its heavier-headed brothers. 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 spot on. The only (minor) issue we have with this axe 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 424g weight is excellent.  But the Black Diamond Raven Pro is only rated in the basic (B) category, so it is not for use as a rope belay. Some axes have a pre-curved shaft for easier placement in snow slopes. You do not get a spike protector.

Classification basic
Materials 7075-T6 alloy shaft; cast stainless steel pick and spike
Sizes 55, 60, 65, 70, 75cm
Weight 424g (size 65cm)
Made in China
Stores in the UK 250

The Black Diamond Raven Pro is a beautifully made all-round basic axe that’s ideal for walkers who regularly head out into British hills in winter and also make the occasional Alpine foray. It won ‘Best in Test’ for walking axes.

Review by Jeremy Ashcroft
First published in Trail magazine January 2011