Black Diamond Venom hammer/adze

This is a low-weight ice axe that can be used as a pair with a hammer or adze head for steeper snow and ice-climbing. You get an interchangeable pick as well as an ergonomic head grip. The shaft is rubberised towards the spike for a better grip. There is a leash provided too with padded wrist loop and easy adjustment. The precurved shaft is ideal for easier placement in snow slopes while being ideal for steeper climbing moves. The whole axe is beautifully finished and well-balanced, and generally feels ideal in the hand. Use this for all-round mountaineering and it should be ideal. But surprisingly the pick is only given a B rating rather than a T rating, so it is not the strongest option. This is also a dedicated climbing axe, so it’s not so good if you just want a walker’s axe for Munro-bagging in winter. The high price tag is due to the replaceable head design, so you need to make sure you need it for the extra cash you have to pay.

Vital stats

Classification basic

Materials 7075-T6 alloy shaft; cast stainless steel pick and spike

Sizes 50, 57, 64cm

Weight 566g (size 57cm with leash)

Made in China


Verdict Ideal if you want a more swingable axe with interchangeable picks for mountaineering and walking rather than a lower-priced general axe.