When mountaineering, the type of equipment that you bring all depends on the conditions that you are expecting on your climb. When descending and ascending a mountain you want to be readily prepared with the gear that gives you the very best possibility of success, while still remaining easy to use and carry around.

If you are going on a trip where you do not think you will be using your ice axe and other tools as much, then you may want to go for some lighter weight tools as they will most likely be sitting in your pack.

But when tackling tougher climbs and steeper peaks you will most likely opt for a bit of a sturdier, heavier ice axe that can handle harsher conditions. A tool that can easily chop right through thick alpine ice and deep bergschrunds while being able to scratch into the rock of the mountain itself is very desirable for more technical climbs.

Using an axe like the Petzl Sum’Tec in conditions such as these will make the trip a breeze. A durable and very capable axe such as the Sum’Tec is one that you will want to bring on these tougher climbs over a lightweight option.

For anyone who is looking for a hybrid type of tool between a more traditional ice axe mixed with more modern ice tools, the Sum’Tec will most likely meet and possibly even surpass your expectations.

Take a read and see what makes the Petzl Sum’Tec such a magnificent tool for both getting technical jobs done like an ice tool and offering that high level of performance, while retaining some being able to perform the job of a lightweight ice axe. 

Petzl Sum’Tec Mountaineering Ice Axe Product Review

Petzl Sum'Tec Mountaineering Axe Review

Product Name: Petzl Sum'Tec

Product Description: The Petzl Sum'Tec Mountaineering Ice Axe has a modular ice axe, a tapered ice pick, a curved shaft with adjustable TrigRest handrest, and an interchangeable head that can be turned into an adze, a hammer, or multiple types of ice picks.

Offer price: 199

Summary

This product has the best of both worlds (i.e., function and performance) because it integrated both quantity and quality into a simplistic ice axe. Hence, it will not disappoint you whenever you use it in any and all mountaineering circumstances.

  • Durability
  • Value
  • Features
  • Comfort
  • Weight
Overall
4.4

Pros

  • Under a pound in weight.
  • Multifunctional
  • Customizable and good grip.
  • Customizable head for different uses.
  • All-in-1 ice axe for all-around use

Cons

  • A bit pricey.

Design

When taking a first look at the Petzl Sum’Tec, you may be taken aback with how attractive this particular tool is. In an industry where the looks of a tool tend to fall behind how it performs, it is quite nice seeing a good-looking ice axe make its way into the mix.

But of course, it is not just pleasing to the eyes. The design of the Petzl Sum’Tec perfectly blends the older, more traditional looks of glacier axes while mixing it up with some aspects of more modern tools, and bringing both of those together to create a very competent tool that gets a variety of jobs done.

The shaft of the Sum’Tec is bent ever so slightly. This gives it the dual purpose of protecting the hand of the user while swinging or utilizing the tool in various positions, such as the high-dagger, while also making the axe a very good tool for self-arresting.

Petzl has also been making strides to modernize their tools, and one such effort comes in the form of the heads of each of their axes being interchangeable with one another. The Sum’Tec head can be swapped out with any of the other modern three offerings from Petzl.

That means that you can swap out the head and get some head attachments to work on this pick without needing to purchase an entirely different axe. The interchangeability that Petzl offers is bar none, and the fact that you can use older picks on the Sum’Tec opens up new doors and builds loyalty to the brand.

Aside from the pick of the Sum’Tec being very modular and interchangeable, the hand rest of the tool has its very own part known as the TrigRest. This trademarked piece has been newly upgraded by Petzl with this offering of the Sum’Tec.

The TrigRest allows the user to get a very secure grip on the tool while they are climbing in steep ice or snow, yet remains quite simple to move when needing to drive the shaft into snow or ice.

Finally, the head of the Sum’Tec is great as it is well made and very aggressive. This means that you won’t have any hassle when using this tool for climbing, as it will bite right into the ice and snow.

Build Quality

The Petzl Sum’Tec is very well built, as you would expect out of a Petzl product. It’s hot-forged pick ensures that you will get maximum use out of the tool before it even begins to show signs of growing worn or battered.

The well-built shaft is also a plus, and the TrigRest pieces bring forth even more grip for the user when climbing and performing other activities. The way that it maintains such a light weight when compared with traditional ice axes is the fact that the shaft is made out of lightweight aluminum.

Perhaps the best part about the build of the Sum’Tec is the previously mentioned ability to fit other Petzl head pieces onto its adze and pick. The modularity of this tool is incomparable with other tools in its class, and offers a very unique plus to Petzl’s product.

The pick itself is T-rated, and is thin enough to jam itself right into ice while retaining a thickness that ensures you can abuse this tool and keep on trucking without worry of breakage or wear. And of course, if you do not find the pick to your style you can always swap it out with other offerings from Petzl due to the modularity.

Performance

When taking the Petzl Sum’Tec out on excursions you will find that the placement of the hand rest makes for a very comfortable and easy to carry tool, while remaining available and ready to use at a moment’s notice.

The location of the hand rest changes the way that you will be able to use and hold this tool, and offers quite a bit of versatility and variety to suit any given situation.

Should you choose to place the hand rest near the head of the axe for when you need to plunge the axe into the snow or ice of the slope you are on, you can do so smoothly with relatively little effort.

You may also decide to have the hand rest sit at the curve of the ice axe. This position will allow you to protect your hand while offering you a nice, secure and sturdy grip for the high-dagger position.

And if that does not suit you, then you are even able to slide the hand rest all the way to the end of the shaft if you are aiming to make the Sum’Tec feel and perform much like a technical ice tool.

As previously mentioned, the pick of the Sum’Tec is a versatile and effective part of the tool which can get you through moderate conditions with ease. Thin enough to remain quite light while thick enough to offer durability and great performance are highlights of the Sum’Tec’s pick.

The balance point of the Petzl Sum’Tec can be found quite near to the head of the tool. That is a plus, as the ice axe will feel perfectly natural when swinging and plunging it into the slope, while also working with the user in order to make the swing as easy as possible.

You can easily pair the Sum’Tec with a dedicated ice climbing pick and turn the Sum’Tec into a very capable technical ice tool that will be able to handle a variety of different conditions and tackle technical ice without a hitch.

The angle of the adze provides the user with a very effective tool for chopping ice and snow and for clearing out areas for your tent or other items, making t-slots, and general digging in the snow.

Benefits

Durable

The high quality, hot-forged steel head of the Sum’Tec is brilliantly designed to offer the user with a durable tool that can dig into the snow and ice and last for many excursions to come without breakage or wear. The shaft of the Sum’Tec is made with the same high standard build quality as the head, and the lightweight aluminum is no slouch when it comes to durability. 

For such a modular tool which sits in a sort of middle ground between lightweight ice axes and technical ice tools, the Petzl Sum’Tec remains durable when performing both of these tasks, and will serve the user quite well for a long time after purchase.

Comfortable 

The adjustable hand rest that is offered by the Petzl Sum’Tec is great as it leaves the user with a variety of different options for how they want to grip and use the tool. Three different hand rest positions are available to choose from, and each is suitable for use depending on what you are looking to get out of it.

With an ergonomic shaft and Petzl’s TrigRests, you will find that wielding this tool throughout your climbs and explorations will be quite comfortable and not bring any sort of stress to you throughout the trip. A great fit to your hand makes this a perfect tool for longer climbs.

Efficient

As stated earlier, the point of balance of the Sum’Tec is located close to the head of the tool. The Sum’Tec will actively work with your swing in order to lodge itself into the snow and ice, using the momentum and weight of the tool to drive itself in deep without requiring extra exertion by the user.

Manageable

Finally, you will find that the Sum’Tec is quite a manageable tool. It performs a variety of different tasks as it sits between a technical ice tool and more of a traditional ice axe, while remaining easy to manage. Whether it is sitting on your pack stowed away, or resting in your hand, the Sum’Tec will prove easy to manage and handle wherever it is being used.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Type of Axe Should I Choose?

There are a variety of different ice axes and each serves a different purpose and use when climbing. For travelling on glaciers, you will want to pick an ice ask that is lightweight and provides a grip that is comfortable to the user, while offering anchoring qualities that are good.

For classic mountaineering on varied terrain, you will want to go for an ice axe that has a forged head and provides very good anchoring aspects. This is because you will most likely be dealing with very steep slopes and anchoring yourself is of utmost importance.

Technical ice axes are suited for snow and ice climbs that will prove to be quite difficult. Try to find an axe that is ergonomic, fits to your hand and is easy to use, allows you to use a myriad of different grips, and offers you excellent anchoring.

For climbing exclusively on ice, you will want to find an axe that is very technical and offers high performance.

The Petzl Sum’Tec fits into the category of classic and technical mountaineering very well, so consider this when looking at ice axes and which one is best suited for you and your purposes.

What Grip Should I be Using?

The type of grip that you will want to use depends wholly on what activity you are currently performing during your climb. While the high-dagger grip may serve you well in some cases, it may not be the best choice at all times.

One grip that is very important is the self-arrest grip, which we will quickly go over now.

What is the Self-Arrest Grip and How do I Perform it?

The self-arrest grip is a grip is a type of grip that is utilized when a climber is unable to self-belay and finds themselves sliding down a slope of snow. This type of grip is to be utilized in conditions where the snow of the slope is quite hard and a self-belay will not be possible.

To perform the self-arrest grip, start by placing the thumb of your uphill hand beneath the adze, and keeping your fingers and palm around the pick itself. Keep the pick pointed behind yourself, and the adze facing to your front.

When in a scenario where self-arresting becomes necessary, all a climber needs to do is place the axe centered on their chest and grip the shaft with their free hand, then roll themselves over, digging their feet into the snow and pressing down on the pick to drive it into the snow.

This is not the most comfortable grip, but it is very important should you ever find yourself slipping down a snowy slope.

Petzl Sum'Tec Mountaineering Axe Review

Product Name: Petzl Sum'Tec

Product Description: The Petzl Sum'Tec Mountaineering Ice Axe has a modular ice axe, a tapered ice pick, a curved shaft with adjustable TrigRest handrest, and an interchangeable head that can be turned into an adze, a hammer, or multiple types of ice picks.

Offer price: 199

Summary

This product has the best of both worlds (i.e., function and performance) because it integrated both quantity and quality into a simplistic ice axe. Hence, it will not disappoint you whenever you use it in any and all mountaineering circumstances.

  • Durability
  • Value
  • Features
  • Comfort
  • Weight
Overall
4.4

Pros

  • Under a pound in weight.
  • Multifunctional
  • Customizable and good grip.
  • Customizable head for different uses.
  • All-in-1 ice axe for all-around use

Cons

  • A bit pricey.

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