The model tested is the hammer version with a 50cm shaft. It’s beautifully designed, with a great feel to it when held in the hand and like most Black Diamond Ice axes, it feels perfectly weighted.
Holding the venom, you instantly feel it’s light weight (520g), this is certainly not an axe that will weigh down your pack. Coming with a Black Diamond Lockdown leash, the Venom offers great versatility across a wide range of mountain activities.
The slight bend at the top of the axe gives the venom a greater ability to be used in vertical ice without sacrificing its main job of being plunged into snow. The shaft plunges easily and with the aggressive pick provides piece of mind if needed to self-arrest.
The pick is interchangeable with the hammer coming with the ‘tech pick’, providing solid placements in hard ice. If wished, the pick can be changed to the ‘classic pick’, which has a less aggressive curve. Both picks are very durable and will last a lot of punishment. A rubber hand grip on the lower shaft allows the axe to be held comfortable, making the axe a dream to swing and use.
Overall the Venom is a very versatile axe (at a very good price) that is perfect for a mix of mountaineering objectives. Whether you’re a walker heading into the bigger mountains for the first time or a seasoned pro looking for an all-round tool for steeper alpine routes - this is a superb tool.
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