Overall: With an impressively effective pick and spike for an otherwise all-aluminum ultralight ice axe, the CAMP Corsa Nanotech ice axe definitely rates Five Stars, despite a couple unimportant oddities.
Background on product familiarity: I have been using the 60cm length since 2008. I am not an ice climber or technical “alpinist” by any means, but I have used this piolet on very firm snow up to just over 50 degrees.
First, the first impressions out of the box: The weight penalty relative to CAMP’s lightest Corsa ice axe is trivial, yet the pick and spike (which is nicely plugged) have sharp metal inserts. Maybe even too sharp – if you usually carry your unprotected spike protruding from the top of your pack perilously close to your head, then you might want to reconsider that arrangement!
The first oddity is the sandpaper grip on the base of the ice. Sure, that would be a big advantage for swinging this like a technical ice tool, but the only time you might be doing that with this piolet is for chopping out a platform, and its relatively dull all-alu adze isn’t the best choice for that anyway. The big disadvantage of the sandpaper is that you could not use the axe to pad the lip of a crevasse for the rescue rope without risking sheath abrasion damage. Fortunately, the sandpaper is not sprayed on but instead is essentially a piece of tape that I easily removed.
The second oddity is the curved shaft. The curvature is very modest compared to a technical ice tool, but it still sure isn’t straight. (Why?)
Second impressions, in use: I haven’t noticed the curvature of the shaft, whether for better or worse, even when swapping back and forth between the Corsa Nanotech and a predecessor (XLA 210) of the Corsa. What I have noticed is the effectiveness of the spike, especially when partially plunging the axe into very firm snow for a two-handed self-belay during some nervous moments. I have not had a chance (fortunately!) to test the effectiveness of the pick in any real self-arrest, but its enhanced penetration compared to an all-aluminum head is very obvious.
Third impressions, for long-term durability: An ice axe should of course not be subject to typical durability concerns, but still, after lots of use, just a few superficial scratches on the shaft are the only signs of wear.
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