Every new winter season, I try to upgrade some of my old mountaineering gear and change my old gear to new models. Mountaineering gear can be rather expensive and therefore I do such upgrades gradually. Recently, I have updated my helmet and I got the new Mammut Wall Rider helmet, but I have also got a new ice axe, the new Petzl Quark.
Like always, prior of purchasing a new item, I do an extensive market research. For the new ice axe, I had specific needs and wishes. I wanted the new ice axe to be a multipurpose ice axe that I could use it for general mountaineering, but also on more technical terrains, such as on couloirs and more mix climbing activities.
The ice axes I was looking for where the following ones:
- Petzl Quark
- Petzl Gully
- Petzl Sum’Tec
- Cassin X-Light
- Black Diamond Viper
The Petzl QUARK is a versatile ice axe designed for technical mountaineering and for ice climbing. Its balance and its ICE pick allow solid placements on any type of ice. The TRIGREST and GRIPREST handrests make it easy to handle and comfortable in any situation. They provide more efficient handle grip for difficult sections. Entirely modular, the QUARK ice axe adapts easily to technical, varied terrain: snow couloirs, gullies, north faces, icefalls.
Starting at the bottom of the tool, the new Quark has a collapsible finger rest that locks in either an open or closed position. In the open position, the finger rest is business as usual, but a small spring-loaded pin allows it to fold up and in line with the tool’s shaft to create a lower profile. This might seem like small beans, but when plunging the tool for thousands of feet up moderate snow slopes, it will make a serious improvement in efficiency.
The locking pin to toggle the finger rest back and forth is fairly easy to press, even with gloves on, although it remains to be seen if it could possibly ice up. Because of the moving parts, the finger rest has 0.2 mm of play in either locked position. The wiggle is almost unnoticeable, but if it bothers you, Petzl built in an option to lock the finger rest in the open position with a screw and nut. With the update to the finger rest, Petzl also redesigned the shape of the stainless-steel spike at the bottom of the tool.
The 2018 Quark has an updated handle with improved ergonomics. According to Monsieur Plaze, he and the R&D team at Petzl played with different handle shapes and sizes, and found that a rectangular shape, as opposed to oval-shaped or round, was the most efficient grip. So on the new Quark, both the front and sides of the handle are flatter than the previous generation. The change of shape improves indexing (reducing side-to-side tool movement), and the handle is also slightly larger in volume to keep the hand in a more open and relaxed position with the idea of building less pump.
I have used the new Petzl Quark (2018) on a couple of climbs and so far I have been very satisfied. I particularly like the way it feels when I hold it but also the way it swings into the ice.
The new Trigrest and Griprest are my favourite features of the new Petzl Quark because it is very easy to use them while you are climbing. In fact on my latest climb, I have used the Griprest option several times so I could be planting the ice axe into the snow.
The 2018 Petzl Quark has an updated handle with improved ergonomics. According to Monsieur Plaze, he and the R&D team at Petzl played with different handle shapes and sizes, and found that a rectangular shape, as opposed to oval-shaped or round, was the most efficient grip. So on the new Quark, both the front and sides of the handle are flatter than the previous generation. The change of shape improves indexing (reducing side-to-side tool movement), and the handle is also slightly larger in volume to keep the hand in a more open and relaxed position with the idea of building less pump.
Also, I really like the entirely modular head that allows me to adjust the ice axe based on the needs of my next climb. The ice peak, is very aggressive and rather versatile across all terrain and I have tested it in snow, ice and in mixed climbs with big success.
Griprest &Trigrest Quark in detail
The TRIGREST and GRIPREST handrests make it easy to handle and comfortable in any situation. They provide more efficient handle grip for difficult sections.
- Versatile ice axe:
– shaft curved below the head and GRIPREST QUARK handrest at the bottom of the shaft to protect the hands on ice climbs
– shaft has a steel spike and is straight enough for use in piolet-canne mode
– shaft is hydroformed for optimal grip in the middle of the shaft, for snow couloirs
– over-molded, bi-material handle provides good grip while insulating from the cold
– TRIGREST QUARK and GRIPREST QUARK handrests strengthen the grip on difficult sections
– 550 g with PANNE or MARTEAU
- Efficient placement on any type of ice
– ICE pick is tapered at the tip (3.3 mm) and versatile across all terrain: snow, ice and mixed
– compatible with MASSELOTTE weights to modify the balance and improve the inertia of the ice axe
- Modular construction:
– entirely modular head allows the technical aspects of the ice axe to be adjusted
– compatible with Petzl accessories: PUR’ICE, MINI MARTEAU, MASSELOTTES…
– TRIGREST QUARK handrest is height adjustable without tools
– GRIPREST QUARK handrest folds in easily for planting the ice axe in snow
– connection hole is compatible with V-LINK elasticated loss-prevention webbing
– only 465 g, not including accessories
- Pick type: 2
- Shaft type: 2
- Material(s): aluminum, steel, glass fiber reinforced plastic
- Certification(s): CE, UIAA
- Sold with ICE pick, MARTEAU or PANNE, TRIGREST QUARK and GRIPREST QUARK handrests
Although I have never used a previous Petzl Quark model, I particularly enjoy this model. I find it very comfortable to use and in terms of performance is great. I also like a lot the industrial design and most of all the Griprest and Trigrest options. Actually, the TRIGREST QUARK and GRIPREST QUARK are the main reasons why I chose this ice axe instead of another one.