Black Diamond Raven Pro ice axe

GearFlogger reviews the Black Diamond Raven Pro ice axe Black Diamond knows axes, and they know not to mess with what works. The Raven lineup has expanded to four: the Raven, Raven Pro (lighter), Raven Ultra (lightest) and Raven with grip. The updated Raven Pro gets a little work done to improve an already stellar design, but don't worry, they haven't ruined a classic like Pamela Anderson did with all her "updates."

The 7075-T6 aluminum shaft appears to be unchanged, although the finish looks little different from my older model with a less glossy feel. The most noticable difference in the Pro is another hole in the head where it meets the shaft. You can now tie a leash in to the upper hole and still leave a hole free for a carabiner should you need a little anchor action. A minor design change, but it just works better. The carabiner hole (the hole closest to the shaft) is just a smidge bigger for easier clipping.

The investment-cast stainless steel head also has just a bit more width to it across the top where you rest your palm, and the belly where you wrap your fingers is a tad less thick and wide. The blood gutter is smooth edged instead of straight cut, so it should insert and extract into snow and ice easier. The pick is the tinest bit more aggressive, and the adze has a larger cutout and slightly more aggressive edge. Overall weight remains almost identical at 16oz for the long john 75cm model. The Raven Pro still sets the standard for the classic mountaineering axe, and it's now just a notch higher.

$99.95 at REI


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